The Educational Benefits Chess
An exciting, historic game of strategy, chess has been delighting and challenging people of all ages for hundreds of years. Whether played face-to-face or on-line, chess endlessly challenges players to think ahead, plot and strategize toward that gleeful “check mate”! From after-school programs to summer camps and even in-class activities, chess has taken hold of the primary school scene. The educational benefits of chess can help kids to ramp up academic abilities for a number of reasons. In fact, chess was supposedly invented 1,500 years ago in India to teach the royal family’s children to be better strategists and stronger leaders on the battlefield. Even the image of chess has changed, moving from geeky to cool, with celebs from Knicks forward Larry Johnson to rock icon Sting celebrating prowess at the game.
Improves Memory and Concentration
There’s a lot to remember in the game of chess, starting with just how each individual piece moves, followed by standard moves and counter moves and moving on to more complex strategies leading (hopefully) to the capture of your opponent’s king. Kids need to visualize the moves in their head, leading to better visual thinking. The game requires a lot of concentration, since players must not only plan out their move, but their opponents counter move and so on. For this reason, chess can dramatically improve concentration, attention span and visual memory which are all crucial skills for academic progress.
Enhances Logic and Critical Thinking
There are endless variables in the game of chess which involves a lot of “if-then” thinking. What will happen if you make a move? What are your opponent’s options and how can you move in response? Kids learn to weigh options, plan ahead, use logic and evaluate a number of alternatives to make the best choices. They need to follow the principals of logic and not give in to impulsivity.
Surprisingly, chess has also been found to ramp up creativity. A study of middle school children showed that chess players scored significantly higher in the area of original thinking. Kids thrive on trying to come up with clever moves to try to outwit their opponent and the opportunities to improve your chess game are virtually endless. While envisioning moves and alternatives, the mind learns to “brain storm” all possibilities, a lynchpin of original thinking.
Rewards Hard Work
Playing a good game of chess is hard work. You can’t let up on your concentration at all or you’ll lose your piece, so there’s an immediate reward for staying focused. When kids intrinsically feel that hard work will be rewarded, they tend to stick more easily to academic challenges, anticipating the pay-back of good grades and success in learning more difficult concepts.
Ramps Up Math and Reading Skills
With an emphasis on complex moves and problem solving, it’s no surprise that chess-playing students benefit in the area of math skills. However, the game also enhances reading skills, and experts believe this is because both reading and chess require thinking, comprehension, analysis and decoding. With its reading and math benefits, chess can’t help but improve children’s school performance.