A new strategy to improve student achievement helps children learn chess – and it’s their move.  Kids think strategically and creatively through mastery of the classic game. 

Broward County schools plan to add chess this fall  to the second and third grade curriculum at most elementary schools.  This comes after a successful pilot program this year at three Sunrise schools.

Children Learn Chess - and It's Their Move

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Studies show chess develops critical thinking, logic, math, and science skills, officials say, and at least 30 countries require the game be taught in school. The United States leaves the decision up to local school districts, and a few have experimented with it, including some in New York and Texas.

“Broward County is about to be the front-runner in doing this,” said Marc Strauss, a district administrator. “No one has done it as largely as we’re talking about.”

The skills students use in chess move also can be used to narrow down multiple choice questions, officials say. Students have learned vocabulary words and history lessons involving the 1,500-year-old game.

Chess has given students of different backgrounds a chance to get to know each other, and it’s improved their self-esteem, said Angela Fulton, principal at Discovery Elementary.

Children Learn Chess - and It's Their Move

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“They think of chess as a smart person’s game, and I don’t know any kid who doesn’t want to be smart,” Fulton said.The curriculum is provided by the First Move, a national organization that focuses on teaching chess skills to children. The lessons – which take about an hour a week — are taught through a streaming web video, so teachers aren’t required to know how to play.

“I love chess. It brings me closer to my daddy,” said Lauren Amitirigala, 8, of Tamarac. “It improves my mood and inspires me to try harder in school.”

Her classmate at Discovery, Jaterrius Walker, 8, of Sunrise, said chess “feeds my brain and makes me smarter.”

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