Chess adds up for Idaho schools

The first time that my teaching-degreed, homeschooling wife explained how games related to education, I felt amazed.

The conversation started when she mentioned the educational value of two board games that the kids enjoyed playing. I recognized broad educational value in them (critical thinking, strategy, and planning). She agreed that they built those values, but then she put on her “teacher” hat and started rattling off over twenty other specifics — things like sequencing, pattern matching, counting, following instructions, taking turns, and goodness only knows what else. Who knew games could do so much? And why didn’t I know about this?

Fast-forward to today, when the state of Idaho rolled out a program to boost math scores by teaching chess to second and third graders. After teaching chess for two years in a pair of Fort Wayne elementary schools (one for grades K-2, the other for grades 3-5), I saw first-hand how the game helped kids progress. Over the course of the two years, their thinking sharpened and they demonstrated more confidence.

Best of all, the parents told me how they started learning chess and spending more time with their kids because their kids wanted to play chess at home. Talk about a great accidental benefit!

If we parents would turn off the TV, shut down the cell phone, and get our noses out of the computer for just 15 minutes each day, we can impact our kids’ lives in tremendous ways. It costs nothing but time, and only requires the decision to make it happen. Try it with your kids today.


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