The 7 brilliant benefits of teaching chess in primary schools

Chess is becoming increasingly popular in schools. Nine out of ten private schools promote it in some way, and state schools are beginning to cotton on to the benefits. A recent report in The Guardian indicates that chess has taken off as a way to lure pupils away from their phones, and improve concentration levels in the classroom. Park End Primary School in Middlesbrough is one of 800 primary schools to add chess to its curriculum and it is having some surprisingly great benefits.

Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a charity which aims to improve children’s educational outcomes and foster their social development by introducing them to the game of chess. A recent meta-study carried out by the Educational Research review found that chess instruction does have a positive influence on both academic and cognitive abilities.

Here are just some of the benefits of teaching chess to our primary children:

1 – Playing chess encourages a digital detox

Kids live in a world of screens. Our classrooms are filled with electronic devices, smart screens and interactive whiteboards. Chess creates the perfect opportunity to unplug from all of those devices.

2 – Chess improves attention span and increases the ability to focus

When playing chess you have to stay focused at all times, otherwise your opponent will make a move to punish you. Continued practice at the game of chess improves attention span too.

3 – Chess tournaments boost children’s esteem

Winning a game is a great confidence boost, and learning a new skill is a definite boost to any child’s self-esteem. Even losing has a positive influence giving children the grace to accept defeat and the tenacity and grit to try again.

4 – Critical thinking

Chess is a quite complicated game involving a great deal of critical thinking. The ability to solve a problem is a skill needed in all subjects and in daily life. It is in fact the number one skill that employers look out for in the adult world. Conceptualising, analysing and evaluating a game plan in chess helps to improve the life skills of observation and reflection, and draw reasonable conclusions.

5 – Reasoning and planning ahead

The game of chess involves the ability to develop a strategy. It requires planning and logic. Children have to think one step ahead when playing chess and that’s a great skill to learn at such a young age. Chess also teaches children to reflect on the consequences of their actions.

6 – Chess is a universal game with no barriers

There are no boundaries to play chess. Whatever your faith, age, gender or ethnicity, and whether or not you are disabled, chess provides a level playing field for all. School sports day is a nemesis for those children who loathe sports. Chess gives your non-sporty children an opportunity to shine.

7 – Confidence in decision-making

It’s up to the player to lead his or her chess pieces to the best possible outcome. The game of chess relies on constant responsible decision-making. Poor decisions result in pieces being captured, and ultimately loss of the game. Playing chess kids learn how to make tough decisions without the help of an adult.

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