The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), advises the Minister for Education and Science on curriculum and assessment in early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools. In October 2009, the NCCA published Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Aistear is for all children from birth to six years. 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 framework can be used as a guide in planning learning experiences in Sessional, Full and Part-time Childcare Settings; Infant classes in primary schools and Childminding Services.  It can also be used by parents in children’s own homes

Aistear has four elements:

  1. Principles and Themes
  2. Guidelines for Good Practice
  3. User Guide
  4. Key messages from the research papers

Principles and Themes

Aistear has 12 principles. Based on these 12 principles, Aistear uses four themes to outline what children learn during their early childhood. The themes are:

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

The Themes describe what children learn. Each Theme has 4 Aims and each Aim has 6 Learning Goals.

The NCCA have developed a range of resources – The Aistear Toolkit which is available online.

The following Information Sheets are available as part of the Aistear Toolkit:

Information Sheet for Practitioners in Full Day Services

Information Sheet for Practitioners in Sessional Services

Information Sheet for Childminders

Information Sheet for Primary School Teachers

Useful Aistear Tip Sheets can be found here.

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment
35 Fitzwilliam Square,
Dublin 2,
Telephone: +353 1 661 7177
Fax: +353 1 661 7180