Aistear, developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA, 2009) is a curriculum framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. It provides information for adults to help them plan for and provide enjoyable and challenging learning experiences, so that all children can grow and develop as competent and confident learners. Aistear describes the types of learning, including dispositions, values and attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understanding, that are important for children in their early years.
Firies NS has always embraced the core values promoted in Aistear. It is a play-based and hands on approach for helping children to create and understand the world around them.
Over the years, our school has worked closely with the NCCA to pilot the framework in 2009 and to write articles for Teacher Magazines thereafter. Furthermore, three of our permanent staff are trained Aistear Tutors, facilitating courses and workshops for other teachers in our local Education Centre and further afield.
Aistear is used alongside the primary school curriculum to guide children’s learning journeys in our Junior Infant Classrooms. Children play for up to one hour each day. The teacher facilitates the play and joins in as a co-player helping the children to problem-solve and develop critical thinking skills. The play areas include:
Language development is a huge part of the learning undertaken during direct play time. This is particularly evident during role play areas if the children are setting up a restaurant for example or operating a Veterinary Centre. The quality of the play and by extension language used, depends on how prepared the children are for their play topic. Hence, while not engaged in direct play, the children are engaged in playful learning activities across all curricular areas including Irish, English, Maths, History, Geography, Science, Art, Music, Drama, Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Religion. The language, knowledge and insights explored through the aforementioned curricular areas ensures that the children produce rich and complex play.
Here is a diagram which provides a clear overview of your child’s daily Aistear experiences: