The Aistear Síolta Practice Guide by NCCA has been launched and is available to access at:
The purpose of the Practice Guide is designed to support practitioners in using Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009a) and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) together to develop the quality of their curriculum and in doing so, to better support children’s learning and development. The Practice Guide can also be used for on-going review, development and improvement by individual practitioners.
The Practice Guide is based on the understanding that settings are compliant with, or are working to become compliant with The Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations (Department of Health and Children (DHC), 2006). The Practice Guide provides a range of resources included both in the guide and through the associated podcasts which can be used to support practitioners to critically reflect on their curriculum and to identify what works well.
The resources in the guide can be used to help practitioners to identify priorities for development and to plan actions for positive change. In this way, the Practice Guide can be used for on-going review, development advice and support in specific area where quality issues have been identified.
The guide advises that services should begin with working on the 4 elements of Curriculum Foundation;
- Developing your Curriculum and Curriculum Statement
- Principles including Rights of the Child and Practitioner Image of the Child
- Themes of Aistear
- Professional Practice
A series and selection of activities for each of the Elements are included in the guide which can be used as group activities for services during in house training or may be used as a topic for discussion at staff meetings. Team implementation plans have been developed and are included in the guide, some of these have been designed to be used at a later stage in a programme of development.
In addition to the four elements of Curriculum Foundation six pillars of practice have been developed each of which provide a self-evaluation tool for services.
The six interconnected Curriculum Pillars consist of:
1. Building Partnerships with Parents
2. Creating and Using the Learning Environment
3. Learning through Play
4. Nurturing and Extending Interactions
5. Planning and Assessing using Aistear’s Themes
6. Supporting Transitions.
There are 5 categories of resources in each of the pillars which can be used by the service. These consist of;
1. Self-evaluation Tools
2. Examples and Ideas for Practice
3. Resources for Sharing
4. Action Planning Tools
There are also some short podcasts, photo presentations, video clips and practical tip sheets in the sections, Examples and Ideas for Practice and Resources for Sharing at www.aistearsíolta.ie,