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Life is so interesting in so many ways. The history of chess is fascinating. The game of chess is one of those surprising tools that parents and educators are discovering around the world. In its earliest forms chess was played in India during the 6th Century. It spread and developed throughout the world from the Middle East and to Europe. It became part of the education of the Persian nobility. It reached Europe through Persia, the Byzantine Empire and Arabian Empire. Chess survived a series of prohibitions and Church sanctions as it developed in the 15th Century in Europe. It has become very popular around the world in modern times.

Years ago I started a high school program for bright, learning disabled students. One of the techniques I used was teaching them how to play chess. The reasoning behind this was some of the studies I had seen around the SOI program (the Structure of Intellect) that pointed to the possibility that "games" actually improved thinking skills memory skills dramatically. Chess, mastermind, othello, scrabble and backgammon were activities my students "played" after they got their work done.

Over the years I watched students improve dramatically at all levels. Now there is research that demonstrates that chess is definitely more than just a game for students of all ages and abilities. Research demonstrates that the educational benefits are substantial. Chess improves concentration, visual imagery, critical thinking, problem solving, abstract reasoning, pattern recognition, synthesis and evaluation (re: if I do this  THAT will happen). Chess also seems to promote imagination, creativity, independence, divergent thinking and the ability to focus better. 

Chess accommodates all modality strengths. It gives immediate feedback for moves. The American Foundation for Chess uses chess as a learning tool to teach higher level thinking skills, advanced math and reading skills and build self-esteem in students. They have designed a program that is connected to State Student Standards for 2nd and 3rd graders. This program is called "The First Move" (www.af4c.org). You can contact them and ask them to come to your school or school district. The program really looks wonderful, although I am told there is a waiting list, but well worth the wait. I would love to hear any of your thoughts or comments on chess in schools, or in your family.

Happy Weekend All,

Patricia

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