Did you know that by attending a Twinkle Kids class (any type), your baby or child is reaping the full benefits of Aistear, the National Early Years Curriculum?
The word "Aistear" is Irish for "journey". This represents your child's holistic developmental journey from birth right through to age 6 and beyond. The focus is on whole-child development and is centred around four interconnected themes which are: Wellbeing, Identity and Belonging, Exploring and Thinking and Language and Communication. All of these themes are interwoven and supported by parents, teachers, facilitators, childminders and childcare workers.
It may sound like alot but in reality, by you as a parent recognising and supporting your child's interests, making time for play (particularly independent play), talking with and singing with your child, getting outside and providing for your child's basic needs, you are already gifting your child with all of the amazing benefits of whole-child learning and development!
Tell me more about Aistear?
Aistear was first implemented in 2009 after years of research and development. It is a fully play-based approach that highlights the importance of child-led play, the uniqueness of each child and the key role adults play in the lives of babies and children among many others.
Your child's creche, preschool and school will likely use Aistear to guide the activities they do each day.
Aistear is broken down into four key themes of Wellbeing, Identity and Belonging, Exploring and Thinking and Communication. These broad themes collectively give each child the best opportunity for whole-child, holistic learning and development, celebrating diversity, uniqueness and overall wellbeing.
So, let's look at how your Twinkle Kids class is supported by each of these Aistear themes:
Theme 1: Wellbeing
Wellbeing refers to the overall happiness and healthiness in children. Promoting positive self esteem and confidence are key features of a happy and healthy childhood.
Gross motor movements - exercise, movement, dance, singing, jumping, stretching, wiggling, leaping. All of these movements support babies and children's physically developing body and their internal minds. At our classes, we provide opportunities for many physical challenges to overcome whether it's learning how to jump with two feet, practicing freezing, climbing a large tree stump, rolling from back to tummy, balancing on one foot and so much more. By greeting these challenges head on and accomplishing them, children feel an incredible sense of strength, confidence and empowerment that is untenable.
Psychological Wellbeing - Our classes celebrate creative expressions in all its forms. There is no right way or wrong way, there is just our way. This acceptance supports children in feeling valued, heard and seen at our classes, a key feature of supporting their mental well being. Allowing time to be silly, to be heard without judgement, to be comfortable, to be messy and to make social connections in a world designed for them, means they can settle in easily and feel more relaxed, allowing for more areas to open up and flourish. At our outdoor classes, children spend all of the time outside in the fresh air, soaking up all the incredible psychological benefits of the great outdoors (read more about them here)
Connection to family and friends - Our classes have a keen focus on the bond between children's family and trusted circle and themselves. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to join in or simply observe their child from a distance, always present and fueling that child with stability, security and independence. Our Tummy Time classes centre around activities to do with your baby that can be easily replicated at home. We also encourage parents of all classes to listen to the songs we do in class at home so they can sing and dance together put on shows, imitate what they have learned and grow in confidence. For Stretch for the Stars, a highlight of our class is connection time where we come together and chat, helping children to connect with each other in a rapidly disconnecting world.
Identity and Belonging
Aren't we all incredible? It is truly a miracle that we are all here, alive today, reading this. We are all born completely differently, to families from all kinds of backgrounds, live different life experiences, like different kinds of music, shine in our own special and unique ways - At Twinkle Kids, this is the place to truly shine!
As babies and children grow and develop their rapidly changing abilities, our classes are designed in a way that always meets your child where they are at, rather than have your child meet any expectations. This means that no matter how your child shows up, they can take part in the class equally.
Katie takes the time to learn each child's name, a simple and respectful way to show that they matter, that she sees them and that they are welcomed without judgement. During the session, they will be acknowledged whether its through listening to stories, noticing something new or even a subtle smile for the more shy children. We also encourage children to take part in all aspects of the class, including clean up and helping others as we grow our sense of community that contributes to the class, affirming the fact that we are valued, seen and heard.
We also celebrate families at Twinkle Kids, encouraging parental involvement, allowing connection times at vulnerable stages such as babies first year, supporting children who need extra parent or family involvement at our older classes,
No matter our background, we all communicate and have a desire to communicate and be heard. Children are no different! From babies cries and squeals, to toddler tantrums, to the never ending questions, to the highly detailed analyses of the latest videogame or book they are reading.
Twinkle Kids supports your child's communicating and language development by allowing ample opportunities at classes to talk, share, laugh, move, gesture, ask questions, use facial expressions, share and trade items, high five, hold hands, offer help, make eye contact and much more.
Through song, rhyme and story, children learn rhythm, new vocabulary, sentence structure and creative expression. We learn that language is a tool that can be played with extensively, and that non-verbal communicating can speak so loudly through forms of movement, creating mud pies, role play, small world play or simply observing.
All of our activities at classes from Tummy Time, right through Stretch for the Stars, are open ended, allowing for freedom of interpretation and an invitation to create your own story with loved ones, friends or simply by yourself. In the older classes, we might encourage some simple journalling to support self-communicating which can foster more self-belief, positive self esteem and a healthy outlook. Art opportunities at Wild Wonderers outdoor play are always process driven, empowering children to communicate through paint, chalk, stamping etc.
We recognise that even newborn babies are capable communicators that deserve to be listened to and respected as human beings and do our best to support children of all ages to communicate in their own wonderful unique ways.
Exploring and Thinking
This is where everything comes together and children try to make sense of the big incredible world all around them. From babies discovering their feet, to toddlers checking under a big rock for bugs, to preschoolers discovering what happens if they sit on the ball instead of rolling it, to the bigger kids taking the chance to open up and share how they feel, children are constantly exploring and discovering the world through their senses (much like us as adults!)
This theme is built on investigating, experimenting, interacting with others, trying new things, wondering, being curious and of course, pushing back on boundaries.
The magic box is a key element of our Little & Bright Stars music and movement sessions, supporting curiousity, wonder and imagination. Our Wild Wonderers sessions are filled with opportunities to test, explore, investigate, interact and ponder the workings of the world. Risky play is also encouraged through the climbing of tree stumps and sliding down, playing in the hammock, balancing, building structures with our large loose parts.
At Tummy Time, we use sensory play to stimulate the senses which supports babies brain-body connections and movements and also use games such as peekaboo, treaure baskets and shifting visual perspectives (baby birds eye view, baby on back etc). Stretch for the Stars is all about exploring and celebrating and loving our bodies and how they move as well as the amazing things they can do. This is just a snippet of how we support the theme of exploring and thinking (I would be writing here for days if I was to cover everything!)
So there you have it! Who knew that by just showing up and having a fantastic time, your child is having their development and learning fully supported through Aistear. We provide a holistic developmental journey for babies and children, aligning with the Irish National Early Years Curriculum, providing a fully play-based approach that celebrates individuality, supports holistic development, and contributes to a positive learning environment for children. See you at a Twinkle Kids class soon!