By Dallas Daniels, the new 4-H extension agent for Lake County.
As a Marion County teacher for the past two years, I know the stringent standards that have been set for our children. I feel that integrating chess into schools would vastly improve students’ grades, critical-thinking skills and statewide assessment scores.
I started playing in a chess club in fourth grade, and it has continued to be a part of my life ever since. My husband is a remarkable chess player and he has been teaching our oldest daughter how to play. In her time learning chess, I have noticed a vast improvement in her concentration and problem-solving skills, ultimately leading me to believe that chess could be a powerful tool in schools.
Chess in Schools and 4-H?
This belief led me to ponder the idea of the impact chess could have in schools and even the 4-H program.
Chess has roots dating back hundreds of years. It is a game that tests the mind and exercises the brain. Playing chess is similar to exercising but instead of focusing on the body, chess focuses on training the mind. It evokes rigorous activity and stamina for the brain which is necessary for academic success. In the current school system, students are held to strict standards that require higher-order thinking skills which are challenging to students. Occasionally, students have difficulty understanding the logic that applies to the concepts covered within these standards. However, I feel that a remedy for this struggle students face may lie in the implementation of chess in the school system and the 4-H Clubs.
Playing chess teaches skills that are essential for children to progress into adulthood. Starting a 4-H Chess Club would greatly benefit anyone willing to join as chess. The areas that benefit students who play chess are in concentration, problem-solving, planning, creativity and lucid thinking. In order to better support Lake County youth, I will be focusing on creating a successful 4-H chess program as the mission of 4-H is to provide a learn-by-doing approach to help youth gain the knowledge and skills they need to be responsible, productive citizens. Chess will help shape our youth to be responsible and successful citizens.
If you would be interested in hosting or joining a 4-H Chess Club feel free to contact Dallas Daniels at the Lake County extension office. The US Chess Federation can also provide more information on this ancient game of mind exercise.