Everyday Learning about agency in the early years


By Dr Victoria Whitington

The word ‘agency’ describes when a person is able to act or to do something. For children, it is based on their sense of themselves. When children have a strong sense of agency they can act independently for their age, ask when they need to seek help and make choices. These children engage and connect with those around them, explore their surroundings, and in this way come to understand what is around them and what it means in their lives.

Children who are less confident, however, tend to act in response to the expectations of others, and are likely not to begin activities on their own, or to become really involved in what they are doing.



Agency in the early years provides valuable information to help you and your child through the early childhood years of agency. Chapters cover such topics as:

  • what is agency?
  • how adults see children and how that affects children’s sense of agency
  • how to support children’s agency
  • what does agency look and sound like?
  • what hinders the development of agency?

Author Dr Victoria Whitington is a senior lecturer in early childhood education within the School of Education at the University of South Australia. Victoria currently directs two graduate early childhood programs and teaches in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Her extensive knowledge and field research provided to you in this booklet will help you guide your children through agency in the early years.

About the Everyday Learning Series:

Early Childhood Australia’s Everyday Learning Series acknowledges that the most important early learning happens through day-to-day life experiences and provides ideas and strategies on ways educators and families can make the most of these experiences to support children’s development. By ‘making the ordinary, extraordinary’, the Everyday Learning Series is an invaluable resource for educators, students of early education, beginning practitioners, and families by assisting them in maximising young children’s play, exploration and discovery, and development within learning environments.

Subscribe to the Everyday Learning Series:

The Everyday Learning Series (EDL) is a 12 month, four-issue subscription. Subscribers also receive bonus online resources which may be shared with educators and families. Learn more here. 

ECA offers libraries and institutions a perpetual access fee. Please contact ECA directly on 1800 356 900 (free call) to obtain the licensing agreement or to order.

Additional information

Weight 0.092 kg
Dimensions 17.3 × 24.6 cm



Paperback, e-version

Year published