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17 Jan

The Chess Lady and First Move Take Chess into the Classroom to Engage, Inspire, and Educate

America’s Foundation for Chess’ Educational Program Expanding to More Schools
Nationwide in 2011

BELLEVUE, WA, January 17, 2011 – Move over lunch lady….The Chess Lady is making her move to classrooms nationwide. Chess is now inspiring second and third grade students around the country thanks to an innovative program from America’s Foundation for Chess:  First MoveTM. This award-winning program introduces chess – with the help of an unexpected classroom celebrity, The Chess Lady – as a learning tool to teach critical thinking skills, improve math, reading, behavioral and social skills, and build self-esteem and confidence in students. In 2010, First Move celebrated its 10th anniversary by engaging more than 50,000 students in nearly 2000 classrooms across 27 states. In 2011, America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) plans to expand the program to an additional 30,000 students nationwide.

“In nearly 30 nations around the world, chess is integrated into the country’s scholastic curriculum,” says Wendi Fischer, AF4C Executive Director and “The Chess Lady.”  “In the U.S., despite numerous studies that demonstrate the impact chess education can have on cognitive and critical thinking skills, chess is rarely incorporated into American schools. Our goal with First Move is to bring positive change to our educational system and make chess a regular part of every child’s classroom experience.”

AF4C created First Move to seamlessly introduce chess as a learning tool in second and third grade classrooms to support the existing academic and social programs. The curriculum is specifically mapped to standards for second and third grade. Not only are the students benefitting from the critical thinking, group problem solving, and social interaction, but they’re also having fun. They play to learn, not to win, so they transfer the intellectual, social and emotional qualities from the game of chess to school and real world success.

“Students tend to be tentative and want someone else to do their work for them, give them the answer, or figure it out for them,” says Jill Massa, Principal, Warden Elementary School (Warden, WA). “But with the chess games that they play as part of First Move, they are forced to think for themselves in a fun way which builds their confidence.

According to a study conducted by Education Northwest in 2009, more than half of First Move parents found learning chess helped improve their child’s grades and more than 62% credited the chess education program with improving their child’s attitude toward school.

First Move began in 2000 and was introduced to its first classrooms in the Seattle area a few years later. It has grown and is primarily supported through individual and corporate donations, with a nominal fee for participating classrooms or school districts. First Move is offered during the school day as a supplemental curriculum to the existing core curriculum. Teachers do not need to know chess; they can learn along with their students as The Chess Lady introduces the game step-by-step via interactive videos. The focus is not on competition or tournament play, but rather on the thinking skills that are an inherent part of chess. First Move promotes courtesy toward others; students learn to shake hands before and after a game, respect rules and think ahead.

About America’s Foundation for Chess:

Based in Bellevue, Washington, America’s Foundation for Chess is a non-profit 501c(3) organization which developed First Move™ to introduce chess as a learning tool. Kids see chess as a game and do not realize the powerful learning that goes on while they play. As a result of First Move, teachers often see students grasp math concepts faster, as well as demonstrate an increase in reading comprehension.  The program is currently in 27 states, and in fall of 2010 was introduced to 29 classrooms in Antigua.

Schools interested in integrating First Move into their curriculum can call 1-866-973-2342. To become a donor, visithttp://www.af4c.org/pages/donors.

For more information about First Move and AF4C, visit their website, www.af4c.org or find them on Facebook.

 

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