What is Aistear?

Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland; it was published towards the end of 2009. It provides information for adults to help them plan for, and provide enjoyable and challenging learning experiences, so that all children can grow and develop as competent and confident learners, within loving relationships with others. Aistear describes the types of learning that are important for children in their early years, and offers ideas and suggestions as to how this learning may be nurtured. For more information on Aistear click here

The Aistear Toolkit – A practical resource

In addition to publishing Aistear as a curriculum framework, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) also developed a valuable on-line resource to support those wishing to practically implement Aistear in their services. The ‘Aistear Toolkit’ is a place where services can access lots of practical resources to help them get started with using Aistear. The toolkit comprises of a mixture of video information to highlight Aistear in practice, posters, documents and leaflets. The toolkit provides services with the opportunity to not only reflect on their practice in light of the 4 main themes of Aistear: Communication, Identity and Belonging, Exploring and Thinking and Well-being, but also practically supports services to plan for learning opportunities centered on these themes. The toolkit is regularly updated so why not check it out and make it the ‘go-to’ place for your curriculum planning? Aistear Toolkit

The research informing the development of Aistear
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) commissioned four research papers to inform the work in developing Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Drawing on national and international research, these papers look at how:

  • particular understandings of education and care impact on children’s experiences during early childhood education
  • children learn and develop in early childhood
  • play can be used to extend and enhance children’s learning and development
  • formative assessment can support and extend early learning and development.

To download a copy of these papers click here

What is Siolta?

Siolta is the national quality framework designed for use within all services working with children aged 0-6 years e.g. childminding services, creches, infant classes and Montessori services to name a few. It outlines standards of quality practice which services should aspire to. Siolta was devised bythe former Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) and formally launched in 2006; it reflects and recognises Irish practice. Siolta is not designed to make all services the same, but rather to establish quality standards which can be achieved in many ways and through many types of curriculum. For more information on Siolta click here

Pre-school services who wish to participate in the Free Pre-School Year in ECCE must agree to provide an appropriate educational programme for children in their pre-school year, which adheres to the principles of Siolta e.g. services must have an awareness of the content of Siolta.

What is the difference between Aistear and Siolta?

Each framework has a clear and specific purpose; Siolta focuses on all elements of quality in ECCE settings, e.g. parents and families, transitions, environments etc whilst Aistear focuses on the curriculum and providing appropriately challenging, positive and enjoyable learning experiences for children from birth to six years. Both frameworks compliment and support each other.

For more information on the similarities and differences of Aistear and Siolta click on the link below to view a copy of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Siolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education