Today, freedom of expression is viewed as both a right and a universal value. In the early childhood field, respecting children’s views is seen as important for children to develop a sense of worth, make responsible decisions, and become active citizens. Children are no longer considered passive objects in the hands of their parents and society, but full-fledged persons to whom public authorities are accountable (Santos-Pais, 1999). Children’s rights to be heard and to have their views taken into account are now embedded in education policy and practice.
For example, over the past two decades, considerable movement has been made on the global stage and in Canada to recognize children’s right to participate in decision-making processes. Globally, the international policy landmark the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is now used by many states to develop policies for children. These policies generally outline that young children can and should participate in matters that affect them, and suggest that children’s early experiences influence their later abilities, identities, and well-being.