Chess originated from the Gupta Empire (600CE), of India. Urban legend says that the king wanted a game that would challenge his children’s reasoning skills and give them an educational advantage. Thus, the game was born. The pieces come from the primary military elements of that time: the infantry, the elephants, the calvary, and the chariots.
Our TAMS and ED homeschoolers, from 3rd grade and up, are required to include chess play in their academic plans. This strategic game of pawns, queens, knights, and kings helps build cognitive skills for all students, including those who are gifted, struggling readers, and those with learning challenges, like dyslexia. Research shows that learning chess raises testable IQs by as much as 15 points (Dauvergne, 2000). Chess players build strong cognitive (thinking) skills through logic and reasoning and they fine tune their ability to pay attention and stay focused.
The article titled, Benefits of Chess in Education, comes from top educators around the world who argue in favor of teaching youngsters how to master the game. Chess champion and Senior Economics and Business lecturer, Dr. Peter Dauvergne, says that chess: (Download PDF)
• Raises intelligence quotient (IQ) scores
• Strengthens problem solving skills, teaching how to make difficult and abstract decisions independently
• Enhances reading, memory, language, and mathematical abilities
• Fosters critical, creative, and original thinking
• Provides practice at making accurate and fast decisions under time pressure, a skill that can help improve exam scores at school
• Teaches how to think logically and efficiently, learning to select the ‘best’ choice from a large number of options
• Challenges gifted children while potentially helping underachieving gifted students learn how to study and strive for excellence
• Demonstrates the importance of flexible planning, concentration, and the consequences of decisions
• Reaches boys and girls regardless of their natural abilities or socio-economic backgrounds.
In his paper, Dauvergne says, “Given these educational benefits, the author concludes that chess is one of the most
effective teaching tools to prepare children for a world increasingly swamped by information and ever tougher decisions.”
Reading specialist, Yvonne Graham, says, “While playing chess, help your student become aware of his or her own attention span and practice ways to increase it incrementally. Let the student know that the intense focus required for chess can be practiced and used to learn other skills as well.”
To get started, check out ChessKid, a free online program that uses videos and puzzles to teach kids chess basics. Kids can play with other kids around the world. Coaches can access tools to manage their chess clubs and organize tournaments.
In his article, How to teach your kids the basics of chess, blogger Kenney Myers offers 9 basic steps to introduce students to the game. They are:
- Get to Know the Pieces
- Learn the Objective
- Play with the Pawns
- Add the Knights
- Learn the Bishops
- Add the Rooks
- Present the King
- Meet the Queen