March 2008 Vol. 17, No. 2
Many students in big-city school districts participate in after-school chess clubs, but for some elementary students in St. Louis chess is now a part of the daily curriculum.
First Move is a chess program which was recently introduced to second- and third-grade students at five elementary schools in St. Louis. Created by America’s Foundation for Chess, the program aims to help teachers utilize chess as a learning tool for their students. Studies have shown that by playing chess, students increase their analytical skills and gain a better understanding of math concepts.
Schools participating in the program receive a two-year supplemental curriculum guide, on-line support, a chess mentor, classroom chess sets and a 2-D chess board to hang in the classroom for demonstrations. All students receive their own chess set to take home.
In addition, teachers can participate in training programs and workshops that help connect the chess program to core subjects and learning concepts already being taught.
Teachers spend approximately one hour of class time a week for the game.
District officials believe the chess program will not only help students improve academically but also help them learn patience and good sportsmanship.
Carolyn Faulkner, a second-grade teacher, said she and her students are having a great time learning to play chess. “Most importantly, I see that chess is causing my students to think more critically.”
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