According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, "Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses. When children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits. These skills are crucial for learning and development. They also enable positive behavior and allow us to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families." At the NSCF we believe teaching chess provides both conceptual instruction and practical application that allow students to develop these skills so necessary for success in life.

Chess, one of the oldest and most intriguing of games, is a pedagogical tool for students of all ages and abilities. Through chess, students learn thinking skills which are applicable to other disciplines.

  • Chess improves concentration and self-discipline;
  • Chess involves all levels of critical thinking (knowledge, comprehension, analysis, evaluation);
  • Chess requires forethought and circumspection;
  • Chess cultivates visualization;
  • Chess develops problem solving skills;
  • Chess encourages children to overcome the fear of risk-taking;
  • Chess teaches children to assume responsibility for their decisions;
  • Chess encourages socialization skills that extend across cultures and generations;
  • Chess raises self-esteem and promotes good sportsmanship;
  • Chess rewards determination and perseverance;
  • Chess is fun!

Adding to this list, the NSCF endorses the statement of Dr. Robert Ferguson that chess provides the necessary 4th "R" in education - reasoning.

Children from all backgrounds can succeed at chess. Even children who are not performing well in school are inspired by chess and show a better attitude towards learning.

For more on this subject, see the Chess in Education Research Summary
by Dr. Robert Ferguson. 

Recommended books for beginning players.

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