Best Practice

Making chess clubs work at primary level

Chess club can be a successful addition to a primary school’s extra-curricular activities, but it must be approached in the proper way, and beginning with ‘mini-chess’ activities is recommended. Richard James offers some dos and don'ts...

I have been teaching chess to young children since 1972 and started helping primary schools run chess clubs in 1993.

For the past three decades there have been many claims that chess improves children’s academic performance in many ways: numeracy, literacy, problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking and much else.

It was this that encouraged many primary schools to promote chess through after-school clubs, and likewise encouraged parents to sign their children up for chess.

After a few years it became clear to me that, while most children gained a lot of enjoyment out of playing chess with their friends, the standard of play was, in most cases, so low that it was hard to see that it was really benefiting them academically.

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