Identify how Aistear’s four themes - Well Being; Identity and Belonging; Communication; and Exploring and Thinking - are represented in the pedagogical approaches of Montessori and HighScope. The aim of this essay is to show how Aistear’s four themes - Well Being; Identity and Belonging; Communication; and Exploring and Thinking - are represented in the Montessori and HighScope method. One may dispute, in order to show how these themes are represented within these methods, one needs to investigate these methods individually (Aistear, HighScope and Montessori).
By investigating these methods at first, one may find where the aistear themes are existing within these methods and then one can link how they correspond. Thus providing confidence and knowledge in any childcare setting. “A worker's knowledge of childcare development is one of the main contributory factors to a high quality service across all types of childcare facility” (DLRCCC, 2012, 30/10/2012). “Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to six years” (jaggo, 2012, 30/10/2012). Aistear can be used in a range of settings, including children’s own homes, childminding settings, creches, playgroups, pre-schools, naionrai, and infant classes in primary and special schools” (NCCA, 2009, 30/10/2012). After investigation, it is clear that Aistear’s main function is to provide each child from 0 - 6 years with the same learning and growing opportunities all based within a happy and safe environment (NCCA, 2008; Quality Childcare, 2012; Early Childhood Ireland, 2012).
The importance of Aistear cannot be denied, Aistear is the Irish word for journey which is quite apt as the early years education stage aims to prepare children for their journey through life. “The aim of Aistear is to help every child to grow and develop as a competent and confident learner” (Early Childhood Ireland, 2012, 30/10/2012). “Aistear uses four themes that connect and overlap with each other to outline childrens learning and development” (Cavan County Childcare Committee, 2012, 30/10/2012). These four themes are, Well being, Identity and Belonging, Exploring and Thinking, and Communicating.
Each of these themes are devised in a way to allow children develop holistically. “Aistear is designed to work with the great variety of curriculum materials currently in use in early childhood settings (NCCA, 2012, 30/10/2012). “Aistear has the potential to make a significant contribution to children’s early learning and development” (NCCA, 2012, 30/10/2012). “HighScope is a quality approach to early childhood care and education which has been shaped and developed by research and practice over a forty year period” (Early Childhood Ireland, 2012, 30/10/2012). The central belief of the HighScope approach is that children construct their own learning by doing and being actively involved in working with materials, people and ideas” (ECI, 2012, 30/10/2012). Children develop self-confidence, initiative, creativity and problem-solving skills, they learn about social relationships, the world about them, maths, science and technology, reasoning and language, finally, they develop positive attitudes to self, others and to future learning (ECI, 2012).
The HighScope curriculum fits in very well with what Aistear is asking as the HighScope curriculum encourages all of Aistear’s themes. Well Being, by developing meaningful relationships with children and allowing them to express their feelings. Identity and Belonging, by promoting each child’s uniqueness, by sharing control with the children and by providing an environment where they can find things for themselves. Communicating, by asking children what they plan to do and reviewing what they have done, and by talking about problems to resolve them together.
Exploring and Thinking, by providing a wide range of materials that children can choose to use in whatever way they desire, by embracing nature at outside time, by providing opportunities for mathematics and science, language and literacy, music and movement (Woodland Park Preschool, 2012, 30/10/2012). “Montessori education is based on the understanding that education begins at birth and is a natural process which develops spontaneously (ECI, 2012, 30/10/2012). ”Respect for the child is the core principle of the Montessori Method of Education” (ECI, 2012, 30/10/2012). The Montessori curriculum comprises of five subject areas, Practical life, Sensorial, Language, Maths and Culture” (Playmates Montessori School, 2012, 30/10/2012). “The Montessori curriculum allows children preparing for primary to develop their full potential, building their leadership skills and confidence, establishing them as valued and respected members of their community” (Montessori Matters, 2012, 30/10/2012). “As a framework Aistear is very well suited to Montessori settings as it places importance on following the stages of development of each individual child” (Montessori Matters, 2012, 30/10/2012).
Aistear’s themes can very easily be implemented with a Montessori approach. Well Being, children will be physically strong, as healthy and fit as they can be, they will be creative and spiritual with a positive outlook on learning and life (Montessori Alliance, 2012, 30/10/2012). Communication, by the use of non-verbal communication skills, language, children will broaden their understanding of the world by making sense of experiences through language and express themselves creatively and imaginatively (Montessori Alliance, 2012, 30/10/2012).
Identity and Belonging, through encouraging active listening skills, circle time, grace and courtesy exercises and allowing free choice of work and activities (Montessori Alliance, 2012, 30/10/2012). Exploring and Thinking, by allowing freedom of choice, circle time, changing learning opportunities frequently, allowing all areas of the Montessori Approach to Education contribute to child’s development of a sense of time, shape, space and place and by using real objects and real world situations to contribute to child’s understanding of concepts (Montessori Alliance, 2012, 30/10/2012).
Research shows that, “young people born in poverty experience fewer emotional problems and felony arrests if they attended a preschool programme that focused on child initiated learning activities rather than scripted academic instruction” (Schweinhart & Weikhart, 1997, 30/10/2012). “The first six years of a child’s life are vital for their development as they absorb all things around them. It is during these first six years that all patterns for their future thought and behaviour are firmly established” (Montessori Matters, 2012, 30/10/2012).
We can see how important it is that Aistear be implemented, be it through the Montessori or HighScope approach within an Early Years Education setting to allow each child to develop holistically thus giving them the best foundations possible on which to continue to flourish throughout their lives. “Empowering children through early education could allow them to voice their fears and equip them with a knowledge of their rights” (Gunning, 2010, 30/1/2012). Aistear, Montessori nd HighScope all aim to nurture the love of learning, encourage respect for others and above all, ensure that children experience a warm, positive environment where they feel safe and at ease (Nourrice, 2012, 30/10/2012). It is clear from international research that high quality childcare can have many long term benefits for children and their families. “Children who have attended high quality pre-school services are likely to perform better in school and have less chance of leaving early” (DLRCC, 2012, 30/10/2012).
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