It's not just smart
kids who play chess. Chess makes kids smart.
There are many benefits to playing chess from even the youngest of ages. Chess is a highly precise and logical game that requires an ability to strategize, concentrate, all the while expressing creativity. Many researchers have found that students who play chess can score higher on standardized testing, increase spatial-reason abilities and have a more highly developed visual memory.
For example, psychologist Stuart Margulies did research that showed elementary students who played chess scored as much as 10 percent higher on reading and writing scores than anyone else of their age! There are also hundreds of accounts of researchers showing almost similar data, where in all cases students who played chess were overall more scholastically prepared than their peers for subjects in math and reading.
Research like this draws such an ardent argument for the benefits of chess that in New Jersey some of the school systems have decided to include chess in their curriculum. Additionally, schools such as the Dalton School in New York, have started programs that start children from the age of five, in Kindergarten, learning the rules of chess. This program is so prestigious that the school has one of the leading national chess teams for most age groups.
All in all, why say no to chess? It’s fun, it allows socialization, it presents problems which require you to answer and work through on your own, it increases your abilities in reading and math, and moreover, provides you with valuable abilities needed in our modern day work force.
Starting a chess club is a great idea!
Our Walton-Verona meets after school once a week at the elementary school cafeteria since we
outgrew the library. We run the club from late fall to early
spring. After using borrowed sets from teachers and parents, the
school went ahead and bought tournament-style boards and pieces from
one of the chess stores on-line. Parents take turns bringing
drinks and/or snacks and the kids help with the setup and cleanup.
Several parents run the club, giving beginners
instructions on how to play, showing more advanced moves as kids
progress, and keeping everything orderly. We use a vinyl demo
board to display to the whole group how certain moves work.
Middle school and high schoolers helpout and take on some of the more advanced students or each
other. Teachers even stop by to give the kids a game.
We like to have the winners play winners and
"learners" play learners so that everybody
gets to have a chance to meet others and play different people.
We have mini Blitz Chess tournaments throughout the year where the
kids have to use a clock and at the end of the year we have a
"Wizard Chess" day with a large board the parents made and the top
two players get to square off with "live" chess pieces.
We've also done a shield design contest and given prizes to kids who
win the most games on a certain day.
There are many ways to run a chess club, these
are just a few ideas that have worked well for our club. Good luck and have fun!