Who says chess can’t be a block? I’ve never read about it on one of my homeschooling sites. Wait, let me look…nope, even my favorite site Homeschool Share doesn’t have one. You know every time I read that over I read cheese block! LOL!
Recently Isaiah has developed an interest in chess. I was never a chess player, but we have my father’s old chess set in the house. I know how the pieces move, I know how you win, but I do not know one ounce of the strategy that goes into winning. I figure that doesn’t matter much, what does matter is that he’s waking up, getting himself ready, setting up the chess set and excited to go!
So I’m liking the idea of chess as our first block of the day for a week. We are replacing movement, which I think isn’t a bad idea for this boy. He tends to be hot and cold when it comes to movement. I figure If I don’t force a circle time or movement time and instead alternate week to week we have a better chance of it not becoming a struggle. This is a way to make our first block of the day a win-win. After reading the research , I am happy to alternate movement and chess week to week.
From Johns Hopkins University “It’s not about Kings, Queens, and Rooks, but rather, quadrants and coordinates, thinking strategically and foreseeing consequences. It’s about lines and angles, weighing options and making decisions. Chess might just be the perfect teaching and learning tool.”
“Research shows, there is a strong correlation between learning to play chess and academic achievement. In 2000, a landmark study found that students who received chess instruction scored significantly higher on all measures of academic achievement, including math, spatial analysis, and non-verbal reasoning ability (Smith and Cage, 2000).
While studies have shown chess to have a positive impact on kids in elementary, middle and high school, AF4C targeted second and third graders as the evidence, and certainly our experience, suggests it’s the ideal age. Eight and nine year-old minds and thinking skills are developing rapidly, and chess teaches higher level thinking skills such as the ability to visualize, analyze, and think critically.” (read this article here)
For me the test results are not an issue. Whatever happens happens, but I can’t deny the strengthening effect that chess has on the way my son uses his mind. Without forcing him to think like an adult, or teach him formal reasoning, he is learning all of these skills passively. Just as they point out later in the article, my son originally knew how the pieces moved, but moved them without much thought. Then after a few days he began to ask, “If I move here, then you can get me right?” he would spend much more time deciding exactly which piece to move where. He still was operating more on the defensive than the offensive, but I am sure that’s coming. Funnily enough, he didn’t even seem to care who won, although it often ended in a draw. Since chess is new to me too, who knows who will be the chess champion before long?!