Chess: A Sport For Academic Success
Interested in motivating your students to higher achievement with limited resources? Improving tests scores through fun, friendly games? Decreasing discipline problems? Here’s one solution: start a Chess Program at your school.
From rural Texas to New York City, Chess-in-the-Schools Programs are leading to successful outcomes in the classroom. How are students from predominately low-income areas able to compete successfully against the best and brightest across the nation?
“Chess helps children build skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become better at critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. To start a chess program in a school, all you need is one motivated teacher,” says chess consultant Victor Bailey.
Since 1998, Mississippi Gulf Coast native Victor Bailey has been involved in a highly successful chess program in the Texas Rio Grande Valley School District. A University of Southern Mississippi alumnus, Bailey has served as coach, director and also sponsor for many Texas school chess tournaments.
“My teams have won four state titles in various divisions. I have seen many of my students excel academically from their exposure to this sport,” said Bailey.
In an article “Why Offer Chess in Schools?” chessmaster Jerry Meyers said, “Educational Studies have been done in various locations around the United States and Canada, showing that chess results in increased scores on standardized tests for both reading and math. A study on a large-scale chess program in New York City, which involved more than 100 schools and 3,000 children, showed higher classroom grades in both English and Math for children involved in chess. Studies in Houston, Texas, and Bradford, Penn., showed chess leads to higher scores on the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.”
According to Meyers, chess makes kids smarter. It does so by teaching the following skills:
Focusing - Children are taught the benefits of observing carefully and concentrating. If they don’t watch what is happening, they can’t respond to it, no matter how smart they are.
Visualizing - Children are prompted to imagine a sequence of actions before it happens.
Thinking Ahead - Children are taught to think first, then act.
Weighing Options - Children learn to consider the pros and cons of various actions.
Analyzing Concretely - Children learn to evaluate the results of specific actions and sequences.
Thinking Abstractly - Children learn to take patterns used in one context and apply them to different, but related situations.
Planning - Children are taught to develop long-range goals and take steps toward bringing them about.
Juggling Multiple Considerations Simultaneously - Children are encouraged to weigh various factors all at once.
Sportsmanship- Students are required to shake hands before and after matches.
“As you can imagine, the success of our students in chess has been a great source of pride for the Rio Grande Valley schools, university and community. I believe that the state of Mississippi, too, could benefit greatly by incorporating chess into their curriculum,” said Bailey.
To learn more about starting a chess program in your school district, email Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.