Aistear is the 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 within loving relationships with
others. Aistear describes the types of learning (dispositions, values and attitudes, skills, knowledge, and
understanding) that are important for children in their early years, and offers ideas and suggestions as to
how this learning might be nurtured. The Framework also provides guidelines on supporting children’s
learning through partnerships with parents, interactions, play, and assessment.

In supporting children’s early learning and development Aistear

  • Identifies what and how children should learn, and describes the types of experiences that can support this

  • Makes connections in children’s learning throughout the early childhood years and as they move from one setting to another

  • Supports parents as their children’s primary educators during early childhood, and promotes effective partnerships between parents and practitioner

  • Complements and extends existing curriculums and materials

  • Informs practice across a range of settings, disciplines and professions, and encourages interdisciplinary work.


How Aistear was Developed

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) developed Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework in partnership with the early childhood sector. Practitioners, children, parents, people in education and training, researchers, and policy makers worked together to ensure that Aistear builds on practice in early childhood settings and is informed by research.

The NCCA’s partnership with the early childhood sector involved a number of activities.
Read the series of research papers which summaries much of the literature used to inform and shape Aistear.
Find out how children contributed to Aistear by looking at the Portraiture Study.
Take a look at the key findings from the consultation the NCCA organised to support the development of Aistear.


Links to Publications;

Aistear Siolta Similarities Differences

Aistear Partnership Guidelines

Tip sheet for Parents of Babies

Tip sheet for Parents of Toddlers

Tip sheet for Parents of Young Children

Aistear Siolta Practice Guide

What is Síolta?

Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. It was published in 2006, following a three-year developmental process, which involved consultation with more than 50 diverse organisations, representing childcare workers, teachers, parents, policy makers, researchers and other interested parties.

Síolta is designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of practice in early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings where children aged birth to six years are present. These settings include:
Full and Part-time Daycare
Sessional services
Infant classes in primary schools
Since December 2008, the Early Years Education Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, has been responsible for the implementation of Síolta.

Core Elements of Síolta

Síolta is comprised of three distinct but interrelated elements: Principles, Standards and Components of Quality. The 12 Principles provide the overall vision of the Framework, while the 16 Standards and 75 Components allow for the practical application of this vision across all aspects of ECCE practice. The Components of Quality are further explained by a set of Signposts for Reflection and ‘Think-abouts’ which are intended to support practitioners in early education settings to become aware of and critical of their practice. These core elements of Síolta are set out in detail in each of the Síolta user manuals. 

The Manuals


Siolta manuals are currently out of print. We hope they will be available early in 2017.

Soft copies of the manuals are available below.

Full & Part time User Manual

Infant Classes User Manual

Childminding User Manual

Sessional Services User Manual