The preschool where I work is run as a co-op. As such, parents are expected to stay in the classroom and help the two paid teachers each day. There is a schedule printed far in advance and just one parent stays each day. As you might imagine, some days having the extra adult in the room is a real boon; other days, not so much. It depends on two things: the skill of the parent in working with three year-olds (other than their own child), and the ability of the child to share her/his parent with the other kids. There are several parents who, when I see their names on the schedule for the day, I get excited because I know they will really bring some skills and excitement to the room and be a true help. Others, …
Ithaca, where my preschool is located, is a very progressive town. Yet the diversity of the place is not very evident in my classroom. I have a total of 15 children and none have anything other than a mom and a dad as their parents. This is not a complaint. I am not saying, “Shit, why don’t I have any same-sex couples in my class?” I only bring it up because it is relevant to my point.
So far this school year there have been approximately 120 days when a parent has stayed to help in my classroom. Of those 120 days, a father has been the one to stay no more than 15 times. Rounding up, this means a father has been the one to stay just 13% of the time and a mother has been the one to stay 87% of the time. In the other classroom where a parent is expected to stay, the days when a father has stayed are even fewer and farther between. In general, the parents in my school are highly educated with some sort of advanced or professional degrees. I would certainly say they are modern, open-minded, and aware of gender stereotypes.
Yet, when the rubber hits the road, it is the moms who clear their morning schedules and come in. Not the dads. Why is this? It is 2013 and, as a society we have decided, in theory, that if a child has two parents, those parents should share the parenting duties equally. If one of the parents is a male and the other a female, there is no reason for the female parent to be the one who comes to the preschool to help with childcare all the time, is there?