Play in Aistear and Síolta, the national curriculum and quality frameworks The research is so clear about the benefits of play that in Ireland we have established play as central to the early childhood curriculum. Both Aistear, the national curriculum framework from the National Council For Curriculum and Assessment, and Síolta, the national quality framework from the Dept. of Education, emphasise the importance of play in the home and in early education settings. Aistear tells us that engaging in play is good for children’s health and well-being. It is a way of creating community so that children develop a sense of identity and belonging. It is a way of communicating and exploring and thinking. These, Aistear tells us, are the most important learning outcomes in early childhood. Play in early childhood care and education services
Children need companionships, time, space and materials to play. In preschool settings, we provide these:
We plan the play space so that children can choose where, what and with whom they want to play. They have easy access to props and materials that they can use to develop their ideas, experiment, design, build, create stories and stretch their imaginations and skill. Adults are there as an additional resource. They offer help and guidance when required and use the many opportunities that a playful environment offers to promote learning. When you walk in to a playgroup setting where children are learning through play you will see them play with sand, water, bricks, paint, puzzles, books. They will be talking, laughing, reading, writing, building, dancing, singing and most of all they will be pretending – pretending to be a mother or father or child, pretending to be a builder, an engineer, a shopkeeper, a hairdresser, learning from one another and showing us all how competent they are and what they have learned about the world around them. For this reason, Vygotsky (1933) tells us that in play the child is a head taller than...
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