Kids playing chessEuropean Parliament Ministers have recently voted to include chess in the educational curriculum.

As a result there has been a continuous movement of countries following to include chess as part of their weekly curriculum. Currently the UK, France, Italy, Armenia, Hungary, Greece and Canada have all made the commitment and reaping the results. They are starting early, Grade 1 with at least one hour of chess a week, three is ideal.

Why? Simply put, they are dedicated to expanding the minds of children and giving them the best possible education. And it all starts with chess.

Basically chess trains the brain. Chess has proven time and time again to be more effective than most other educational programs. Chess is not just about a game, and kings and queens it is much more than that. It’s about concentration, quadrants, co-ordinates, strategy, foreseeing consequences, angles, options and decisions, winning and losing.  Chess is about patience.

It teaches children how to make decisions, trains memory, strengthens will power (kids certainly need this), motivates children to win and teaches them how to deal with defeat (they need this one too). It’s really the only school subject that can do all of that.

One of the greatest players of all time, Judit Polgar has designed her own educational chess program catering specifically to squeezing chess into a already full curriculum and what a novel way she had done so, she has redesigned the chessboard itself to look like a castle ‘Chess Palace’ and the pieces – the characters move from the bottom level to the top of the castle. Judit has designed manuals ‘how to’ for teachers. This is just the start of a range of newly designed chess materials aimed at teaching young children in a fun way.

As a result of the European Parliament voting to include chess, the UK parliament is now on board too. The research is there that shows the dramatic improvement in student’s concentration, their maths skills and their reading scores all improve considerably. All that’s needed now is the Australian Government to get on board and include chess as a compulsory part of our education curriculum.

Hopefully some progressive, forwarding thinking schools will take the initiative and leap into the world of chess and take it from an extra-curricular activity and place it into the classrooms for everybody. Any such school will certainly be a step ahead of their time but I’ve no doubt in many years to come Chess will be part of our education it may just take a while unfortunately. In the meantime parents, don’t let your children miss out, dust off the chess board – download an app and get started.

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