Parents guide to Síolta and Aistear

A quick guide to Síolta, the quality framework and Aistear, the National Early Years Curriculum framework.

Parents guide to Síolta and Aistear


Síolta (meaning seeds) is a quality framework for early childhood care and education services.


Síolta’s quality framework can be used in different Early Childhood Care and Education services (ECCE) such as crèches, nurseries, preschools, play groups, child-minders and infant classes.  All ECCE services can use this framework regardless of the curriculum approach they use e.g. whether they are play-based, Steiner, Froebel, Montessori or Primary school.


Principles of Síolta

The framework is based on 12 Principles which guide the way we work in ECCE services. They guide how we organise our services, how we relate to children, families and to each other.


Standards of Síolta

Síolta also establishes 16 Quality Standards which will guide the way in which all early childhood care and education services work and develop in Ireland. The Standards cover all aspects of early childhood care and education delivery and practice.


Síolta Quality Assurance Programme

Síolta also serves as a Quality Assurance Programme.  ECCE services participating in this programme work through all 16 standards of Síolta using them to reflect on and improve the quality of their services.  They are then validated by the Department of Education and Skills (DES).


For further information please visit the Practitioners’ Síolta page.

You can also download a Síolta Information leaflet, specifically for parents, which was designed by the former Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE).



Aistear (the Irish word for journey) is the national curriculum framework for the early years sector.


Aistear is the national curriculum framework for the education and care of children from birth to six years in Ireland, published by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).


How Aistear works

As the name implies, education is a lifelong journey that can take many different routes. Therefore, the framework does not prescribe any one programme or curriculum. Rather it establishes the shared principles and themes which must underpin whatever curriculum practitioners and teachers choose to use. Aistear is designed to support parents, early childhood practitioners and teachers in planning for and providing enriching, challenging and enjoyable learning opportunities for children.


The types of Learning

It describes the types of learning that are important for babies, toddlers and young children. It can be used in different types of settings including children’s homes, child-minding, day care, preschool and school settings.


The Aistear Toolkit

The Aistear toolkit provides lots of information for adults to help them plan for and provide enjoyable and challenging learning experiences, so that all children can grow and develop.


For further information about Aistear, please visit the practitioner’s Aistear page.

You can also download NCCA’s Aistear Leaflet, specifically for Parents.

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