This paper explores a small sample of Australian early childhood teachers’ perceptions of the rights-based concepts participation and agency. We recognise and reconcile some of the perceived tensions between the debates on participation and protection and how these play out in the teaching and learning spaces of early childhood education. Teachers’ reflections on these concepts in relation to practice are highly significant to the field, connecting the concepts of children’s rights to the reality of everyday practices in early childhood education and care settings. As brokers or conduits to participation in early learning environments, a better understanding of teacher’s professional stance enables opportunities for young children to be better heard. An understanding of complexities and relatedness within these settings, can lead to more consistent and clear policy implementation.
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