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Early childhood education: Exploring the National Curriculum Framework

Early childhood care and education are key areas of development, according to the National Curriculum Framework 2022

The Indian government’s launch of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for Education 2022 of Children in the 3-8 Years Age Group marks a significant milestone in the field of early childhood education.

This framework aims to provide a strong foundation for the holistic development of young children across the country. At Toybank, we recognise the importance of early childhood education and its impact on shaping the lives of children.

In this blog post, we delve into the key aspects of the National Curriculum Framework and its implications for early childhood education in India.

  • A comprehensive approach to learning:
    The National Curriculum Framework emphasises a child-centered and play-based approach to education. It recognises the significance of play in fostering creativity, imagination, and cognitive development. By incorporating play-based activities into the curriculum, children are encouraged to actively explore their surroundings, engage in hands-on learning, and develop a love for lifelong learning.

For the first time in 50 Kendriya Vidyalayas, on pilot-mode, we are launching play schools in an institutionalised form with a targeted learning outcome on a pedagogy based on this NCF.

– Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
  • Holistic development:
    The framework emphasises the holistic development of children, encompassing their cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical well-being. It encourages the integration of various domains of development, such as language and literacy, numeracy, social skills, and physical development, into a cohesive learning experience. This holistic approach ensures that children receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for future academic and personal success.

  • Inclusivity and diversity:
    The National Curriculum Framework recognises the diverse needs and backgrounds of children in India. It emphasises the importance of creating inclusive and welcoming learning environments that cater to the unique abilities, interests, and cultural contexts of every child. This inclusivity promotes social cohesion, empathy, and respect for diversity among young learners, setting a strong foundation for a harmonious and inclusive society.

The launch of the National Curriculum Framework for the Education of Children in the 3-8 Years Age Group is a significant step towards enhancing early childhood education in India. At Toybank, we believe in the power of play to foster holistic development, ignite curiosity, and nurture a love for learning from an early age. Through our play programmes, we strive to complement and supplement the efforts of early childhood educators.

Together, let us create a vibrant and inclusive early childhood education landscape that empowers every child to reach their full potential and lays a strong foundation for their future success.

Source: India Today. (2022, October 21). Govt Launches National Curriculum Framework for Education of Children in 3-8 Yrs Age Group


In Jamaica, playing is a serious business: Early childhood stimulation study

We had the simple idea that if we get mothers to play more with their children, it would help the children’s brain to develop and they would catch up with their fortunate peers.
– Christine Powell, Senior Lecturer, University of the West Indies
  • More than 20 years ago, researchers in Jamaica sought to boost stunted, disadvantaged children by teaching their mothers to stimulate them using talk and play.
  • An impact evaluation allowed researchers to measure the programme’s effectiveness by comparing beneficiary children with similarly disadvantaged children whose mothers didn’t get the programme.
  • The children have been tracked ever since and the results have been remarkable. Watch the video below. 


The simple two-year intervention laid a strong foundation for:
Increased cognitive and social skills
Higher grades & reduced drop-outs
Higher earnings
98% of the children were employed at the age of 22
94% were empowered to break the cycle of poverty with full-time jobs
Reduction in anxiety and depression

Annual Report 2019-20: Ensuring happy childhoods

Mainstreaming Play requires concerted efforts. And our partners, collaborators and volunteers have held us in good stead in our endeavour. If we deny children their Right to Play, we deny them their right to understand the world.


Annual Report 2020-21: COVID-19 response

Mainstreaming Play requires concerted efforts. And our partners, collaborators and volunteers have held us in good stead in our endeavour. If we deny children their Right to Play, we deny them their right to understand the world.


Positive mental health through the power of play

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The Sibling Paradox: To Play or not to Play?

Siblings are best friends that you are blessed with and most likely spend the most time playing with growing up. These relationships span unmatched rivalry to late-night bonding sessions discussing life and challenges on each other’s bed. However, one thing you can count on siblings to do is to create unforgettable memories made during play-time—from lucky breaks and intense strategies to striking the winning moves. Here are some games that bring back the nostalgia of staying home and playing with siblings.

This game helped us learn a bit about how real estate works. Children learn how to make decisions on how some spaces are more valuable than others and simultaneously develop their cognitive as well as executive function skills. However, never once has this game ever been completed in peace when played with siblings as someone has amassed more money and property and is close to making the others bankrupt – chaos ensues.

This colourful card game teaches kids colour and number recognition and observation skills. Especially, when played with siblings it boosts exceptional attention to detail among many other things. Suddenly each sibling is well-aware of how many cards the other has picked or the number of cards one threw down in the pile. Uno has also been tweaked with households having created different rules with the much debated: Can you play a Draw 4 on a Draw 2? Thus UNO helps children build their creativity as they create new challenges and rules for the game, as well as, always keep an eye out for the hidden Draw-4 that could be hiding in their sibling’s hands.

Hide and Seek
While this game developed our gross motor coordination, muscle development and builds strength. It also encourages the children to observe and come up with good hiding spots. However, when played with siblings, this game encourages children to think extra hard about where to hide or to think outside the box- whether it is to go outside the designated area for hiding or camouflaging in the background.

It’s these play-filled moments that build the foundation of support and trust for the rest of our life. While sibling relationships are often affected by family dynamics, age, gender and more, it’s during playtime that children get to interact with each other on an equal footing and connect as individuals. Sibling bonds strengthen and they become our support system through the time spent playing together – whether it is one-on-one or as a team with other members of the family. games played with them that we bond, develop critical thinking and social skills while creating memories that last a lifetime.

Image credits: Pixabay


Chess: Of 64 squares and winning moves

Most of us would have tried our hand at a game of chess at some point, but many do not know that children as young as three to five years can benefit from playing the game. They learn to strategise, analyse, and decode while developing foresight and comprehension skills while playing this ancient board game. Created almost 1500 years ago in India, this popular game has shown an increase in concentration, memory, logical thinking, problem-solving skills and creativity. Chess has thrived for centuries and today we have international championships and acclaimed Grandmasters of the game, all under the watchful eyes of the International Chess Federation(FIDE), who have the final word on the rules and regulation of the game.

India Story
With Grandmasters like Vishwanathan Anand and Praggnanandha, Chess is played very widely across India and is especially loved by children. Currently, there are around 40 Grandmasters below the age of 15 years with Gukesh D who took the title of India’s youngest GM at 12 years, 7 months and 17 days, succeeding Praggnanandhaa who held the record at 12 years and 10 months since June of 2018.

Game Play
A game of chess can last from a few seconds, known as blitz or rapid, to hours or even days, when played in its long format. The game can be roughly divided into three stages: Opening, Middlegame and Endgame. While the Openings are more about learning different theories to position one’s chess pieces strategically on the board, the Endgame is mastering the winning moves after most pieces have been exchanged. The Middlegame is where the player can unleash his strategic thinking and creativity and play some signature moves.

Chess is a well-loved board game at Toybank’s Play2Learn centres with children from 10 years onwards getting introduced to the various nuances of this exciting mind game that requires patience as well as stamina. Even our volunteers are active proponents of this game and join our play sessions to teach our kids the ropes of winning.

Photo credit: Pixabay


A little drama on World Play Day

There is freedom in being playful and fun and not caring about what people think. This overall freedom adds to the positivity and fun and makes one feel light.

– Shaun Williams, Acting Coach and Toybank workshop curator

On the hot and humid day of 28th May, amidst the sweltering heat of Mumbai, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air as Team Toybank headed to celebrate World Play Day. The teachers from Toybank’s partner, SHARE, eagerly awaited the children at the community centre located inside the one of the serpentine bylanes of the Golibaar neighbourhood in Santacruz East, Mumbai. Soon, a teeming crowd of children surrounded Shaun Williams, the actor and drama coach, who was leading our curated World Play Day drama workshop.

After brief introductions, Shaun engaged them with questions ranging from pop culture to their favourite songs and games. And so began a round of fun vocal exercises through imitation of animal sounds and enactments of everyday activities like eating a sandwich or an ice cream. The short ice-breaker helped the children overcome their initial hesitation and dive into the ongoing playful engagements. As minutes passed, they could not wait to show their best ghost or lion impressions to Shaun.

The children made a circle as they sat on the floor. They intently focussed their attention as Shaun challenged them to get agile with a quick standing up and sitting down game. He first made a mixed group of all the children and divided the kids into two groups. Each group took turns and walked around the room as Shaun instructed them to double up their pace or lessen it by half the speed. While walking, they enacted eating a chocolate or a sandwich through their gestures. Sometimes they imagined that the floor was flowing with lava. Children were seen jumping around in glee and spontaneously acting out scenarios that evoked a range of emotions, like admiring a flower or reacting to a cockroach near their feet.

They were further divided into smaller groups of six and asked to use their bodies to showcase a flower, a car, a plane, or spell three letter words together. The kids surprised us all with their imaginative depictions. They worked as a team, strategically placing themselves, some pretending as if they were driving cars and bikes.

Even with the sun blazing, the children enthusiastically played in a large, open quadrangle. Shaun taught them many versions of Lock and Key, one remarkably had the catcher tap and ‘lock’’ as many players as they could, while the untapped ‘free’ players would try to ‘unlock’ their fellow mates by crawling through their feet. Another version had kids acting out a zombie apocalypse, where if touched, they would turn into zombies and start turning others one too. The kids loved enacting the dramatic metamorphosis into zombies.

These games invigorated the children, the sweltering heat did not matter, nor did the hot ground – there were only giggles, laughter and some zombie squeals that echoed. After this exhausting exercise, the children went back into the room, still laughing, and were instructed to hydrate and rest for five minutes. But even within those five minutes, they began playing games amongst themselves and the Toybank Team. Shaun then instructed them to lie down and guided them through calming exercises and meditation to soothe them while engaging their imagination.

After the kids seemed rested, they were again asked to sit in a circle and use a dupatta as anything but the dupatta. As an example, Shaun folded the dupatta and used it as a phone. Almost immediately the kids came up with ideas, using the piece of cloth as a steering wheel, a bike handle, headgear, as a skipping rope. Even more fascinatingly, they used it to make jackets which the children laughingly said that they learnt from ‘Five Minutes Craft’ on YouTube. Post this, a group of boys decided to present a play where they showed interactions with the police and a young boy caught speeding.

At the end of the session, this is what our workshop curator Shaun had to say: “I had a good time with the kids because I get to be a kid and be silly with them. There is freedom in being playful and fun and not caring (about what people think). This overall freedom adds to the positivity and the fun and makes one feel light. Play makes life a little more bearable and you become happy. You can be nice to other people that would make them happy and this chain reaction would cause everyone in the world, in theory, to be happy.”

It was great to see how the kids enjoyed the session and promised to not only come for more sessions but also get all their friends to join in too. This session highlighted the importance of physical play sessions. During this workshop, there were no electronics used showing the children that they can have fun and creatively express themselves through physical play sessions. The workshop made them think out of the box. In fact, the kids were sad as the session came to an end.

In today’s time when children’s favourite games are played mostly on phones, it is important to show how playing with each other without glaring at screens can be even more fun. This drama workshop helped them to develop their social and creative skills through play.

By Shanaya Dastoor


Football Tournament at Changtang, Ladakh

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5 games to build empathy through play

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