© Kirk Starratt
Little Pumpkins Daycare early childhood educators Kevin Pitts, left, and Cody Robar, right, say gender stereotyping isn’t an issue for them or the children they care for.
By Kirk Starratt
It’s not a typical occupation for men, but Cody Robar and Kevin Pitts say seeing children develop – and knowing they had a role to play in it – is very rewarding.
Both graduates of the Early Childhood Education program at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus, Robar and Pitts say they couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a career. Both work at Little Pumpkins Daycare in Kentville.
Pitts said he hesitated over signing up for the program at first. It was his girlfriend Stephanie who convinced him to go for it.
“It’s not a high-paying job, it’s a rewarding job. It’s a passion,” Pitts said. “I don’t think I can see myself doing something else. I enjoy working with the kids. I enjoy seeing them developing and realizing I had a role in that.”
Pitts said his girlfriend’s sister had a baby boy named Liam. Pitts has been a consistent male figure in his life and they have a great rapport.
“I was in a job I really didn’t like,” Pitts said. “Stephanie suggested I try early childhood education.”
He said he used to volunteer at a boys’ and girls’ club and has always enjoyed being with kids and teaching them. Pitts did a “test drive” of the program at Kingstec and said it helped that Robar was there. He describes their relationship like a ‘brotherhood.’
“I don’t think I would have graduated without him,” Pitts said. “Now we’re working together.”
He encourages other men interested in early childhood education to get involved. Pitts said some people still seem to carry attitudes and stereotypes about men working in the field, but says you shouldn’t worry what other people think. It’s about your passion, he adds.
“I’m an educator and part of a team of educators. Gender is not an issue here,” he said.
Pitts said he feels great about his job at the end of the day and he always has a story to share about the children developing. He said there’s so much to teach kids, but they teach you, too. It’s great to see them grow and remember the lessons you taught them.
“I think this job enriches my quality of life,” Pitts said.
Robar said he thinks some men still worry about the pay scale involved, but he agrees the job is very rewarding.
“You do it as a passion, for the reward of seeing the children develop,” he said.
For Robar, becoming an early childhood educator was an evolution. He started as an educational assistant, but later decided to take the early childhood education program.
“I gave it a try and that’s how I discovered my passion,” Robar said.
Robar said he and Pitts have been lucky to find work in a daycare where they aren’t subjected to stereotyping.
“There’s always going to be a support group,” he added. “There are people in the community of early childhood educators willing to help you.”
No gender barriers at Kentville daycare
More men are coming into what has traditionally been a female-dominated role in the early childhood education sector.
Little Pumpkins Daycare owner Jenny Mitson said there aren’t the same gender stereotypes today that once existed and people are more able to follow their dreams and desires without being stereotyped.
“There are a lot of men out there who are good at caring roles,” Mitson said. “It’s accessible to them.”
Mitson said seeing the interaction among the men and women working at the centre might be the only example of this some children are exposed to.
“Seeing interaction between male and female workers is important for role modeling for children,” Mitson said.
She said the children don’t see it as unusual at all that Pitts and Robar work as early childhood educators at the centre. Mitson encourages more men to get involved in the field.
“They’re so great at getting in there and doing things,” Mitson said. “The kids idolize them. Children often idolize teachers, but it’s so obvious with these two. It’s not because they’re men, but because of the people they are.”
Director Pebbles Gaul said the early childhood education field is becoming more respected in general. She said it’s a nice balance having Pitts and Robar at the centre.
“It’s nice to have male role models,” she said.