Teaching kindergarten was not the obvious career for Andrew Ross, at least not initially.
His highly analytical mind and a natural aptitude for computers put him on a very different professional path.
'I studied computer science and worked in IT for far too long,' Andrew said.
When he voiced his career frustrations with a friend, they suggested that he look at teaching because of his ability to explain technical things to other people.
Andrew started investigating and decided early childhood teaching was where his passion lay.
'Not only is learning in a kindergarten guided by a child's own interests and curiosity, I quickly discovered that this was where I could have the greatest impact,' Andrew said.
Back to school
Andrew was eager to expand his teaching knowledge and skillset.
Having earned a Bachelor of Computer Science, Andrew was eligible to undertake the Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood) at RMIT University.
After graduating, Andrew landed a job at Leongatha Children's Centre, where he'd completed one of his placements.
Mentors and mentees
After working at Leongatha for several years in various capacities, the position of three-year-old teacher came up and Andrew leapt at the opportunity.
'I've been very lucky, because I'm actually teaching with someone who has taught three-year-old kinder for 10 years,' Andrew said.
'So instead of going into it cold, I've got this immense experience and skills that I can draw on.'
Teaching three-year-old children
For Andrew, there is something particularly special about teaching three-year-old children.
'From the start of kindergarten to the end is one of the biggest observable periods of development, especially in language,' Andrew said.
'You've got this language explosion. But that only happens if you are exposing them to books and imaginative play, and these everyday conversations.'
The children's development is also evident in their social and emotional growth.
'Friendships and problem-solving skills are developing,' Andrew said.
'At the start of the year, we needed to listen and intervene early, but now we can step back and give them more time to solve a problem themselves.'
The perfect job
Andrew identifies the variability of each day as the most enjoyable element of teaching three-year-old children.
'Every day is different. The young children are developing all the time and their interests are changing,' Andrew said.
'Even if you have the same program with the same set of children, what they find in the yard or the thoughts they have completely changes the possibilities for teaching them.'
Advice to prospective teachers
In Andrew's opinion, the first step towards a career as a kindergarten teacher is volunteering.
'No matter how much you read online or hear in information sessions, until you are there with the children you won't know if it's for you or not,' Andrew said.
Andrew strongly encourages people to consider teaching kindergarten.
'It can be hard, but to know that you are making a difference to individual children, families and eventually to society is very satisfying,' he said.
Andrew views the under-representation of men in the early childhood sector as being 'on a journey'.
'Young boys need to see that men can be in nurturing positions,' Andrew said.
'Every child deserves to see that that a teaching role is a perfectly valid career choice for all people, regardless of gender.'
Find out more
The Victorian Government's Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reform will create 6000 new teaching jobs.
For information about scholarships and incentives to become a kindergarten teacher, visit Early childhood teaching: make a difference.