First Move engages young minds and teaches critical and creative thinking skills through the game of chess. While chess can be used at any age, First Move is not a “one size fits all” program. First Move is targeted to the academic standards of 2nd and 3rd grade students. Taught one hour per week by The Chess Lady (via video), classroom teachers facilitate the exercises; no chess experience is necessary.

How it works


STEM skills; critical and creative thinking. Students learn to analyze, plan and execute.


Research and standards based, “First Move increases math and reading aptitude.”


To 2nd and 3rd grade students, helping develop cognitive thinking skills.


Students in fun, hands-on learning while connecting them to core subjects.


Intellectual self-esteem and positive social behavior.


Our Chess Lady teaches, classroom teachers facilitate, one 50 minute lesson per week.


An academic and social advantage to all kids in every sub-group.


Students for success in school, the workplace and throughout life.


* photos of us when we were each in 2nd grade.

Board Members

Senior Advisors


Q: How is First Move different from a chess club? see answer


Chess clubs have been rapidly growing in schools. They typically meet before school, after school, or during lunch. These clubs are voluntary and focus on a balance of fun and competition. Most charge a fee to cover the cost of coaching and materials. Our goal is to use chess as a learning tool in the 2nd and 3rd grade classroom to support the existing academic, social and emotional goals for their students. This goal has several ramifications.

  • All students in the classroom gain the benefits of chess.
  • In-classroom instruction involves more discussion and group problem solving.
  • Students end up playing to learn, not playing to win.
  • Students transfer the intellectual, social and emotional qualities from the game of chess to the larger world and to school success.
hide answer

Q: Why is First Move only offered in 2nd and 3rd grade? see answer



  • This is a critical time for building a strong foundation of thinking skills.
  • The curriculum is mapped to the National Standards for 2nd and 3rd graders.
  • This is a significant age for developing an attachment to school. If learning is fun, kids have a stronger attachment to school.
  • Studies have shown girls to lose interest in math and science at about 4th or 5th grade. Girls who play chess tend to stick with math and science longer.
  • In many school systems, as kids get older, being smart is not necessarily cool. In 2nd and 3rd grade, kids like to be smart; and chess has the “brand” attribute that people who play chess are smart. Kids who believe they are smart have a funny way of becoming just that.
hide answer

Q: As a teacher, I like the benefits of chess, but I don't play. How can I have First Move in my classroom? see answer


The majority of teachers do not know how to play chess when they incorporate First Move into their curriculum. Believe it or not, this is actually an advantage! The quality of our First Move curriculum and professional teacher training is at heart of our Foundations’ goals. We have developed an interactive DVD based training program with lessons and reviews that will teach you why chess is such a powerful tool, how it relates to almost every subject, how to play chess, and how to implement chess in the classroom. Every teacher is assigned an e-mentor who will send out tips and hints and answer questions that come up throughout the school year. Our Teacher Education Development Network, TEDNET, connects First Move teachers online and offers them support.

hide answer

Q: Standardized tests are a priority in my district, how does First Move address these tests? see answer


Chess will never be on a standardized test, but the thinking skills chess teaches will be tested. Chess teaches kids how to analyze and make good decisions, to think strategically and foresee consequences. In the process kids also learn good sportsmanship and patience which are not on the standardized tests either, but nice qualities to see in students.

hide answer

Q: What is the time commitment for First Move? see answer


First Move is 45-60 minutes per week.

hide answer

Q: How can we have the First Move chess program at our school? see answer


Contact First Move at 1-866-973-2342

hide answer

Q: What is the cost for First Move? see answer


Schools (or districts) pay an annual ‘subscription’ on a per classroom basis, with the remaining costs provided by AF4C fund raising efforts.

hide answer

Q: What is included in the First Move program? see answer


Teachers receive the Teacher Manual complete with two years of curriculum (lessons, worksheets and handouts, tools for assessment, DVD users guides, and optional extended activities), a demonstration board, all chess boards and sets, an interactive DVD of the curriculum, a DVD player, an assigned e-mentor, and TEDNET, our Teacher Education Development Network.

hide answer

Q: If our school has an after school chess club can we still get First Move? see answer


Absolutely. In fact, chess clubs flourish as First Move introduces all 2nd and 3rd graders to the game of chess, thereby increasing club participation by those students that want to advance their game and/or enter competition.

hide answer

Q: How can I support an individual school or classroom? see answer


Contact AF4C by email, wendi@af4c.org or phone, 425-284-3322.

hide answer

Our Supporters