NCCA National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 24 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

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1 Guidelines for good practice

2 NCCA 2009 National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 24 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

3 Contents Introduction 5 Building partnerships between parents and practitioners 6 Introduction 7 What are partnerships? Why are they important? 7 Partnership in action 8 Supporting learning and development 8 Sharing information 12 Contributing to the setting 19 Making decisions and advocating different approaches and courses of action 22 Conclusion 25 Learning and developing through interactions 26 Introduction 27 How can I have good interactions with children? 27 What interaction strategies can I use? 28 Sample methods: Further information 31 Children learning together 46 How can I support interactions between children? 46 Conclusion 51 Learning and developing through play 52 Introduction 53 What is play? 53 Are there different types of play? 53 Where do children play? 55 What is my role as the adult in play? 56 How do I prepare the play environment? 56 How do I help children who find it difficult to play? 59 How can I use play across Aistear s four themes? 60 Conclusion 70 Supporting learning and development through assessment 71 Introduction 72 What is assessment? Why is it important? 72 What do I assess and when? 74 What information do I document, why and how? 74 How do I store assessment information and for how long? 76 How do I use the information I collect and document? 77 With whom do I share information and how? 77 What information should I gather from parents? 78 How do I collect assessment information? 79 Five assessment methods 80 Self-assessment 81 Conversations 84 Observation 87 Setting tasks 93 Testing 98 The challenges and strengths of assessment methods 101 Conclusion 102 3

4 Appendix 1: Resources for play 103 Appendix 2: Legislation, regulation and assessment 107 Bibliography 109 Figures Figure 1: Definition of partnership 7 Figure 2: Extract from Paul s daily diary 18 Figure 3: Definition of assessment 72 Figure 4: Assessment methods 80 Figure 5: Types of observation 87 Tables Table 1: The benefits of parents and practitioners working together 8 Table 2: A range of interaction strategies 28 Table 3: Building relationships 29 Table 4: Facilitating 29 Table 5: Organising 30 Table 6: Directing 30 Table 7: Characteristics of play 53 Table 8: Categorising play 54 Table 9: Enriching and extending learning through play 56 Table 10: The adult s changing role in play during early childhood 58 Table 11: Thinking about assessment 72 Table 12: Features of good assessment practice 73 Table 13: Documenting children s learning and development 75 Table 14: Challenges and strengths 102 4

5 Introduction Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. It describes learning and development through the four interconnected themes of Well-being, Identity and Belonging, Communicating, and Exploring and Thinking. Four sets of guidelines, focusing on different aspects of pedagogy, describe how the adult can support children s learning and development across these themes. The guidelines focus on building partnerships between parents and practitioners learning and developing through interactions learning and developing through play supporting learning and development through assessment. The guidelines describe good practice and use a number of learning experiences to show what this practice might look like. While these learning experiences usually focus on a particular age group of children and a particular type of setting, many of them can be adapted to suit other age groups and other settings. Thinking about my practice questions help the adult reflect on what he/she does and says to support children s learning and development. There are many connections across the four sets of guidelines. For example, many of the learning experiences in an individual set can support practice in the other guidelines. 5

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