Chess in the Classroom

Idaho is piloting a unique program where its 40,000 second and third graders learn the game of chess as part of curriculum enhancement that includes vocabulary, math, and history. The curriculum was designed by Seattle-based America's Foundation for Chess, a non-profit organization that promotes teaching chess in schools.

Chess is taught to students by their classroom teachers, many of whom have never played chess before. The teachers are trained in a seminar before the start of school, are provided with an instructional DVD and DVD player, chess sets and boards, and a manual. Most importantly, they are also given a collection of online resources and access, again oftentimes online since there are many rural communities in Idaho, to an experienced chess player.

The program is beneficial to students who spend much of their time plugged into electronic devices and insular. Chess also teaches students how to think and plan ahead, a skill that departs from traditional rote memorization. Additionally, students with whom English is not a first language benefit from the connections that occur at the chess board.


lastjohnny said…

My son's school offers chess as an after-school program. Two days each week, he and several other kids in 1st and 2nd grade play chess with a retired gentleman who volunteers. The amazing thing is how quickly the kids understand the rules of the game and basic strategy. From what I have seen, most kids don't think beyond one move ahead of their current move. Maybe that will change in the next few weeks. But it really is amazing watching 5 and 6 year olds play chess!

I hope more schools offer it because I think that it fosters strategic thinking and decision-making. Oh, and it's fun!

Josh Burker said…
Matt, that's awesome! My school has a huge after-school chess program that attracts kids in grades K-5. It's amazing to watch some of these kids play chess at recess, whether it is on physical boards or on the computers in the library.

I didn't start playing chess until I was in college; I wish I had started earlier!