“Why are you teaching chess to my child? Aren’t there more important things they should be learning?” How do you answer? How do you convince decision-makers that chess can be a valuable part of their child’s education? Use these questions as an opportunity to build family support for your chess in education program.
Follow these four tips and turn your parents and other family members into advocates for your program.
Demonstrate what your students are learning. Schedule regular Family Night activities. Allow students to prepare chess puzzles or other chess-related activities that showcase their knowledge. Even a beginning player can share how the Rook moves from one side of the board to the other and explain how this illustrates vocabulary such as vertical and horizontal.
Explain why these skills are important. Highlight the skills that family members know are important both in the classroom and at home. These might include decision-making, literacy, or math skills. Have students complete activities on paper or online that illustrate these skill connections and then post them on the bulletin board or in the hallway. Share how these skills connect to the required standards. Send samples home for students to show family.
Teach family members how to play chess so they can interact with your students at home. Have students teach family in a series of stations around the room. This “chess carousel walk” is a great way to allow students to become teachers and show off their skills. After the walk is completed, students can play chess mini games (such as 2 Knights vs. 8 pawns) against family or alongside their family vs. other student/family teams.
Gather quotes from parents to use in newsletters and on bulletin-boards. When you build family support, you give evidence to education decision-makers. Quotes from students – what they like about chess, how chess helps them – also make a difference.
Following these tips can make the difference when it comes time for funding, offering professional development, or even determining whether the program will continue to exist.
Do you have other tips to offer? Share them! Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.