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Types of Pre-School

Full Day Care Services

Full day care services are provided to pre-school children for more than 3.5 hours. These include day nurseries and crèches, are usually geared at all ages of pre-school children including babies, and can often also take in school children in the afternoon. They are great for parents who are considering going back to work part time, and are worth considering if you think the other options here will not provide the hours you're looking for.

Sessional Services

Sessional Services offer a planned programme for usually no more than 3.5 hours per session and include pre-schools, playgroups, crèches, Naionrai and Montessori groups. These are usually available to children aged three and over. A 1999 survey by Pobal found that playgroups made up nearly 60% of all sessional care.

Drop-in Centres:

Children can be left for a short time while parents avail of a service, such as shopping or a gym.

Play School

A play school environment uses a play based curriculum to aid them through their developmental progress. This will be done in a supervised environment encouraging free play to help with decision making, independence and problem solving. There are usually a lot of art and craft, home corner, dress up, outdoor play, and music activities.

Pre- School

The pre- school environment is to help your child to prepare for the big jump to school and its structured routine at a gentle pace. It is generally a play based curriculum, including table top activities, art and crafts, music and songs and outdoor play.


Montessori is a structured environment, where your child will be allowed to learn at his / her own pace, using age and stage appropriate specific Montessori equipment. Your child will also usually have outdoor play time, art and craft, and music.

High Scope

High Scope uses a Plan - Do - Review programme. This means that the children sit down in the morning with the staff and plan what they intend to do, they then go about their activities and at the end they then review how it went with the staff members. This encourages independence, decision making and problem solving skills, and general developmental progress, all done through loads of fun!! More about highscope


The naíonraí environment uses a play based curriculum. Many of the activities would be the same as a play school with the added benefit of using the Irish language in a fun and encouraging way. Children are involved in a range of activities and games, using sand and water as well as using age-appropriate toys. There is an emphasis on arts and crafts. Skills are also developed in the areas of reading, writing and maths. Irish is the only language used throughout the session. For further details contact Forbairt Naíonraí Teo, who are the leading national voluntary agency in Ireland for promoting Irish through pre-school education.