So what does “sense of agency” actually mean?
Children spend considerable time in child care environments where they experience an array of experiences, resources and relationships, all of which influence their sense of self, how their view themselves and others and they respond to their environment.
How we, as educators view the child will have an enormous impact on the experiences and opportunities we provide, how we support children’s choices and decision making, how we therefore support their sense of agency.
In a nut shell… sense of agency refers to how we are in control of our behaviour and thoughts. So, do we encourage and support this with children? Do we allow children to make choices such as what they would like and how much they would like to eat for lunch, do we allow them to make choices about friendships or do we impose the unrealistic social rule of “we are all friends at kindy”?
Do we truly provide choice or are choices available within educator parameters.. a great example of this is within the creative arts area… children may be able to design and make what they like, however only with the resources chosen for them…
Ways we can foster this with all ages is asking an infant which bib they would like to wear and identify with their response, whether it be a point or gaze, enabling toddlers to serve their lunch, pre-schooler’s to choose their lunch partner and including children in the design of the physical space, the reflection of the curriculum, documentation of their learning.
Sense of agency is not about “free for all”… “do what you like” … it is about supporting infants, toddlers and children in making decisions, listening to their ideas, allowing them to challenge others ideas in a respectful manner and feel that their ideas, thoughts, theories and decisions are respected.