Resources for educators



Aistear Siolta Practice Guide

In Ireland there are two early childhood frameworks—Síolta and Aistear. While similar in many ways, Síolta is concerned with all aspects of quality in early childhood whilst Aistear focuses specifically on curriculum.
Both Aistear and Siolta highlight the importance of supporting children’s holistic development including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The Aistear Siolta Practice Guide provides information and guidance on supporting children’s engagement with STEM. There are 2 different resources, one provided for Supporting children’s learning experiences from Birth to 3 years and a second one for children from 3 to 6 years.

1. Birth – 3 years
Supporting children’s language development is fundamental to their overall development and, equally, using the language of STEM is a key role of the adult in promoting children’s understanding of the world through STEM. Adults noticing, naming and supporting babies and toddlers to understand the language of STEM can be achieved by introducing relevant vocabulary through everyday experiences such as, for example, block play, playing with water or sand, planting seeds or construction, all of which can be maximised to introduce children to STEM education.

In relation to technology, it is recommended that babies and toddlers under the age of 2 do not have any access to screens, including TVs, tablets and other touch screen devices, as their use may pose health risks. However, there are other forms of technology that can be suitable for use with young children. For example, digital cameras can be used by toddlers both indoors and outdoors to enable children to capture what is important to them. Digital cameras can be introduced to toddler groups slowly, one child at a time. Ensure that devices are robust, intuitive and suitable for little hands. Allow the children to explore taking and reviewing images and videos and discuss what the children have captured. Role-play supported by the use of technology can encourage mathematical thinking, experiences and language. Scenarios such as the shop, the library and the doctor’s surgery can engage children in making lists, ‘counting’, scanning, dialling numbers on phones and ‘typing’ on the computer keyboard. Helping children to see the use of technology in context supports their understanding of technology’s role in helping us to do things we want to do, rather than seeing technology as an end in itself.

2. 3 – 6 years
Digital technologies are an important (but not dominant) part of children’s lives. Supporting children’s language ability so that they can explain why they want to use a particular technology is central to their development of a critical attitude to technology in everyday life. Children can be supported to explain how and why they use a wide variety of technology through, for example:
• using digital cameras, children can create a learning log and also showcase their work, especially creations that are particularly important to them. Children can use the photographs as opportunities to explain and tell the stories of how and why they, for example, built a high tower and why it fell! This allows children to analyse and reflect on their experience
• children can also take photos to document a process over a period of time, such as the growth of flowers they have planted, providing the children with opportunities to think and talk about growth and the things they can do to help it along
• role play using everyday technology, for example, ‘tapping’ a card in the shop; ‘typing’ on the computer keyboard in the surgery; ‘scanning’ bags in the airport to support children in identifying the reasons for using technology • encouraging children to provide step-by-step instructions for how to complete a task such as directions to move from one place to another, instructions to make a jam sandwich, to build a sandcastle or retell a favourite story in sequence, using the language of ‘first’, ‘next’ ‘then’
• children can explore geometry through 2-D (circle, triangle, rectangle, square) and 3-D shape (cube, pyramid, cylinder, prism, cuboid, sphere). These provide opportunities for ‘maths talk’ about, for example, shapes that roll and those that stack; shapes that have edges, sides and corners and those that don’t; shapes that fit together (tesselate) and those that don’t.