Chess and Life Skills
Carla Douglas’s students are learning that chess and life skills go hand in hand. Douglas is part of growing number of educators who have discovered the value of chess as a teaching tool. Like many teachers across the country, she uses chess as the vehicle to introduce and reinforce academic and 21st Century skills. As a result, her students learn more than just how to checkmate the opposing king.
Douglas’ PE classes at the primary school in Eufaula, Alabama, offer the opportunity to teach chess during the school day. She values the game for what it offers her students. “I use chess to broaden the students’ cognitive abilities and problem-solving capacity.” A chess puzzle sparks a collaborative conversation among the students and the teacher. Other curriculum classes expect this type of collaboration among students. In addition, businesses look for this skill in prospective employees.
Chess also provides the platform to link chess and critical life skills.  “I motivate them to win and teach them how to deal with defeat. This is an important lesson, and it should be taught at a young age,” Douglas observes. Coping with emotions like defeat builds the kind of social-emotional learning needed for success beyond the classroom.
Because of the improvement she has observed in her own students, Carla Douglas encourages other teachers to consider adding chess activities into their schedule. “I know the gains chess would bring if a classroom teacher used it in their daily curriculum.”
Want to know more about chess and life skills? The Chess in Education coalition advances the use of chess as an educational tool. Visit the website. Sign up for the monthly newsletter. Contact a coalition member for additional information about starting a chess initiative in your school.
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