Aistear is an Irish word which means ‘journey’ and it was picked as a title for this curriculum framework for children in Ireland aged 0-6 years old, for two reasons.
- On the day we are born we all start our learning journey in life
- Aistear details our “learning destination” using aims and learning goals. There are lots of different ways (eg curriculums, methods of teaching, timewise) or “roads” to get to these goals, the journey is different for each child and setting.
The logo for Aistear depicts a “boat” or a “road” symbol, underneath the word to reflect this learning journey, each child embarks on in life. The boat or road is coloured green to reflect Ireland, also called the “green isle”. Also the words in English underneath “Early Childhood Curriculum” brought together with the same words in the Irish language, reflect our two languages spoken in our country “our cultural heritage”.
Aistear was developed after years of planning, research, consultation and development between the NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) and the early childhood sector. It is the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and was developed for children living in Ireland from birth to six years. It was published for the first time in October 2009 by the NCCA, and since then lots of training, seminars and courses have been rolled out for people working in the early years sector, to train us all in how to work with and implement Aistear in our settings.
The aim is for Aistear to be used in the vast range of early childhood settings where children learn, including children’s own homes, childminding settings, full and part-time daycare settings, sessional services and Junior and Senior infant classes in primary schools throughout Ireland.
The Aistear framework is divided into four themes, which then break down into aims and learning goals, to describe the content of children’s learning and development:
- Identity and Belonging
- Exploring and Thinking
Síolta is the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and was published in 2006. It was developed on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education.
Síolta translates as “seeds” into English. Síolta is designed to help services providing care of a child from birth to six years, whether full or part-time daycare, childminding or sessional services, as well as infant classes in primary schools, to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of their practice in their ECCE (early childhood care and education) setting.
There are 12 defined principles in Síolta which provide the overall vision as well as 16 standards of quality. This then breaks further down into 75 components to help settings to practically apply these ideals, throughout all areas of the setting’s curriculum and way of operating.