Children don’t always have the awareness that they have choices available to them. Yet having agency, i.e. making choices based on active engagement in decision making, plays a vital role in developing a child’s self esteem as well as enabling their learning.
In this episode, we hear from Natalia Kucirkova, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Development, about the role of children as independent agents of action.
“It is really about making sure that children have choices about their own lives, it is what gives life meaning isn’t it. Agency is a fundamental human right, some say supreme human value. I think we have to see both the learning benefits as well as this broader importance of agency.”
We also hear from Koen, a strategic advisor for the Belgian organization for education and development, VVOB, based in Vietnam, who shares a story about children taking an experience and turning it into a class production:
“The satisfaction of seeing how the kids collaborated and seeing how proud they were when they realized what they had achieved, it’s a very rewarding moment for a teacher to experience something like that.”
Finally we meet Aline who works as a researcher and university lecturer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She shares a story about how reading experiences with young children can support their agency:
“When we think about agency, it is not that we are free to do whatever we want or that the child can do whatever she wants… we are always dealing with the context around us.”