Aistear, The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework

What is Aistear?

Aistear is an Irish early years curriculum designed specifically for childcare practitioners planning learning experiences for children aged from birth to 6 years of age. It is designed for use in all early childhood care and education settings including the home, crèche, nursery, play-schools, pre-schools (for example Eclectic, High-Scope, Montessori or Froebel approaches), Naíonraí and Junior Infant classes.

What is Aistear made up of?

The 2 main parts of Aistear are The Prinicples and Themes and Guidelines for Good Practice. Other elements to Aistear include The User Guide and Key Messages from the Research Papers

The Principles and Themes:

Aistear is based on 12 principles presented in 3 groups which are crucial to and underpin early learning and development. They are:

1: Children and their Lives in Early Childhood

  • The Child’s Uniqueness
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Children as Citizens

2. Children’s Connections with Others

  •  Relationships
  • Parents, family and community
  • The adult’s role

3. How Children Learn and Develop

  •  Holistic Learning and Development
  • Active Learning
  • Play and Hands-on experiences
  • Relevant and Meaningful Experiences
  • Communication and Language
  • The Learning Environment

Early learning and development is presented in 4 inter-connected themes in Aistear:

  1.  Well-Being
  2. Identity and Beloning
  3. Communicating
  4. Exploring and Thinking

It moves away from the compartmentalised view of early learning such as Physical, Intellectual, Emotional development etc and approaches learning from a more holistic way. The themes describe what children develop and learn such as dispositions, attitudes, values, skills, knowledge and understanding.

The 4 themes are broken into 4 aims which are further broken into 6 Learning Goals. All 4 themes contain a section which outlines sample Learning Opportunities according to 3 wide age groups: babies, toddlers and young children.

Guidelines for Good Practice

  •  The Guidelines for Good Practice outline 4 sets of guidelines
  • Building Partnerships between Parents and Practitioners
  • Learning and Developing through Interactions
  • Learning and Developing through Play
  • Supporting Learning and Development through Assessment

The 4 sets of guidelines describe how the adult can support early learning and development across the themes and outline a wide variety of sample learning experiences within the themes and guidelines.

To access the Self Evaluation Tool kit for each pillar Click Here


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