Categories
After-School Activities Chess Mindfulness Online Learning

5 Fun Facts About American Chess Day

Join millions of chess fans in their love for the world’s most popular board game to celebrate American Chess Day on September 1st!

Chess tournaments, clubs, and classes continue to attract devoted members of the chess community. Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, there’s something for everyone.

Chess is one of the most ancient, intellectual and cultural games, with a combination of sport, scientific thinking and elements of art. As an affordable and inclusive activity, it can be exercised anywhere and played by all, across the barriers of language, age, gender, physical ability or social status.1

  1. 2020 was a huge year for chess.

While people were staying at home during the pandemic, chess was the perfect way to connect with others online. Chess enthusiasm in the US spiked even more with the release of the incredibly popular Netflix Series, The Queen’s Gambit

With no in-person events to attend, chess masters streamed themselves playing chess. Online chess platforms were overwhelmed with new players. The number of games played on online in 2020 were up 66% from pre-pandemic times.2 

  1. Computers are now better than people at chess. 

In the late 1980s, computers became capable of beating strong chess players.  In 1988, the computer Deep Thought became the first computer to defeat a grandmaster in a tournament game.3 Now, even the world champion doesn’t stand a chance against the leading computer. 

  1. All schoolchildren learn chess in Armenia. 

Starting from 2011, chess was taught as a school subject just like reading or math in Armenian schools. It’s the first country in the world to include chess as a subject in primary schools. With all the benefits that chess has for kids—creative thinking, spatial reasoning, and concentration—it’s no wonder that this country has made chess a compulsory class for everyone. 

  1. There are over 2,000 variations of chess. 

Most believe that chess began over 1400 years ago in India.4 However, as it’s spread across the world, games like Chinese chess and Japanese chess have evolved to become popular games as well. Today, international chess is standardized by the International Chess Federation, which was started in 1924. 

  1. Ben Franklin loved chess! 

You can thank founding father Ben Franklin for American Chess Day. Although the United States Chess Federation started in 1939, Ben Franklin was an avid chess player and even published an essay about the benefits of chess in 1786. 

Celebrate American Chess Day by joining a community of chess players, whether you’re just beginning or an experienced player.

Find kid-approved chess classes and camps on ActivityHero>>

Source1

Source2

Source3

Source4

Categories
Academic Writing Academics Basketball Chess Creative Arts Creative Writing Lego Martial Arts Parenting Resources Schools Sports Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms Tutoring

3 Back to School Pain Points with Solutions

(Pandemic Edition)

As we all continue to adjust to an ever-evolving new normal, surviving a back to school season in the time of a pandemic, remains challenging.

From experiencing unexpected school quarantines (e.g. a student in your kid’s class tests positive for COVID-19) to being waitlisted for after school extended care and all the driving around for drop-offs and pickups, here’s how three moms at ActivityHero are managing the chaos.

1. Hacking (Unexpected) School Closures

Meet Kathrine: Mom to a Kindergartener (Los Angeles)

We were so excited to go in-person to the ‘big’ school this year. Just a few days in, school communicated that a child in my Kindergartener’s class tested positive for COVID-19, so the classroom was going to shut down for 10 days. My daughter was sent home with a computer for virtual instruction along with packets of information and materials for next two week’s instruction.

Solution: Register for last-minute online camps with classmates to squeeze in some virtual play dates.  

Distance learning was scheduled for 9-11 am daily. With half the day still remaining, we found online classes to help with the afternoon so she wasn’t parked in front of the TV for all of that time. She really enjoys Minecraft and Roblox so finding social clubs or easy 45~min classes to support her favorite interests was easy. To help support some physical activity, we did also add an online Ballet class.

2. Mind the After School Gap

Meet Tabetha: Mom to a 3rd Grader (San Francisco)

After months of distance and hybrid learning, having school for a 6 hour block of time has been an amazing improvement. We were hopeful at first, then officially waitlisted for after school extended care to get us through to 6pm. As a household with two full-time working parents the 3pm pickup is challenging. With the luxury of school facilitated enrichment programs like Chess and Basketball (and this coveted time for when homework could be done with an on-site tutor) missing this year, panic-mode started to settle in. And then we chatted with some of my son’s friends and realized we could do online classes.

Solution: Find online extracurriculars for your kids so you can attend a meeting and make dinner. It’s a win, win situation for everyone.

Fun classes where learning looks like play is our usual approach for extracurricular activities so our son’s hobbies helped with the selection process. LEGO and Pokemon are his current favorites. Even better, the themed classes we found are actually great for problem solving, building and creativity. Dancing to burn off energy is also a must. Different than last year, only having a small window of online classes has been much more manageable. 

3. Less Driving = More Learning

Meet Kristen: Mom to a 7th Grader & 11th Grader (Sacramento)

We couldn’t wait for in-person school to start this year. For my 7th grader, this meant going to a new school. With two kids at two different schools and two different sets of activities, we didn’t realize all the added back and forth driving until it was happening. 
Beyond the everyday drive to and from school, I now have to make a 3rd and 4th trip, 4 days a week for sports. This is in addition to the same daily drop off to and from school at a separate campus and several evening practices for club sports at least an hour each way. Today, we spent over 4 hours in the car driving back and forth and didn’t get home until after 9pm. The boys had to do their homework in the car and I won’t even mention what they had for dinner.

Solution: Fuel kids’ brains with fun online classes to minimize time spent in the car.

We never thought we’d say this, but we were missing online classes and virtual sports. (We saved so much time and gas last year!) To help offset the in-person activities, we decided to go back and add online classes into our weekend schedule. Online Drawing and Art classes have become our time together to connect as a family. The kids are also now signed up for virtual Martial Arts and Coding classes. All of which can happen in the comfort of our home.  

Find your back to school solution! Create an account and profile for your kid to find even more personalized classes and camps at ActivityHero.

Categories
Chess

9 Reasons Chess Classes Are a Smart Move

Sure, chess is a great brain-booster for type-A kids, but did you know it’s also perfect for children who struggle to focus in school or organize their homework? Here, a seasoned chess coach explains why every child can enjoy many brain-boosting, skill-enhancing benefits when learning this “Game of Kings.”

By Rachel Stamper

Chess camps, chess clubs and chess classes are the perfect way to introduce your child to the “Game of Kings.” While experts disagree on the optimal age to begin chess — some say as early as kindergarten, while others recommend starting at second grade — all concur that chess offers incredible benefits to boost the developing brains of children of all ages.

My son, now nearly 13 and in 7th grade, participated in after-school chess club throughout elementary school, and the skills he learned in chess continue to benefit him both socially and academically. “I don’t like sports, but do like competition,” he says. A variation called “bughouse chess” was his favorite, because it’s a team chess game. “Plus I’ve got a shelf full of chess trophies!”

I chatted with Coach Brett Ramirez of The Chess Club about these and other benefits of enrolling a child in a chess program. He offers the following insight, gained from his more than 20 years’ experience coaching chess for elementary through high school kids.

#1 Chess Encourages Focus

Learning and playing chess teaches children the benefits of careful observation and concentration If the student doesn’t watch what’s happening, they can’t respond to it, no matter how smart they are.

#2 Chess Teaches Visualization

We prompt children to imagine a sequence of actions before it happens. This strengthens their ability to visualize by training them to shift the pieces in their mind several moves ahead to predict outcomes.

#3 Chess Trains Thoughtfulness

Children are taught to think, then act. We teach them to ask, “If I do this, what might happen as a result and how can I respond?” Over time, chess helps kids develop patience and learn to think ahead.

#4 Chess Inspires Critical Thinking

We teach students that they don’t have to do the first thing that pops into their mind. They learn to identify and weigh options and consider the pros and cons of various alternatives before they act.

#5 Chess Instills Analysis and Logic

Children learn to evaluate results of a series of actions and outcomes. They ask themselves, “Does this sequence help me or hurt me?” This way, they see that better decisions come from logic, rather than impulse.

#6 Chess Guides Abstract Thinking

We teach kids how to step back from details periodically and consider the bigger picture. They also learn to transfer patterns used in one context and apply them to different, but related situations.

#7 Chess Supports Planning

Children are shown how to develop longer-range goals and take steps towards accomplishing these goals. They are also taught how to reevaluate their plans on the fly as new developments change the scenario.

Photo Credit: The Chess Club - San Jose, CA
Photo Credit: The Chess Club – San Jose, CA

#8 Chess Inspires Multiple Lines of Thought

We encourage students not to become overly absorbed in any one consideration, but to try to weigh various factors all at once. Simultaneous juggling of multiple considerations is a skill that can be learned early.

#9 Chess Spurs Socialization

In schools, chess serves as a bridge, bringing together children of different ages, races and genders. Chess helps build individual friendships, camaraderie, healthy competition and sportsmanship.

Coach Brett adds, “The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children’s minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers and more independent decision makers.”

Now It’s Your Move!

Find an online chess class or club  and introduce your kids to the great game of chess.