The purpose of the paper was to investigate the relationship between children’s learning experiences in different kinds of early childhood settings and the development of agentive perception. Specifically, two different kinds of early childhood settings were examined: (1) academic-oriented kindergarten in which the acquisition of academic skills is stressed; (2) child-centered kindergarten in which three generic skills (i.e. creativity, communication and collaboration) are emphasized. By using Reunamo’s (2007) interview tools, the agentive perception of children in two different kinds of early childhood settings was analyzed. The study involved sixty four-to-five-year-old children in two early childhood settings in Hong Kong. The children were interviewed and ask how they would deal with sixteen educational situations. The children’s answers were categorized into five groups as accommodative, participative, dominant, withdrawn and uncertain. The actual classroom practices (e.g. literacy activities, whole group instruction) among these two early childhood settings were examined to provide additional insights into factors that influenced the development of agency. Results showed that children in two different early childhood settings interact with the environment in similar ways. Both children were found to be more participative than accommodative. They recognize that they can have an effect on the environment, and may negotiate with others in that environment. However, the proportion of uncertain answers was substantially higher for the children schooled in the academic-oriented kindergarten. In addition, more than eighty percent of the uncertain answers came from male children. As suggested by Reunamo’ agentive perception (2007), children’s uncertain answers produce weaker and more uncertain relationships with teachers and peers. Our findings revealed the negative impact of early academic experiences on the development of agency. The situation was more problematic for 10 the male children. Given these findings, the implications for the development of agency in early childhood education were discussed.
|Publication status||Published - May 2013|