We will test the impact of our intervention using a randomized controlled trial. We will form three groups of 70 preschools operating in schools in the slums of Delhi. These preschools are operated by Pratham, our partner, either in premises rented in the community, or inside the government schools (if we use both types of schools, we will stratify the randomization by type of school).
(1) In the first group (status quo), Pratham will implement its regular curriculum.
(2) In the second group (math games), Pratham will implement its regular curriculum, with the same type of teachers, but three hours per week, the math games assistant will play the math games with the older children, who would be gearing up to attend school that spring (the teacher will be free to play the math games with the younger children as well, so those children may be indirect beneficiaries of the intervention, but they will not be part of the formal study).
(3) In the third group (social games), a trained assistant will implement “social games.” Six social games, each equivalent in gameplay and teacher/peer engagement to one math game but lacking in numerical or geometric content, will be introduced to classrooms following the same schedule as the math games. Social games aim to enhance children's pedagogical learning by training basic communicative skills such as evaluating emotions on a face or determining the object of a person's attention. This condition will allow us to distinguish the impact of structured play from the focus on non-symbolic mathematics per se. To minimize halo effects, social and math games will be presented as equally beneficial (as, indeed, they may be).