Aistear & Siolta (Practitioners)

National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI)

 The National Síolta Aistear Initiative has been developed to provide central support and coordination of Síolta and Aistear implementation across the early childhood sector. The initiative has two strands. The first will focus on Síolta, including the introduction of Síolta awareness raising workshops and the expansion of the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme (QAP). The second strand relates to Aistear, and will see the development of workshops and coaching to support practitioners to use Aistear in their setting.

Fingal County Childcare Committee’s Síolta Aistear mentors will implement this Initiative through a range of workshop and mentoring supports from Autumn 2017.



Aistear is the National Curriculum Framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. The word Aistear is the Irish word for ‘journey’ and was chosen because early childhood marks the beginning of children’s lifelong learning journeys.
The Aistear framework can be used as a guide in planning holistic learning experiences in sessional, full and part-time day care settings, infant classes in primary schools and childminding services. It can also be used by parents in children’s own homes.
Aistear describes learning and development through four interconnected themes:

  • Well-being
  • Identity and Belonging
  • Communicating
  • Exploring and Thinking

Síolta and Aistear: Similarities and Differences:

An audit of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education was carried out jointly by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) which developed Síolta on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

The audit, which was published in 2009, helps to show how Aistear and Síolta can be used together to support the development of early childhood practice across the variety of settings in Ireland. It does this by:

  • identifying links between the principles underpinning each framework;
  • outlining the different emphases of Aistear and Síolta; and
  • showing how using the two frameworks together can enrich children’s experiences.

Aistear Síolta Practice Guide

The Practice Guide aims to support Early Years services to use Aistear and Síolta together, to develop a quality curriculum and to support children’s learning and development. The Practice Guide consists of Curriculum Foundations and 6 Interconnected Pillars of Practice. Curriculum Foundations are an important starting point when thinking about curriculum. Curriculum Foundations are rooted in the principles, values and attitudes that shape each practitioner’s work and that of the setting. The Foundations include the following four elements:

Element 1: Developing your Curriculum and Curriculum Statement
Element 2: Principles including Rights of the Child and Practitioner Image of the Child
Element 3: Themes in Aistear
Element 4: Professional Practice

The 6 Interconnected Pillars of Practice are

  • Building Partnerships with Parents
  • Creating and using the Learning Environment
  • Learning Through Play
  • Nurturing and Extending Interactions
  • Planning and Assessing, using Aistear’s Themes
  • Supporting Transitions

Each Pillar is presented in the same format and includes

  • An Overview
  • Self-Evaluation Tools (This section includes a number of Elements. Each element has a series of statements to assist the service to reflect on their current practice.)
  • Examples and Ideas for Practice
  • Resources for Sharing (Tip-sheets, Templates and Sample Presentations)
  • Action Planning Tools
  • Gallery

The Practice Guide includes a range of resources, to help practitioners to critically reflect on their curriculum, and to identify what works well. Additionally, the resources can help practitioners to identify priorities for development and to plan actions for positive change. For further information visit click here

Click above to view the practice guide

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