||Young children in India received informal early childhood care and education (ECCE) traditionally by growing up in large extended families where caretaking was a shared responsibility of several adults and older siblings. Enriched home climate served as a typical setting for children to have opportunities for learning through participation in work, play and ritual activities, thus allowing learning to occur in context and in a holistic way. Opportunities for play with peer group and older children with minimal interference from adults provided for development of self-reliance and values of collectivity. A wealth of local materials and a rich cultural tradition of games, toys, songs, riddles, stories and poems provided a cultural and linguistic context for learning.
Formal early childhood education was first organized in India in pre-Independence era by pioneers like Gijubhai Badheka and Tarabai Modak in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Also, with the impetus from Maria Montessori’s work in India around the same time, some ECCE centres, organized around her didactic philosophy were started. Thus ECCE centres were started by NGOs in some urban settings and served a segment of the population who could afford such services.