Why Chess Should Be a Part of Every Child’s Education

chessThe following guest post is by Laura Sherman. Ms. Sherman wrote Chess Is Child’s Play with Bill Kilpatrick. Chess Is Child’s Play teaches any parent, of any skill level, to teach any child, of any age, to play chess. This book will be released April, 2012. www.laurasherman.com/books.

Imagine a world where people all have excellent problem solving skills, where they are patient and respectful of each other on a daily basis.  A society where citizens live for the future and plan long term, thinking of where their children’s children will be, following through, seeing each goal to its conclusion with ease.  Now add to that an indefinable quality of artistic imagination, dreaming for more than can be reasonably expected, reaching beyond the status quo.

Chess can teach our next generation all these skills and more!

I learned the game when I was young and to this day I see the world as a giant chess game where any barrier can be conquered and any victory can be achieved.  No goal is impossible and when I have a target in sight there is no stopping me.  The same glint I had in my eye when I faced an opponent at a chess tournament still exists today when I face a challenge, along with the insouciant grin that comes from the pure joy of the experience.

Intuitively most would agree that chess improves a student’s grades and ability to study.  Numerous studies have been done over the years throughout the world that show this to be the case.  IQ increases, reading test results improve as do math and science scores.  However there are so many other skills children pick up naturally from learning and becoming good at chess.

Imagination is a must in chess.  You cannot form strategies and tactical plans without being able to envision your goals.  It is impossible to win a game without first imagining the victory.  You are the one to make the pieces dance to the rhythm you choose.  Without the player the pieces just sit dormant on a dusty board.

A child’s self confidence soars as the victories pile up, especially when that child can routinely trounce adults.  Allow that child to teach other children or perhaps even the adults and he or she will master the game quickly.  Nothing helps someone learn faster than teaching others and nothing does more for one’s pride than to see someone improve under one’s tutelage.

In order to achieve a victory one must consistently play well throughout the game.  You can make forty excellent moves and one thoughtless blunder and lose the game instantly.  As a result you quickly learn to be thorough in your analysis and patient with your moves.  Imagine if we all applied this little lesson to our daily lives.  Thoughtless comments, heat of the moment bursts of anger, crimes of passion might just become things of the past to be studied as a part of a history lesson.

If every parent initiated regular family chess nights and if every school taught chess as part of their daily lesson plan imagine where our country could be. 

Children naturally are drawn to chess.  If you don’t believe me try an easy experiment.  Go to an area populated with children, put out a chess set and see what happens.  I promise you they will flock to the board and become immersed in a game.  We all have the power to fuel our children’s existing passion for learning and help our next generation soar.  Let’s make a difference!






Volunteering With the Elderly: How Your Child Could Benefit From This Experience

volunteering with the elderlyOur post about volunteering with the elderly is by Amy Shoemaker, an author who writes about nursing homes and the importance of volunteering. Her website focuses on nursing home abuse and how the general public can stop this phenomenon.

Volunteering is always a great activity your family can do together to become closer, learn, and take on new experiences.

When you get your children interested in volunteering at a young age, they will be able to learn more and they will have the drive to volunteer on their own in the future. Inspiring your child to volunteer will start in your home. If your children see that you are excited about volunteering, they will be more likely to follow your example. As parents, it is our responsibility to get them started so that they will continue to be charitable throughout their lives.

Getting your children involved doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to go on a month long mission trip to South America to volunteer. Start with a weekly trip to your local nursing home. Your child’s smile could make someone’s day, and they will learn a lot more during their visits than you could imagine.

Involvement is the key to keeping children interested, and helping the elderly will do just that. Depending on the age of your children and the capabilities of the elderly you visit, there can be a wide variety of activities your family can do when volunteering.

Some of the people you visit may like gardening, but they have difficulty bending over to do some of the tasks gardening requires. By helping them, your children could learn about working hard to reach a goal and healthy eating as well. Maybe your child has just started to learn to read. You could have them read to many people at once, or one person in the nursing home could sit down with them and help them learn. The possibilities are truly endless, and you can use your child’s strengths to help them stay interested in the project and improve on their skills in the process.

Your children could especially help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Combining children and these elderly people will not only benefit the children, but the elderly as well. Research has shown that these elderly people become more interested in others, get more exercise, fall less, and feel happier and more loved after spending time with children. Their loved ones have said that they seem more engaged and less isolated. This same research showed that these children will usually have higher social development scores, fewer behavioral problems, and enhanced perceptions of older adults. Also, children who have been involved in programs with the elderly have been proven to have a better vocabulary as well as better reading skills.

You may think that you won’t have time to share these wonderful experiences with your children. When you work long hours or have many other commitments that are keeping you from volunteering, it may seem impossible to take on another task.

However, you need to remember how important your time will be for those you are helping and for your children’s future. With just a little bit of your time, you will be able to show your children how important volunteering is to the community, and you will leave each visit feeling more fulfilled.

Volunteering helps create new friendships, and it will also help you feel a purpose in your life. Your children will learn these skills while they are volunteering as well, and the experiences they have will affect the rest of their lives.


Helping a Child Become a Good Sport

being a good sportMost children need help learning to be a good sport.

Being a good sport means being a gracious winner as well as a gracious loser. Losing is no fun and many children have a hard time losing. Some even demonstrate unacceptable behaviors such as throwing things and stomping off the game area.

Being a good sport  is a life skill as well as a social skill that children need to develop early in life as it will help them in so many life situations.

According to the United States Olympic Committee’s education program of 2007  on sportsmanship, a real athlete is a good sport. In the education materials the Olympic Committee gives the following definition of what it means to be a good sport:

An athlete who is a good sport is someone whose conduct and attitude demonstrate gracious behavior before, during, and after competition.  In fact, good sportsmanship demands that nothing be done before, during, or after a game to cheapen or detract from victory.

In yesterday’s “Can Do” Kids’ blog, Coach Campbell speaks with Hector about his behavior after losing a ping pong match and explains good sportsmanship.

The following resources can help a parent, teacher or coach help a child to understand the need for good sportsmanship and the ability to develop the attitude of a good sport.

Real Athletes are Good Sports:


Kids’ Poster: “Being a good sport makes you a winner.”


Lesson Materials for Teachers from:


“Olympic Spirit,” slideshow


Source: Ned Campbell, History Teacher, Head Wrestling Coach, James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY


What’s Being Said About “Can Do” Street…

By: http://ilearntechnology.com

What it is: Can Do Street is a website that has games, lessons, and videos focused on character development for young students.  The site is membership based but does have some free content. Hector’s Being Selfish is a free video on the site that teaches students what it means to be selfish.  The cartoon is easy to understand and helps kids recognize selfishness and what it means to be a good friend.  Throughout the video, students are given the chance to interact by answering questions.

How to integrate Hector’s Being Selfish into the classroom: This videos helps children recognize selfishness and offers ways that they can be a good friend.  Character education needs to be taught, we can’t expect that all children will naturally pick it up.  Kids come from different backgrounds and differing expectations at home.  Hector’s Being Selfish is a good video to begin the school year with, and would be a great reminder mid-year.  Watch the video as a whole class and invite students to vote on their answers throughout the video.


Guest Post…Social Skills by Julie Blacker

We have all been there. Perhaps it was when you watched in horror, as a date slurped soup from the spoon that was held in a manner similar to Beast in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Maybe it was the way that a friend ordered the server around at brunch with such disdain that you knew your pancakes were going to have a little bit of the “special sauce.” Or how about the child that walked up to your table and took a French fry? Those instances might seem trite, but they all indicate the decline of social graces. Watching that child take what was not rightfully his (or hers!) without any sort of consequence demonstrates the imperative need to return social skills to modern society.

On January 12,2009, Perri Klass had an article published in The New York Times that discussed the need to instill social skills into [your] children. “Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic” made a case for teaching children manners because it is what will ensure their success later in life. Completely agreeing with the doctors’ assessment of a child in the examining room: the behavior that is displayed there is a microcosm and a precursor of what is to come…

Early childhood is the optimal time to educate young children, as their minds are like sponges. Learned behaviors become innate, so it is imperative to teach them social skills at such an impressionable stage. Enter EtiKids: the program presents a foundation of necessary life skills, which incorporate cognitive, social, emotional and physical domains. Children will use the senses of touch, smell, sight and sound to understand and manipulate their environment- a tall order for such little people. It has been working though.  Parents have reported that their children are now correcting them; ensuring that mouths are closed while chewing and “pleases and thank yous,” said.  Rest assured that these kids would not eat the French fries off of my plate! And of course their parents will ask me politely, rather than demand my assistance.

Julie Blacker is the director and owner of EtiKids, a program that teachers social skills and school skills to children in a fun and developmentally appropriate manner.  Visit www.etikids.com for more information.


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