From birth to three: exploring educators’ understandings of agency

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The Early Years Learning Framework promotes the need to recognise children’s participation rights and for educators to be responsive to and promote child agency. This study explored how infant and toddler educators understand agency, and what role they ascribe to themselves in infants’ and toddlers’ realisation of agency. Research was undertaken in early childhood settings in Brisbane, Australia. Interviews and reflection activities were conducted with 15 educators working with children under three years, and responses coded through thematic analysis.
Participants provided some working definitions of agency and examples of supporting children’s agency in their everyday practices. However, responses largely revealed confusion and limited understandings of agency. Through engaging a critical feminist paradigm, a connection between the status provided to infant-toddler educators, and the impact upon their knowledge and practice is proposed, and recommendations put forward for increased opportunities relating to birth to three pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-334
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number4
Early online date2 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • infant
  • toddler
  • agency
  • educator
  • professional learning


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