In this essay, Jennifer Keys Adair aims to clarify the concept of agency as a tool for improving the educational experiences of young children in the early grades. She conceptualizes agency in the context of schooling as the ability to influence what and how something is learned in order to expand capabilities, drawing on economic theories of human development, agency, and capability as they might be applied to early learning in schools. An understanding of early childhood education aimed at expanding children's capabilities stands in contrast to the currently prevalent emphasis on preparing children for the knowledge and skills tested in elementary grades. Through her classroom-based examples of student agency and her call to bring cultural and varied perspectives into the discussion, Adair hopes to encourage dynamic, agentic learning experiences for all children, not just those of privilege.

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