Supporting Children’s Sense of Agency
In this article, we discuss what sense of agency is and how decision making supports belonging and independence. Providing children with choices and options is not the only way to support their agency, it is also about listening with respect to your child’s voice, their words, and their ideas.
What is Sense of Agency?
In the approved learning frameworks, ‘agency’ is defined as being able to make choices and decisions to influence events and to have an impact on one’s world. To help build a child’s sense of agency, we should recognise that they are capable of initiating their own learning and empower them to make their own choices and decisions.
How decision-making supports belonging and independence
Having a sense of agency in the early years is very much linked to each child’s sense of belonging. A sense of belonging develops when a child has developed trust both in the adults around them and the environment. Developing a trusting bond with infants and children is driven by our image of the child. When we ask a child which book will we read, or offer choices about whether to go to the park or the shop, we are sending a positive message to the child of trust and fostering the child’s sense of agency. The offering of choices and supporting each child’s sense of agency sends a message to the child that they are strong, capable and curious with capacity to make choices for themselves.
More than making choices
Fostering each child’s sense of agency is more than providing them with choices. When children have a sense of agency they feel more in control of themselves and develop an understanding of their influence on the people and spaces around them.
When we listen with respect to children’s voices, their words, and their ideas we model trust and collaboration showing them that they are heard and their ideas matter.
The following quote by Carlina Rinaldi from Reggio Emelia sums up the importance of listening to others including the child,
‘Listening means being open to differences recognising the value of another’s point of view and interpretation, thus listening becomes not only a pedagogical strategy but also a way of thinking and looking at others’
Children see the world through their own lenses which may be different to ours but it is frequently clearer without daily distractions, often giving us an insight a profound and clear way of seeing the world. Let’s listen deeply, be present and be willing to see the world through the eyes of the child.
How Keiki Early Learning supports children’s Agency
Keiki Early Learning follows NQS guidelines in supporting children’s Agency by:
- Promoting independent learning and play incorporating positive risk taking
- Asking questions that give children an opportunity to lead their own learning
- Allowing flexible routines led by the child’s own cues and behaviours rather than the clock
- Ensuring children’s contributions, ideas and interests are reflected in the educational program
- Promoting independence and self-help skills by allowing children to participate in routine tasks
If you would like to find out more about how we support the sense of agency in children, please contact us to speak to one of our experienced educators.