What is Síolta?

Síolta is a quality framework for all services working with children 0 – 6 years of age in the
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector in Ireland. Published by the CECDE in
2006, it provides a framework to guide the reflection and enhancement of quality in all ECCE
services. It is designed specifically within an Irish context and for use within all ECCE services
regardless of curriculum or approach (for example Childminding, Montessori or Play based

What is Síolta made up of?

Síolta is made of several elements including an Introductory Handbook, User Manual and CD
ROM. Other materials available include a poster outlining the principles of quality and an
information leaflet for parents.

The Introductory Handbook outlines background information on Síolta such as the context and
characteristics of the overall framework.

The User Manuals are presented in 4 variations to encompass all types of service provision
within the Irish ECCE sector including “Sessional Services”, “Infant Classes”, “Full and
Part time Daycare” and “Childminding”. All User Manuals include the 12 Principles and 16
Standards of Síolta.

The 12 Principles of Síolta are identical in all 4 manuals as they guide the under pinning values
of quality practice regardless of service type. They are:

Principles of Síolta

  1. The Value of Early Childhood
  2. Children First
  3. Parents
  4. Relationships
  5. Equality
  6. Diversity
  7. Environments
  8. Welfare
  9. Role of the Adult
  10. Teamwork
  11. Pedagogy
  12. Play

The 16 Standards, relate to various aspects of service delivery and are further broken into sub
sections called “Components”. While the Standards are the same in all User Manuals, some of
the components may vary slightly in order to suit each type of service.

Standards of Síolta

  1. Rights of the Child
  2. Environments
  3. Parents and Families
  4. Consultation
  5. Interactions
  6. Play
  7. Curriculum
  8. Planning and Evaluation
  9. Health and Welfare
  10. Organisation
  11. Professional Practice
  12. Communication
  13. Transitions
  14. Identity and Belonging
  15. Legislation and Regulation
  16. Community Involvement


What is Aistear?

Aistear is an Irish early years curriculum designed specifically for childcare practitioners
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, crèche, nursery, play-
schools, pre-schools (for example Eclectic, High-Scope, Montessori or Froebel approaches),
Naíonraí and Junior Infant classes.

What is Aistear made up of?

The 2 main parts of Aistear are The Prinicples and Themes and Guidelines for Good Practice.
Other elements to Aistear include The User Guide and Key Messages from the Research Papers

The Principles and Themes:

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
  • The Child’s Uniqueness
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Children as Citizens
  1. Children’s Connections with Others
  • Relationships
  • Parents, family and community
  • The adult’s role

3. How Children Learn and Develop

  • Holistic Learning and Development
  • Active Learning
  • Play and Hands-on experiences
  • Relevant and Meaningful Experiences
  • Communication and Language

The Learning Environment

Early learning and development is presented in 4 inter-connected themes in Aistear:

  1. Well-Being
  2. Identity and Beloning
  3. Communicating
  4. Exploring and Thinking

It 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.

Guidelines for Good Practice

  • The Guidelines for Good Practice outline 4 sets of guidelines
  • Building Partnerships between Parents and Practitioners
  • Learning and Developing through Interactions
  • Learning and Developing through Play
  • Supporting Learning and Development through Assessment

The 4 sets of guidelines describe how the adult 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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