Document Type

Working Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details



This is the Executive Summary of the background paper Children’s early learning and development, sets out the theory and research underpinning children’s early learning and development in the Framework for Early Learning. The paper essentially responds to the question - how should we envision and understand the child as a young learner? The paper begins by outlining the context for early childhood care and education in Ireland by referring to our economic and social climate, the increasingly multicultural nature of society and relevant legislation and policy. Drawing on centuries of research, the modern day view of the child is one of him/her being a competent learner, capable of making choices and decisions; a young citizen and participator in many contexts (family, early childhood setting, community and society); actively learning in reciprocal relations with adults and other children. This new construction of childhood is oriented towards the child’s present rather than his/her future. Building on this image of the child, key messages about how children learn and develop are condences in this Executive Summary.