AISTEAR : tHE eaRLY CHILDHOOD CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK
Aistear in Scoil aonghusa junior
In Scoil Aonghusa Junior we strive to provide the best quality learning experiences for our pupils. We are committed to keeping up to date with best practice in primary education and using methodologies and resources that enhance our children's learning as best as possible. In recent years our Junior and Senior Infant teachers have been using the Aistear framework to deliver lessons.
What is Aistear?
Aistear is a framework to support learning in the first years of a child’s education. It is the Irish word for ‘journey’. Aistear promotes teaching children in a way that’s most meaningful to them. It gives teachers information to help plan and provide enjoyable, challenging learning experiences so that all children can grow and develop as competent and confident learners. Aistear describes the types of learning that are important for young children. It offers ideas and suggestions for how this learning might be nurtured. An important aspect of Aistear is the use of play in learning activities.
Why is play important?
Play is often described as the ‘work of children’. Lots of research has taken place investigating the way in which children learn and unsurprisingly it has shown that children learn best through playful experiences. Play promotes interaction between children and adults. It improves children’s oral language skills and helps them make sense of things in a way they understand. Play improves social skills (e.g. turn taking), encourages creativity and provides opportunities for problem solving.
In Scoil Aonghusa Junior we see the value of learning through play and we use the Aistear Framework to help us provide playful learning experiences for our students.
How does Aistear work?
First teachers decide on a theme to base their Aistear lessons around. Examples include ‘animals’, ‘Spring’, ‘the farm’, ‘people who help us’, etc. The class will usually work on a theme for between two and four weeks. Through a common theme the teacher will then plan and prepare playful learning activities for the children to engage in. The time spent working on these activities is called ‘Aistear’. Most of our classes spend approximately 40 mins a day doing Aistear. Some classes do it in the morning and some in the afternoon.
Role play in Ms. Griffin's classroom
Types of play during Aistear include
Small world play
Art, including junk art
Sand & Water play
Play during Aistear is structured. Teachers carefully design the play activities. Through these play activities children are achieving the objectives of both the Primary Language Curriculum and the Primary School Curriculum (1999). Aistear also facilitates integration of curricular subject areas and allows children to learn at a pace that is suitable to them. Aistear suggests that young children’s learning can be categorised into four themes: 1.Well Being: This theme is about children being healthy, happy and confident. 2. Identity & Belonging: This theme is about children developing a positive sense of who they are, and feeling that they are respected as part of family and community. 3. Communicating: This theme is about children sharing their experiences, thoughts, ideas, and feelings with others and growing confidence and competence in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes. 4. Exploring & thinking: This theme is about children making sense of things, places and people in their world by interacting with others, playing, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining ideas. These themes guide the learning during Aistear. Aistear allows children to use their imagination, be creative and problem solve in a safe, happy, relaxed environment. Children use all their senses to learn at this time. They are immersed in language and use new vocabulary and phrases repeatedly. They communicate with their friends and teachers in a fun and enjoyable way. Through role play, children begin to make sense of the world around them. Furthermore, Aistear gives children the opportunity to practice new skills and improve their independence to prepare them for the next stage of their education. Take a look at our Junior and Senior Infants busy in action during Aistear!
More information about Aistear can be found at: https://www.ncca.ie/en/early-childhood/aistear