What is Aistear?

Aistear is the Irish early years curriculum framework designed specifically for early years practitioners, parents and infant class teachers to assist with planning and implementing appropriate learning experiences for children 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, High-Scope, Montessori or Froebel approaches), Naíonraí and Infant classes.


What does Aistear consist of?

The 2 main parts of Aistear are 1) Principles and Themes and 2) Guidelines for Good Practice. Other elements to Aistear include The User Guide and Key Messages from the Research Papers

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

2. 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:


Identity and Belonging


Exploring and Thinking


Aistear 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.


Aistear Resources

 User Guide (PDF – 1.8MB)

Guidelines for Good Practice

Appendices & Bibliography (PDF – 920KB)
Building Partnerships Between Parents & Practitioners (PDF – 1.7MB)
Guidelines For Good Practice (PDF – 928KB)
Learning & Development Through Interactions (PDF 1.7MB)
Learning & Developing Through Play (PDF – 2MB)
Supporting Learning & Development Through Assessment (PDF – 2.8MB)

Principles & Themes

Glossary (PDF – 268KB)
Introductions & Principles (PDF – 1.9MB)
Theme: Communicating (PDF -472KB)
Theme : Exploring & Thinking (PDF -896KB)
Theme: Identity & Belonging (PDF – 744KB)
Theme: Well-being (PDF -736KB)