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"Panchaadi" - The Five Step Pedagogical Approach Recommended by NCF for Foundational Years

What is the NEP?

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a policy developed by the Union Council of Ministers of the Indian government aiming to transform India's education system to meet the demands of a modern knowledge society. Know more here.

What is the NCF?

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) is a key component of the NEP that lays out the framework to enable high-quality education for all children while fostering an equitable, inclusive, and diverse society. Our country is a multicultural country with a stratified society with great disparity in socioeconomic status of people. NEP strives to ensure high-quality education for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status and geographical location.

What is special about NCF for Foundational Years?

The kindergarten education of India is informed by the ECCE (National Early Childhood Care and Education Resolution), a policy framework introduced by the Indian Government in 2013. It aimed to address the diverse needs of children under six years of age, particularly in the areas of health, nutrition, education, and social development.

There was no clearly defined educational curriculum for the preschool years (3 to 6 years) in India, by the way of recommended governmental policies. Now, for the first time, India has an integrated Curriculum Framework for children aged 3-8, a result of the 5+3+3+4 structure proposed by the NEP 2020 for School Education. The Foundational Stage aims to integrate ECCE for children between 3 and 8 years old, which is expected to significantly enhance the quality and outcomes of education and impact the lives of children positively. In the long term, investing in ECCE is deemed essential for long-term economic growth, improved learning outcomes, and overall prosperity.

A crucial change is that the NCF recommends play and activity based teaching approaches to develop foundational literacy and numeracy skills in children.

What is the NCF based on?

The Foundational Stage is divided into two segments: ages 0-3 at home and ages 3-8 in institutional settings. Home environments should offer adequate nutrition, health, safety, and cognitive and emotional care. Institutional settings should provide play-based education, emphasizing self-help skills, motor skills, hygiene, and physical development. Early literacy and numeracy are also prioritized during this stage.

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for the Foundational Stage concentrates on institutional settings while recognizing the importance of home environments. NEP 2020 establishes a goal for every child between the ages of 3-8 to have access to free, safe, high-quality ECCE by 2025.

The NCF is informed by global cutting-edge research from various disciplines, including neuroscience, brain studies, and cognitive sciences. Additionally, the NCF draws upon insights from the practice of ECCE and the wisdom of diverse Indian traditions. It emphasizes play as a central aspect of curriculum organization, pedagogy, and the overall child experience. The framework also outlines a clear path for achieving foundational literacy and numeracy using age-appropriate strategies, as stated in the NEP 2020.

What is Panchaadi mentioned in the NCF?

The Chapter 4 (Pedagogy) of the NCF document lays down the premise that a safe, comfortable, and happy classroom environment can help preschool children learn better and achieve more.

It recommends that the teaching approaches in this stage should incorporate care and responsiveness, providing children adequate opportunities to experience, experiment and explore.

In Section 2, the five-step learning process - ‘Panchaadi’ is recommended as a good way for a teacher to formulate the lesson plan - the sequence of activities and approaches that should be used to teach a child something.

Panchaadi - the five stepped approach to pedagogy

5 colored steps showing the steps of panchaadi, a 5 step learning process

The 5 steps of Panchaadi are:

1. Introduction

2. Conceptual understanding

3. Practice

4. Application

5. Expansion

Step 1. Introduction (अधीति)

अधीति, a Sanskrit word, means study, recollection, reflection and remembrance.

"Establishing Connections"

The initial phase involves introducing a new concept or topic by connecting it to the child's existing knowledge. Teachers facilitate children in gathering relevant information about the new subject through questioning, exploration, and experimentation with ideas and materials.


Connecting to previous knowledge plays a vital role in facilitating effective learning and fostering a deeper understanding of new concepts. This process, known as 'activating prior knowledge' or 'scaffolding,' allows children to link new information with what they already know, thereby creating a robust network of interconnected ideas. By building upon their existing knowledge base, children are better equipped to make sense of novel concepts, identify patterns, and think critically about the world around them. They can retain and recall information better and are more motivated and engaged in the leaning activity.

[Also read our previous post about what we should do to ensure better learning in children - The B-A-R-P Approach]

2. Conceptual understanding (बोध)

बोध, a Sanskrit word, means enlightenment, or the elimination of ignorance, or knowledge.

"Building Comprehension"

In this stage, children develop an understanding of core concepts through play, inquiry, experiments, discussions, or reading. Teachers observe and guide the learning process, ensuring that the curriculum includes a list of essential concepts for children to grasp. The importance of play and hands-on activities is greatly emphasized.

As a home teaching parent, you can actively support your child's comprehension development by engaging in activities that reinforce the concepts. For instance, if your child is learning about shapes, you can play a scavenger hunt at home or outdoors to identify different shapes in everyday objects. Similarly, when exploring the concept of gravity, you could try simple experiments like dropping various objects from the same height to observe which one falls faster.

Encourage your child to ask questions and share their thoughts during these activities, fostering an open dialogue that deepens their understanding of the concepts. By incorporating these interactive and hands-on experiences, you not only reinforce the core concepts but also create an enjoyable learning environment that cultivates curiosity, critical thinking, and a strong foundation for future learning.

3. Practice (अभ्यास)

अभ्यास, a Sanskrit word, means practice.

"Reinforcement through Practice"

The third phase emphasizes strengthening understanding and skills through various engaging activities. Teachers can organize group work or small-scale projects to reinforce conceptual understanding and competency development.

The aim here as a parent (or teacher) is to create opportunities for the child to practice and apply the concepts they have learned. Engaging in practical and enjoyable activities at home can make a significant difference in reinforcing a child's understanding.

For example, if your child is learning about addition and subtraction, you can play simple board games or card games that involve counting and basic arithmetic. When learning about plants, you can encourage your child to plant seeds in a small garden or pots and observe their growth over time. Even in worksheet practice, we believe that instead of rote learning and forced writing activities, we can create fun activities that promote learning through play-based approaches. Check out our Hindi worksheets which incorporate these ideas.

These hands-on experiences not only solidify their understanding but also help them develop important life skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration, and patience. By actively participating in your child's learning journey, you create a supportive environment that fosters long-lasting knowledge and skills.

4. Application (प्रयोग)

प्रयोग, a Sanskrit word, means application or use of something.

"Real-Life Integration"

The fourth step focuses on applying the acquired knowledge to the child's everyday life. This can be achieved through a variety of play activities and mini-projects that demonstrate the practical application of learned concepts.

The aim here is a seamless connection to real life. The ultimate goal of learning is to be able to apply acquired knowledge and skills in real-life situations. As a parent, you can help your child make this connection by creating opportunities for them to see the relevance of their learning in their everyday lives.

For instance, if your child is learning about shapes, you can go on a "shape hunt" around the house or neighborhood, identifying and discussing various shapes in the environment. When learning about money, you can involve your child in grocery shopping or budgeting activities, giving them a chance to practice counting coins and understanding the value of money. By incorporating these practical experiences into your child's daily life, you reinforce their learning and help them recognize the significance of their education beyond the classroom, ultimately empowering them to become confident, capable, and responsible individuals.

5. Expansion (प्रसार)

प्रसार, a Sanskrit word, means spreading, expansion, communication.

"Knowledge Sharing"

The final stage encourages children to expand their understanding by sharing it with their peers through conversations, storytelling, singing new songs, reading new books together, and engaging in new games. Each new topic learned creates a neural pathway in the brain, and sharing knowledge strengthens this learning process. A neural pathway is incomplete without teaching what has been learned, as teaching solidifies and enhances the learning experience. The importance of teaching something to another person in the learning process also underlies the Feynman Technique of learning.

When children recognize the relevance of new material to their personal experiences and prior understanding, they are more likely to develop a genuine interest in the subject matter. When they understand the concept in a natural and deep way, they can move from rote memorization to real knowledge, where they are able to apply and create from what they know. When they teach and reinforce their learning, an unshakable foundation of knowledge is laid down.

The end point of the successful learning process is when children are able to communicate their knowledge with others, thereby solidifying their understanding and fostering a sense of accomplishment. As a parent, you can support this essential stage by encouraging your child to share their newfound knowledge with family members, friends, or classmates.

For example, if your child has learned about the water cycle, they can create a simple demonstration or presentation to explain the concept to their siblings or friends. You can help them create a play activity using playdoh or mixed media and ask them to explain the concept to someone.

Alternatively, if they've learned a new skill, such as solving a puzzle or playing a musical instrument, they can showcase their abilities and teach others how to do it as well. By promoting an environment of knowledge sharing and open communication, you not only help your child strengthen their understanding, but you also nurture their ability to empathize, cooperate, and collaborate with others.

Even in school, this can be implemented well, as exemplified by the new 21K School where they have an activity called the "Flipped Classroom". This activity implements 'Flipped Learning', and involves each child having to teach a topic to the whole classroom, under the guidance of the teacher. This allows the students to be more involved in the learning process than being just silent spectators in the classroom. Also, it helps children to focus on concepts and understanding rather than memorizing terms and topics.

Sharing their learning with others lays the groundwork for the future success of children, as they become well-rounded individuals capable of connecting, creating, and contributing to the world around them.

To conclude, the Panchaadi concept inspires and reinforces our conviction at Playful Home Education that play and joyful activities should be incorporated into everything that we teach to a preschool child. For ideas on play-way techniques, check out our other posts and our fun freebies which are activity based learning worksheets. It is heartening that national policies are finally getting aligned to these concepts. The process of Panchaadi nurtures a growth mindset and fosters a lifelong love for learning, empowering children to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of knowledge and skills throughout their educational journey and beyond.


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Disclaimer: We have no commercial interests in any external websites or entities mentioned in this article.


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