Bryan G. Nelson -

I’m in New Zealand right now getting ready for a presentation to the 4th Annual Men in Early Childhood Summit. I’m spending time with one of the guys, Robin Christie and his wife and kids I met in Belfast, Ireland – the World Forum. I’ve been to New Zealand before and love the country.

Robin and his wife run several programs called Childspace.

Their philosophy and approach is based on play and using the natural environment to nurture and support that play. What great fun!

And what a great place for men to get involved. I was talking to two of the blokes (I’ve been here long enough to start talking that way) who build the equipment and materials that many centers and programs use. They were sharing how much they enjoy spending time with the children in the classroom. And the two guys talked about how they interact with the children talking about their work and what they are doing.

Part of the reason I mention these guys is because several men I know who work in the field have always used woodworking or carpentry in their programs.

Bruce Sheppard has done workshops for teachers about how to safely use tools with young children. It sometimes seems that our classroom have become a bit too sanitized or overly “safe” for young children where they don’t get to get messy or try things out. Now I’m not talking about the use of chainsaws or hammer drills. But let’s think about what activities and equipment we use with young children that reflects more the culture of men.