It’s All About Us


The purpose of this manual is to provide materials that early childhood education, care and support providers can use to infuse an emphasis on self-determination in their program offerings. Self-determination is “the ability to define and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself” (Field & Hoffman, 1994). People who are self-determined make well-informed choices about what they want. They know and value themselves, develop and benefit from healthy relationships for support, and they plan and act to live their lives with a sense of intent and purpose. They are active participants in constructing their lives.

Given our focus on self-determination, one might expect the title to be It’s All About Me rather than It’s All About Us. However, that would be contradictory to the research on what promotes and sustains self-determination. The research is consistent. The development of strong, healthy relationships, particularly with those to whom we are closest, is one of the most important factors affecting the degree to which we experience self-determination. As a result, we focus on building self-determination for all participants in early childhood programs, e.g. children, parents, and staff.

A focus on self-determination in early childhood programs can help

  • children develop important attributes for emotional wellness and effective learning that will contribute to resilience and well-being throughout their lives.
  • parents and caregivers become more responsive and effective in their parenting skills.
  • educators and service providers be more effective in the way that they work with children and their families.


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