Respecting a child’s sense of agency and belonging

As babies and young children grow and develop a sense of agency, they realise that they have the ability to contribute and make their own decisions and control their own lives. A sense of agency is a very important part of a strong sense of identity3 and has been identified as a foundation to learning and well-being.2

So, what is agency?

Having agency means, ‘Being able to make choices and decisions to influence events and to have an impact on one’s world’1.

In the approved early years 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 where both

The National Quality Framework (NQF) and National Quality Standards (NQS) specifically highlight agency as a key concept to a child’s development1.

  • NQF Outcome 1.2—Children develop their autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency.
  • NQS 1.1.6—Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and to influence events and their world.

Making space for a child’s sense of agency to be expressed is actively encouraged and discussed in the approved learning frameworks.  Having agency means “being able to make choices and decisions to influence events and to have an impact on one’s world.” (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 45).

Having a sense of agency for a child in the early years is very much linked to a sense of belonging. 

This sense of belonging thrives when a child has trust in the adults and Carers/Educators around them and the environment in which they are cared for.

Developing such a trusting bond with infants and children is vital and when we listen with respect to children’s voices, their words and their ideas, we enhance this trust, showing them that they are heard.

Listening deeply, being present and being willing to see the world through the eyes of the child are just some ways of respecting a child’s sense of agency. 

Early Years Educators have a critical role in developing this sense of Agency and belonging in children.

Want to learn more?

Ternity Group National Conference 2022 in Partnership with Xplor Education

“Through the eyes of a child – respecting a child’s sense of agency and belonging”

Ternity is the group behind Nourish BabySafe Sleep Space and Sleep Smart and in partnership with Xplor Education our National 2022 Conference, brings you an amazing lineup of credible and well-respected speakers.

Keynote Speakers 

Among the keynote speakers are some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s leading experts in infant mental health including:

The conference is the must-attend event for early years educators in 2022.

To learn more about the speaker line-up and the full conference program, visit the Conference website.


  1. Early Years Learning Framework p.45
  2. PROMOTING CHILDREN’S AGENCY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Angela MASHFORD-SCOTT* & Amelia CHURCH**Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language), 2011, 5 (1), 15-38.
  4. EYLF Postcards—Thinking about the EYLF—Thoughts to inspire.