Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework
Aistear (2009) is the curriculum framework for all children in Ireland from birth to six years. It describes the types of learning that are important for children at this stage in their lives. Aistear is a guide for planning exciting, engaging and fun learning experiences and activities for children in daycare and sessional services, in infant classes in primary schools and in childminding settings. It also offers lots of practical ideas to parents for how they can help their children learn through everyday activities and routines.
Aistear describes children’s learning and development using four themes:
- Well-being – How the child develops as a person, psychologically and physically. The curriculum, interactions and environment encourage the children to feel valued, respected, empowered, cared for and encouraged.
- Identity and Belonging – Supporting children to develop a positive sense of their own identity and for them to feel valued and respected as part of our community.
- Communicating – Encouraging children to share their experiences, ideas and feelings with confidence and competence in a variety of ways.
- Exploring and Thinking – Exploring how the children make sense of things, places and people by interacting with others and their environment.
By using Aistear, we are able to identify how and what children learn and what other experiences can support and extend this learning. Our team fosters learning by planning learning opportunities that are suited to children’s needs and based on their interests while at the same time be challenging.
At SALI Childcare, providing top quality care and education is of great importance to us. To help maintain and improve quality we follow the national quality framework, Siolta. Síolta, the Irish word for seeds is based on 12 Principles. These Principles of quality represent the vision which underpins and provides the context for quality practice in Early Years Care and Education in Ireland.
The Value of Early Childhood: Siolta promotes the view of Early childhood being a significant and distinct time in life that must be nurtured, respected, valued and supported in its own right. At SALI Childcare through our ethos, policies and practise we also recognise the importance of childhood. We strive to provide positive experiences for children and their families.
Children First: This principle is based upon how the child’s individuality, strengths, rights and needs are central in the provision of quality early childhood experiences. Children are central to our practise and we believe that they are active agents in their development. To provide positive experiences, we consult with children and their families.
Siolta emphases that Parents are the primary educators of the child and have a pre-eminent role in promoting their well-being, learning and development. At SALI Childcare we value and encourage the parent’s role in their children’s development. We aim to build open and honest relationships with the parents of children in our care. Having a strong positive partnership with parents contributes to the quality of our service thus promoting the best interests of the child.
Siolta believes that responsive, sensitive and reciprocal relationships, which are consistent over time, are essential to the wellbeing, learning and development of the young child. The SALI Team recognises how beneficial positive relationships are and will always aim to develop these relationships with all the stakeholders of our service including the extended community.
The principle of Equality is an essential characteristic of quality early years care and education which also is articulated in Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and in the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004. At SALI Childcare, quality is a fundamental characteristic of the provision of EYCE. In order to support the children to reach their full potential, equality must be at the centre of what we do. It is very important that all children should be able to gain access to, participate in, and benefit from early years services on an equal basis.
This principle is about us acknowledging and respecting diversity and ensure that all children and families have their individual, personal, cultural and linguistic identity validated. At SALI Childcare we celebrate and respect diversity. We promote a sense of belonging for all children within the cultural heritage of Ireland. We encourage our families and team to share their own rich and varied experiences, culture and traditions.
We strongly agree with Siolta on how the physical environment of the young child has a direct impact on their well-being, learning and development. Our preschool rooms and outdoor areas are developed to be of high quality and extend and enrich the child’s development and learning. We provide environments that stimulate curiosity, foster independence and promote a sense of belonging.
Siolta emphasises that the safety, welfare and well-being of all children must be protected and promoted. At SALI, we promote children’s wellbeing and take measure to protect children from harmful experiences. Our Policies and procedures are formed on the foundation of that health, safety and welfare of the children is paramount. Promotion of safety in our service does not prevent children from having a rich and varied array of experiences in line with their age and stage of development.
Role of the Adult
Siolta recognises the importance of the role of the adult in providing quality early years experiences. This is why our team is made up of highly skilled Practitioners with a wide range of recognised qualifications and experiences, all with an ability to reflect upon their role to improve the interactions and experiences for children.
This principle is about the provision of quality early years experiences requiring cooperation, communication and mutual respect. Our practise is one of shared knowledge and understanding amongst our team and with other with professionals involved with the child. Following the principle of teamwork ensures the promotion of respectful working relationships amongst all adults supporting the well-being, learning and development of the child.
Siolta acknowledges that early years care and education is expressed by curricula or programmes of activities which take a holistic approach to the development and learning of the child. Pedagogy refers to the whole range of interactions which support the child’s development. At SALI Childcare, we take a holistic approach by embracing both care and education. We use a range of approaches, along with the concept of the child being an active learner. This pedagogy is supported within the national curriculum framework of Aistear.
Siolta believes that play is central to the well-being, development and learning of the young child. Our ethos also agrees with this as play is a very important medium in which children make sense of the world around them. Play interactions with others and equipment are key to a child’s development and learning.
The Framework defines quality under standards and components. We use the 16 standards and their components to assess our quality from how we organise our service to the ways we build relationships with our families and community. The standards cover all aspects of how we deliver early years care and education.
- Standard 1: Rights of the Child
- Standard 2: Environments
- Standard 3: Parents and Families
- Standard 4: Consultation
- Standard 5: Interactions
- Standard 6: Play
- Standard 7: Curriculum
- Standard 8: Planning and Evaluation
- Standard 9: Health and Welfare
- Standard 10: Organisation
- Standard 11: Professional Practice
- Standard 12: Communication
- Standard 13: Transitions
- Standard 14: Identity and Belonging