Chess is widely known to promote various mental abilities and life skills, including:
- Abstract reasoning
- Improved memory
- Critical thinking
- Strategic planning
- Visualization skills
ChessEdu.org curriculum is designed to use chess as a tool for teaching these skills in a classroom setting, whether in public or private schools, another institution, or at home. Chess helps teach students how to think their way through solving complex problems, and it’s a terrific way to introduce STEM, STEAM, and Common Core criteria.
Additionally, studies show that playing chess has a positive impact on numerical and verbal aptitudes, lowers incidents of suspension and outside altercations, and decreases behavioral and discipline problems
According to Dr. Milan Vukcevich, a grandmaster of chess composition, “chess forces one to develop one’s own methodology for solving problems that can be applied throughout life. Chess makes better thinkers and should be played, not with the idea of becoming a professional player, but that chess players become doctors of sciences, engineering, and economy.”
Robert Katende, the Kampala, Uganda, chess coach featured in the book and film The Queen of Katwe, echoes this sentiment, saying, “I came to appreciate that chess is the best tool for kids in the slums. I believe when they play the game they can integrate the principles used in the game into their daily life.”
Helping Low-Income Students
Ninth grader Diezel Cable wants to be a mechanical engineer some day and believes learning chess and coding skills will help him succeed in high school and college. Every Wednesday at the City Light Home For Women, where he attends homework club, Cable plays chess with Devin Nakano, the 28-year-old entrepreneur who started the nonprofit Y STEM and Chess, which mentors low-income students in STEM.
“I saw this massive need and huge niche no one else was doing,” Nakano told multimedia specialist Andrew Reed in his article Chess Helps Low-Income Students Understand STEM Skills in Idaho Ed News.
Y STEM and Chess provides free classes in math, coding, and chess to socially and economically underserved students, including immigrants and refugees. Reed states that “the goal is to provide students with STEM skills, knowledge and opportunity and give them awareness about STEM career paths. Nakano wants these students to graduate high school with a strong math foundation along with skills in coding.”
“By increasing the number of underserved in the fields of STEM, we will help foster the robust introduction of innovative ideas, growing our economy, reducing poverty, and increasing social inclusivity,” says Nakano.
After students nail down the game of chess, Nakano teaches them the about coding and tutors them on math homework.
“I want to reduce the obstacles these students face,” he says. “It’s about showing students that anyone can do STEM.”