Dear Lower 1st Parents
I am the JCS Chess Club Manager for 2015 and I just wanted to reach out to you to let you know a bit about the Club and especially how the Beginner Chess Classes run.
I have 3 kids currently at the school, Sebastian in Year 6, Kai in year 5 and Heidi in 2nd class. Back in 2009 when Sebastian started in L1st I thought he would have enough on his plate in Lower 1st with adjusting to school and learning to read and write and so promised him he could start Chess in the following year – which he did, but – no surprise, number 2 and 3 I handled a little differently and they both started in Lower 1st.
The Beginner Class is run on a Wednesday at recess – so just about 20mins – not too taxing for short attention spans. The kids line up at top house and one of the young interns walks them to Chess with their recess in their hands. This year it is a very short distance to Chess class, which is in John Colet House 1 (right next door to the Hall). The Chess Master – Miro will be waiting for them there. Miro has a very long association with John Colet and is very accustomed to teaching to all ages and levels. And no, it is not necessary for you to be able to play chess. I’ve seen kids playing chess at After School Care and in the back of their classes during free school time. They will get enough exposure.
In the beginning they are mainly getting familiar with the pieces, what their names are, how the board is set up, how they move and how much their pieces are worth. As soon as practical the class is split into the theoretical portion and a game portion (quite funny to witness in the beginning). You would be surprised to see how attentive the children are and how quickly they catch on.
Learning the game of chess itself has been shown to have many advantages, for children and adults. And as with many things, learning from a young age can make the process a lot easier.
Why play Chess?
· A study by Dr Peter Dauvergne of the University of Sydney has shown that teaching chess to children can:
· Raise their intelligence quotient (IQ) scores
· Strengthen problem solving skills, teaching how to make difficult and abstract decisions independently
· Enhance reading, memory, language, and mathematical abilities
· Foster critical, creative, and original thinking
· Provide practice at making accurate and fast decisions under time pressure, a skill that can help improve exam scores at school
· Teach how to think logically and efficiently, learning to select the ‘best’ choice from a large number of options
· Challenge gifted children while potentially helping underachieving gifted students to learn how to study and strive for excellence
· Demonstrate the importance of flexible planning, concentration and the consequences of decisions
· Reach boys and girls regardless of their natural abilities or socio-economic backgrounds.
I would just say, that it may do all of those things, but that what I have been impressed with in my observation of the classes at all levels is the playful camaraderie and joy in the classroom, and the amazing sense of achievement that the children feel as they progress. To see the children at the competitions both at our school and at others, is truly inspiring. To see the Mona Vale Public School Hall – which is HUGE, full of kids shaking hands, sitting and concentrating, employing chess etiquette and generally getting a kick out of the total experience is just a wonderful reminder of what children are capable of if they are only given the right opportunities.
In this age where the temptation of screen time is so strong, I will confess that I make chess the exception to what can be some strict rules. My kids are allowed to play chess at home against the computer on Chesskid.com. My 6 year old will play the DinoChess App or Chess-wise App on devices, while in waiting rooms etc. And my older boys will take the chess set out to restaurants with us and play with us on holidays. I try to make a rule that if they ask me to play chess with them to always says yes.
The Fee for lessons is $5/lesson. There will be more information about how to make payments in upcoming newsletters. If you would like to read more about the Chess Club there are some historical Blog entries on the school’s website.
If you are thinking of enrolling your children for Beginner Chess Class in Term 1 can you please let me know, so that Miro and I can plan accordingly. If you definitely don’t want your child to attend than you might want to make that clear to them and their teacher, as they can sometimes tend to just follow the others – especially if their friends are heading that way. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me of give me a call or email me on the below email address.
Yours in Chess,