Respecting Children’s Agency for Learning and Rights to Participation in Child Care Programs

Berthelsen, Donna C. & Brownlee, Joanne M. (2005) Respecting Children’s Agency for Learning and Rights to Participation in Child Care Programs. International Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), pp. 49-60.


The rights of participation for children in child care programs have not received strong attention. This is because the primary purpose of such programs is not to serve the needs of children. Government in many western countries support and promote child care primarily to serve economic imperatives related to parental participation in employment. The nature of many child care programs act against the recognition of the rights of young children in these institutional settings unless adults appreciate that children are agents of their own learning. This paper reports an empirical analysis of child care workers’ understandings of toddlers’ learning, within centre-based child care programs. The analyses draw on responses from 21 child care workers to questions about how children learn, how they know when children have learnt something, and examples of learning by young children which they had observed in their practice. The analyses provide insight into child care practices as the child care workers explain their experiences and understandings about children’s learning. The analyses revealed a sense of mutual engagement in learning between adults and children. Children’s participation is encouraged by collaboration between adults and children, shared understandings, and adult respect for children’s autonomy and independence.

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13 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 1247
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 0020-7187
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 OMEP Publications
Deposited On: 09 May 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2013 01:03

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