Created on: February 23, 2024
Modified on: February 23, 2024

Pre-school helps children:

  • by supporting children as they develop the important skills they need to be independent learners;
  • improve their language, communication and social skills through playing and interacting with other children and adults;
  • make new friends and develop new relationships with adults;
  • develop well-being skills – for example, children learn to balance on play equipment and practise fine motor skills like drawing with a pencil and cutting with scissors, eat with others and self-care skills;
  • develop exploring and thinking, problem-solving and creative thinking skills;
  • develop identity and belonging, responsibility, independence, confidence and self-worth through doing things like looking after their own belongings and spending time away from home;
  • get ready for the transition to school.


What happens at pre-school?

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme offers both indoor and outdoor learning experiences, as well as opportunities for solo play and group play.

Indoor learning experiences often include:

  • painting, drawing and writing
  • playdough play and sensory activities
  • puzzles and games
  • construction – for example, with blocks or Lego
  • books
  • home corners with play kitchens and dressing up


Outdoor learning experiences often include:

  • play in the natural environment
  • constructing with others
  • sand and water play
  • pretend play
  • climbing, running and jumping

Group learning experiences often include:

  • stories
  • songs
  • circle time
  • music and movement


Over 10 % of pre-schools in Ireland are Irish language pre-schools.

The naíonra is an early-immersion setting for children aged 3-5 years, supervised by an early-years teacher. Children of this age learn through play and this is done through the Irish language in a naíonra setting. A booklet for parents on what to expect in the naíonra is available here.