March 13, 2023

What Early Childhood Education Looks Like: Normalizing Men in Childcare, Part II

At Early Learning Academies, we’ve had a lot of conversations about how to push back against harmful stereotypes in our industry and spread awareness of how things have changed for the better.

In our “What ECE Looks Like” series, we will celebrate rich, diverse stories and show how educators and leaders in the industry have worked to change things.

Many years ago, seeing a man working in childcare might have been considered unusual. These days, it’s widely acknowledged that children need different experiences and interactions with people of all genders and backgrounds to build a healthy foundation for educational, social, and emotional success.

We spoke with three male early childhood educators to learn about their path into childcare. Our second interview is with Anthony Graves, Center Director for Kid’s Country in Bonney Lake, Washington. Enjoy learning about his journey!

Anthony Graves

Center Director, Kid’s Country Learning Centers

Bonney Lake, WA

How did your career path into early childhood education begin?

I began my path in childcare back in 1992. I would drop my son off at his childcare center, and while I was waiting an hour for my bus to come, I would hang around and play with the children from my son’s classroom. One day the Center Director said, “You work well with children, would you like to work here?” and I said yes. That started this journey that I now call my career.

What’s your favorite part about working in childcare?

My favorite would be how honest and pure children are. Remembering how important the brain matters, and how impactful we are while these kiddos are in our care.

How do people respond when you tell them about your line of work?

I’m an African American male in childcare, so I have encountered a few shockers. Overall, though, people are encouraging and appreciative that I’ve chosen a career in ECE. 

What advice would you give to men thinking about getting into the childcare field?

If you have a passion for teaching, learning, and children, follow your heart.

Normalizing men in childcare is important to evolving this industry. Check out Part I of this series. Looking for more resources on this topic? Here are a few good places to start:

Male Early Childcare Professionals Matter

Men in ECE

What It’s Like Being a Male ECE Professional