The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009) was developed in partnership with the early childhood sector. It covers an age range from birth to six. The framework recommends the use of play as a teaching and learning methodology for one hour per day in the infant classroom. Play as recommended in Aistear, is child-led rather than teacher-led. The children decide how and what to play in the play areas. This play is indirectly shaped and influenced by the resources made available by the teacher in each play area. In this way, the teacher has a critical role in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work in resourcing and organising the play environment.
A theme or topic is used to guide the play. This can emerge from the children’s own interests, a class discussion, a story read aloud by the teacher or an upcoming event. The topic facilitates curriculum integration through play and the teacher also uses the topic in other subject/curriculum area lessons.
There is huge emphasis on oral language in our infant classrooms and children spend time role playing and talking about what they are doing. At the end of each play session the children look back at pictures of themselves and describe what they were doing during their play activity.