Síolta & Aistear


What is Síolta?

Síolta is the National Quality Framework for all services working with Birth-6 year olds in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector in Ireland. Síolta, meaning ‘Seeds’, was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) and was published and launched in 2006.

Síolta is designed to define, assess and support the improvement of quality across all aspects of practice in ECCE settings where children aged birth to six years are present. These settings include:

  1. Full and Part-time daycare services
  2. Childminding services
  3. Sessional services
  4. Infant classes in primary schools

Principles, Strands and Components

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. 


Síolta Resources

There are a number of resources available to support services with developing an understanding of Síolta.

Introductory Handbook (PDF – 1.7MB)
Full & Part-time daycare User Manual (PDF – 2.2MB)
Sessional User Manual (PDF – 2MB)

Infant Classes User Manual (PDF – 2.1MB)
Childminding User Manual (PDF – 2MB)

Siolta A Guide for Parents (PDF – 856KB)

For further information on Síolta, click on the link below:







What is Aistear?

Aistear is the National Curriculum Framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. The word Aistear is the Irish word for journey and was chosen because early childhood marks the beginning of children’s lifelong learning journeys.

The Aistear framework can be used as a guide in planning learning experiences in sessional, full and part-time day care settings, infant classes in primary schools and childminding services. It can also be used by parents in children’s own homes.

Aistear describes learning and development through four interconnected themes:

  1. Well-being
  2.  Identity and Belonging
  3.  Communicating
  4.  Exploring and Thinking


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)

For further information on Aistear, click on the link below:

NCCA Aistear



How do Siolta & Aistear work together?

Despite some variance in wording, both frameworks share the majority of underlying principles.

Each framework has a clear and specific purpose:

  1. Siolta focuses broadly on improving the quality of ALL aspects of the ECCE setting including administration procedures, adherence to legislation and HR and governance.
  2. Aistear focuses exclusively on early learning & development of children in your care.

On a practical level, Aistear can support adults to implement almost all of the Siolta standards. It gives particular support to the implementation of the following:

  1. Standard 1 - Rights of the Child
  2. Standard 2 - Environments
  3. Standard 3 - Parents & Families
  4. Standard 5 - Interactions
  5. Standard 6 - Play
  6. Standard 7 - Curriculum
  7. Standard 14 - Identity & Belonging


For more information on how Aistear and Siolta fit together, please click on the link below:

How Síolta and Aistear work together.pdf


Dublin City Childcare Committee
Ocean House
Arran Quay
Dublin 7


Tel. 01 8733696
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mob.:  085 8715097
Fax:    01 873 4488

CRO No.: 358269



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