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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.

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Easter Ideas for Kids during COVID-19

Easter ideas for kids during COVID-19.

Many families have traditions for Easter that include fun community activities like egg hunts, visits to the Easter bunny or a special dinner out. With stay-at-home restrictions still in effect, the holiday is going to look very different this year. Here are some alternative Easter ideas for kids to still enjoy the weekend.

Easter Sunday Brunch for Kids

Start the day with a special breakfast or Easter brunch as a family. Before the happy chaos of baskets begins, serve up one of these too-cute recipes for Easter breakfast that not only will your kids love – but they can help make too. Our friends over at SheKnows have compiled a list of 15 Cute Easter Breakfast Ideas.

Alternative Easter Egg Hunts for kids

Even if the neighborhood or community Easter egg hunts are canceled, enjoy an egg hunt at your house. Fill plastic eggs with special treats or rewards. Extra screen time or picking the family movie are great alternatives to a midday sugar crash.

Easter Egg Hunt alternatives during social distancing

Or, get your neighbors to join you for a virtual Easter Egg Hunt. Paint, draw or display eggs that can seen from the sidewalk. Most importantly, spread positivity and enjoyment while practicing safe social distancing. Get the word out by posting on your community NextDoor or create a private Facebook group. Try some on-demand Easter activities, use colorful window paint or even draw eggs outside with sidewalk chalk.

Virtual Easter Meetings

After the excitement of Easter brunch and egg hunts, check in with friends and family virtually. Set up a family Zoom call or Facetime the grandparents. If your Easter tradition usually includes church, find a live stream service to watch together at home. If you had already picked out the perfect Easter outfit, don’t let it go to waste! Get dressed up and then take pictures for the scrapbook.

Easter Entertainment for Kids

To finish up your Easter during COVID-19, queue up an Easter-themed movie for your kids on Netflix, Hulu or Disney+. Some of our Easter family movie favorites include:

  • Hop
  • Rise of the Guardians
  • Peter Rabbit
  • Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade

Take a Break for Spring

After a fun-filled Easter weekend with crafts, treats and egg hunts you may want a few minutes for yourself. ActivityHero has live, interactive classes every day for kids of all ages. Schedule an online class with expert teachers in art, music, LEGO® building, sports, coding and more.