Mustached nanny: four interviews with unusual kindergarten teachers

October 2, 2019

They braid hair, learn poems together with children, read fairy tales, draw, sing and play outdoor games — a regular occupation of men teachers in pre-school classes in Moscow. Why have Igor Kultyshkin, Viktor Kornev, Alexander Kotov and Andrei Rybakov chosen this rare profession, not typical for men? Young teachers answered these and other questions on their professional holiday — the Day of Kindergarten Teachers and all preschool workers.

Igor Kultyshkin: I have a great time with children!

The morning of Igor Kultyshkin, a 'class daddy' (that is the real official name of his position in the pre-school group of the Vozdvizhensky educational facility of the School in Kapotnya educational institution), begins with outdoor games in the kindergarten's courtyard. Kids in bright jackets run one after another — 'hunters' catch  'geese' at the teacher's signal. 'Geese, geese!' 'Honk-honk-honk.' 'Do you want to eat?' 'Yes, yes, yes'.

'This is their favourite game', says Igor Kultyshkin. 'Our children love all the chasing games, where hunters or wolves catch small animals'.

Photo: Yuliya Ivanko

We have the most troublesome time of the day ahead, that is a lunch, so we need time to come back from a walk and change.

'Most children are about 4, so it is difficult for them to deal with their clothes, footwear and food on their own so far,' says Igor. 'And we can’t break out our daily routine, we have to keep up. But they successfully learn in the process, so, I believe that to the end of the year I will train them to dress on their own'.

Igor Kultyshkin has been working in the facility for two and a half years. And he surely has great time with children.

'We engage in drawing, reading, writing, make breaks for short exercises, do some funny sports,' the teacher tells. 'Since childhood, I get along with children very well. I taught my brother to ride a bike and play football. Therefore, without much deliberation, I entered a pedagogical university and graduated from it. However, I had assumed that I would work with older children, but instead I started working in a pre-school class, and I do not regret it at all. It is nice to communicate with kids, and we have all the required conditions for a proper work here: there are two gyms, and each classroom has multimedia equipment'.

Women teachers are very happy about their men colleagues.

'At first, many of us felt perplexed about the men teachers in the pre-school classes. Are they really going to wipe noses, braid girls' hair and make pigtails? Are they capable of doing these things at all?' laughs Maya Chulkova. 'But the guys have proved that it was not only braids they could do. Our little boy saw Igor opening the door for me and letting me go out first, and later he started opening the door for all the girls. Other boys saw that Igor helped me with my jacket before going out, and after that they started to help the girls to get dressed, too. And it is a usual thing now. So, children should see an example. Now we can't even imagine our work without men around!'

Viktor Kornev: It's my job, and I like it

In the neighbouring Arbatsky facility of the School in Kapotnya, spellbound children listen to the 'Sly Crow' fairy tale Viktor Kornev reads. When the tale ends, they exhale loudly and raise their hands to answer the teacher's questions. Then Viktor asks his colleague to take his place, puts on a white coat and a gauze cap and goes out to fetch heavy pots of soup for lunch.

Photo: Yuliya Ivanko

‘'Institute of Kindergarten Class Daddys' project was launched six years ago by Vladimir Streltsov, former Director of the Education Centre No. 1858. While compiling social passports of kindergarden classes, we found out that many children had single-parent families. And we decided to invite 'class daddies' to work, men kindergarten teachers to help women who, unlike them, would be able to engage in physical education of children,' Natalya Kostash, the senior teacher of the Arbatsky facility of the School in Kapotnya educational institution told us. 'At first, parents were perplexed, like, my son has a dad, why does he need another one in his kindergarten class?' But when they saw how much children loved them, how they crowded around them all the time and hung on every word they said, that warmed their hearts. Now parents of younger classes ask us: 'When will our class have its daddy?' As for physical training, now our kids aged 5 successfully pass the GTO (Ready for Labour and Defence) qualifying standards for children aged 6-8. It is Viktor's merit, thanks to him, last year, children received six gold and one silver GTO badges'.

Viktor Kornev studies at the State Social and Humanitarian University to get a degree in Physical Education Teacher. He has been working with children for three years, and after graduation he does not want to quit.

'Children have already learned a lot: they can dress on their own, and one boy already knows how to read,'  Viktor Kornev told us. 'Parents often thank me for everything I do, but this is my job, and I just like it.'

Alexander Kotov: The most difficult thing was to learn how to braid girls' hair

Pre-school class of secondary school No.1231, which employs the teacher Alexander Kotov, is located in one of the Arbat lanes.

The nap time has recently ended, but kids, still sleepy, gather in the play room, dress up, and girls come up in turn to the teacher to have their hairstyle done.

Photo: Yuliya Ivanko

‘The most difficult thing for me was to learn to braid hair,' admits Alexander Kotov.  'Girls come up to me after their nap time and in an authoritative voice order: 'I want my ponytail! I want a braid!' And if a cannot do it, they start crying. My braids turned out to be very loose, but my colleague Lyubov was always ready to help me out. I would be quite helpless without her! To date, I have perfected my skills.'

Children sit down at the tables one by one and have their midday meal, pancakes and tea, in solemn silence. There are occasional bursts of laughter or chatting at the tables, to make the teacher speak loudly and meaningfully: 'Ahem!' And conversations immediately subside.

'Children obey, they turn to man teacher', Lyubov Popova smiles. 'Boys imitate everything he does, for example, they have learned to stand up for girls.'

Alexander Kotov has been working in this kindergarden for eight years. First, he worked as a physical education teacher, but the last five years he has been a ‘class daddy’.

'There is a good reason I have chosen the Moscow City Teachers' Training University, Pre-school Pedagogy and Psychology Department’, says Alexander Kotov. 'My mom's a teacher, and I've always gotten along well with kids. Yet in my childhood, the neighbours noticed that me and my younger sister had always kids of different ages around us. I love my job, I am delighted to see the result of my efforts — how children learn age-appropriate skills. For a long time, a boy in my class did not know how to dress himself. He has a large family, with his relatives helping him about everything. And if his parents couldn’t help, the boy went to his uncle or aunt asking to dress him. Me, Lyubov and Alevtina noticed it and taught him to dress turning his clothes inside out. His parents were happy. You know, it delights me when parents, even after their children leave the kindergarten, keep asking about me and my daughter (she is 2,5 now). It feels great when at the farewell party kids see me and rush towards me, and their parents keep on thanking me. My wife once told me: 'You are an unusual man, since you work in a kindergarten.'

Andrei Rybakov: From serving in Pskov airborne division to educating children

Kids who have Andrei Rybakov as a physical education teacher take pride in the fact that their teacher is a real paratrooper. He graduated from college and proceeded with military service in the legendary Pskov airborne division. But now he conducts physical education classes in the Raduga (Rainbow) pre-school department of School No. 1564 and finishes his fifth year of studies in the Moscow City Teachers' Training University. He does a thesis and expects to receive a master’s degree.

'I have found myself in pedagogy for some reason,' Andrei Rybakov said. 'There are a lot of kindergarten teachers in my family. My mother, aunt, sister and my wife work as pre-school class teachers. It was easy for me to decide where I want to study, since I had been aware of the specifics of a teacher's job since childhood.'

Today, his pupils are practicing walking, running, jumping, crawling and climbing, with the older children improving their sports skills. Children play outdoor games, and ski in winter. And as a result, they obtain proper physical base before going to school.

'The most difficult thing for me is to make parents understand how important it is to workout with their children', says the physical education teacher. 'Сhildren, whose parents care about their physical training, stand out, as they are stronger, more coordinated and dexterous. While we had been preparing for 'Faster, Higher, Stronger!' competition, a boy could not make it to long-jump well, since to get 10 points, one needs to jump 1,60m long, but the boy could manage only 1,30m. I assigned him and his parents a homework: to practice long jumping. Parents had to fix one end of a special strap on the kid's belt, while holding the other end. They had been training hard. And as a result, the boy jumped 1,63m long, thus winning the first victory in his life! He was very happy indeed, as well as his parents. And this means that my work and his parents' efforts did the thing, and I can boast a lot of such cases. In general, the most pleasant thing in my work is to see children's eyes shining, when they come to my classes happy and full of beans. One just can’t feel bad while being with children, they are able to energize, and this is a specific feature of working in pre-school classes.'


Latest Events

Moscow Maslenitsa in Fili Park

February 21March 1

Moscow Maslenitsa in the square on Olonetsky passage

February 21March 1
If you continue to use our website, you are agreeing to accept the use of cookies on your device. Cookie files ensure the website’s efficiency and help us provide you with the most interesting and relevant information. Read more about cookie files.
Accept ccokies