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Early Childhood


The Arts in Education Portal, 2023 Portal Documentation Award Recipient Project, ‘SCEALTA; Our Bus, Our Journey’ led by artist-in-residence Cliodhna Noonan with Tuam Community Childcare and WizzKids, Tuam, Co. Galway. Funded by the Arts Council, facilitated by ATU Galway and Mayo.

Beginning Is the Hardest Part

A Critically Sympathetic View on the Early Childhood Education and Care Landscape

This article comments on developments in the Irish early childhood education and care landscape in 2023. The many initiatives documented in this Yearbook are a sign that early childhood education in Ireland is very much alive. The article traces some of the critical aspects that have shaped the early childhood environment, following up on the author’s overview articles in previous editions of the Yearbook.

Mathias Urban
Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Research Centre, Dublin City University

Updating Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework

This article from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) describes the Council’s work since May 2021 in updating Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009). It briefly references the rationale for updating Aistear before describing the updating process and the proposals for the updated framework.

Donna Carolan
Education Officer, NCCA

Dr Mary Daly
Education Officer, NCCA

Dr Jacqueline Fallon
Former Director, Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA

Lorraine Farrell
National Aistear Development Officer, NCCA

Dr Derek Grant
Director, Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA

Dr Sharon Skehill
Education Officer, NCCA

Nigerian Immigrant Mothers’ Perspectives on the Universal Early Childhood Care and Education Programme in Ireland

This article summarises the findings of a study describing the views of Nigerian mothers on the many benefits of the universal Early Childhood Care and Education programme in Ireland. Without this programme, the participants probably would not have been able to send their children to preschool, return to work, or take up training, because of the high costs in Ireland.

Florence Ajala
Assistant Lecturer and Doctoral Researcher in Early Childhood Education, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

The Early Childhood STEAM Network

An established community of practice

In 2021 the use of a STEM network was proposed to support early childhood (EC) professionals’ understanding and knowledge of EC STEM. Since then, a vibrant community of EC educators, managers, and academics has blossomed. This article details the network’s aims, successes, and plans, showing the valuable role that communities of practice can play in embedding and supporting STEM in EC.

Sandra O’Neill
Assistant Professor, DCU Institute of Education, and Founder of EC STEAM Network
Cora Gillic
Lecturer and Researcher, School of Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education, DCU Institute of Education
Nicola O’Reilly
Lecturer and Researcher, School of Language, Literacy and Early Childhood Education, DCU Institute of Education

Early Childhood Home Visiting in Ireland

An essential prevention and early intervention service for children, parents, and families

Early childhood home visiting (ECHV) is an evidenced-based proven service delivery strategy that helps children and families thrive. In 2022 only 4,340 children aged 0–5 years – 1% of the eligible population – received this service. The current policy context in Ireland is an unique opportunity to develop an integrated, strategic ECHV approach aligned with national policies, in particular First 5 (DCEDIY, 2018). Creating the necessary funding, infrastructure, research, and strategic planning supports at national and local level would enable, at the very least, the 12,000 babies born into poverty each year to receive a high-quality home visiting service.

Josephine Bleach
Director of the Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland, and Chair of the Home Visiting Alliance
Susan Brocklesby
Independent Consultant

Stay and Play Sessions in the Early years

A medium for integrating Ukrainian children and their families into communities in Ireland

When traumatic situations like war occur early in life, the wiring of children’s neural pathways is affected negatively. In light of the current Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, this article addresses the integration of Ukrainian children (0–18 years) into the Irish community through Early Childhood Education and Care settings and after-school support programmes. Underpinned by the Aistear and Síolta frameworks, Stay and Play sessions were facilitated in children’s residential facilities.

Helen Awhinawhi
Early Childhood and Education Lecturer, Technological University of the Shannon
Muriel Martin Flynn
Committee Manager, Westmeath County Childcare

My Place to Play

An interagency response to addressing the needs of young children living in emergency accommodation

This community action research explores an interagency response to supporting parents living in emergency accommodation to provide a safe, playful, developmentally appropriate environment for their babies and young children. Research highlights the importance of parental involvement if their children are to thrive in education and life. This work and its findings show the positive effects of interagency working at local, regional, and national level to improve outcomes for children and families.

Shingirirayi Mabika
Research Intern, Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland
Marion Byrne
ABC 0–2 Programme Senior Specialist, Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland
Lána Cummins
National Assistant Director, Early Learning Initiative, National College of Ireland

Understanding Play-Based Pedagogy in the Irish Infant Classroom

There is growing interest in the play-based pedagogy known as Aistear (NCCA, 2009) in the infant classroom. To facilitate a play-based pedagogy, it is essential for teachers to attain theoretical awareness of what play is and how it helps children learn and develop. This article provides an overview of this subject and outlines the obstacles to successful implementation of play-based pedagogy in infant classes in Ireland.

Dr Linda Davern
Lecturer, Technological University of the Shannon

LINC-ing the Gap between Aspirations and Realities of CPD in the Early Years Sector

The influence of learning on educators’ perceptions and practices of inclusion

The paper is drawn from a PhD study on Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC) and how engagement in this continuing professional development (CPD) programme influences early years educators’ perceptions and practices of inclusion. It considers the contextual reality of the sector and addresses challenges to inclusive practice. It looks at Guskey’s (2002) evaluation of CPD in education and how learning from such programmes can be adapted and considered in relation to child voice and participation in settings and schools.

Dr Sharon Skehill
Early Childhood Researcher and Educator, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

Critical Hope: Meaningful Inclusion through the Primary School Curriculum Framework

Possibilities and practicalities

This paper, which focuses on children with additional needs, examines the recently published Primary Curriculum Framework from an ecological stance, discussing possibilities and practicalities in its implementation.

Mary Moloney
Lecturer in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Mary Immaculate College
Sarah O’Leary
Researcher and Lecturer in Inclusive Education, Mary Immaculate College

Atlantic Technological University’s Artist-in-Residence Programme for Students of Early Childhood Education and Care

Atlantic Technological University was awarded an artist-in-residence programme for 2022–2023, funded by the Arts Council, for an artist to work with students undertaking the university’s BA programme in Early Childhood Education and Care. This article describes how the programme arose, the creative initiatives that took place, and the results for students, children, and everyone involved.

Dr Rita Melia
Lecturer in Early Childhood Education and Care, Atlantic Technological University Galway / Mayo

Childminding’s Role in Early Childhood Education and Care

Creating societal awareness

This article aims to create societal awareness about childminding. It explores the various types of childminding provision that are currently available and what they offer to families and children. It also outlines the introduction of the National Action Plan for Childminding (2021–2028) and what impact it may have for childminding in Ireland.

Sinéad Moran
Childminder and PhD Candidate, Trinity College Dublin
Aoife Lynam
Assistant Professor in Psychology of Education, Trinity College Dublin
Conor Mc Guckin
Associate Professor in Psychology, Trinity College Dublin

Other Chapters Ireland's Education Yearbook 2023

Ireland's Education Yearbook 2023 is supported by:

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