Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.
Síolta is designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of practice in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings where children aged birth to six years are present. These settings include:
Since December 2008, the Early Years Education Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, has been responsible for the implementation of Siolta. Early Childhood Care and Education services participating in the Free Pre-school Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme are required to “adhere to the principles of Síolta”.
The 12 Principles provide the overall vision of the Framework, while the 16 Standards and 75 Components allow for the practical application of this vision across all aspects of ECCE practice. The Components of Quality are further explained by a set of Signposts for Reflection and ‘Think-abouts’ which are intended to support practitioners in early education settings to become aware of the critical of their practice. These core elements of Síolta are set out in detail in each of the Síolta user manuals.
Aistear is an Irish early year’s curriculum designed specifically for childcare practitioners, parents and infant class teachers 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, crèches, nursery, play-schools, preschools (for example, High Scope, Montessori or Froebel approaches), Naionra and Junior Infant classes.
Parents play a key role in their children’s education. Effective early childhood settings and schools take account of the influence of the home on children’s learning and they build on the experience children bring to the setting or school. Establishing strong links with parents helps make children’s education as successful as possible.
The NCCA developed Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009) in partnership with the early childhood sector. Parents played a key role in this.
Aistear states that: “Parents are the most important people in children’s lives. The care and education that children receive from their parents and family, especially during their early months and years, greatly influence their overall development. Extended family and community also have important roles to play”.
The two main parts of Aistear are the Principles and Themes Guidelines for Good Practice. Other elements to Aistear include The User Guide and Key Messages from the Research Papers.
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
2: Children’s Connections with Others
3: How Children Learn and Develop
2. Identity and Belonging
4. Exploring and Thinking
Aistear 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.
The Guidelines for Good Practice outline 4 sets of guidelines
The 4 sets of guidelines describe how the audit can support early learning and development across the themes and outline a wide variety of sample learning experiences within the themes and guidelines.
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