Principles and Themes

Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework celebrates early childhood as a time of being, and of enjoying and learning from experiences as they unfold. This early learning  lays important foundations for later learning. Because early childhood marks the beginning of children’s lifelong learning journeys, this framework is called Aistear, the Irish word for journey.
Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework presents children’s learning and development using four  themes and is underpinned by 12 interconnecting principles. These are: The themes are:
■ Well-being
■ Identity and Belonging
■ Communicating
■ Exploring and Thinking.

The themes describe what children learn—the dispositions, attitudes and values, skills, knowledge, and
understanding. Each theme begins with a short overview of its importance for children as young learners.  Each individual themes is then presented using four aims.

The first group concerns children and their lives in early childhood:

  • the child’s uniqueness 
  • equality and diversity 
  • children as citizens. 

2. The second group concerns children’s connections with others:

  • relationships 
  • parents, family and community
  • the adult’s role. 

3. The third group concerns 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.

Each principle is presented using a short statement. This is followed by an explanation of the principle from the child’s perspective. This explanation highlights the adult’s role in supporting children’s early learning and development.


Principles and Themes Theme: Wellbeing Theme: Identity and Belonging Theme: Communicating Theme: Exploring and Thinking