What well-known board game nurtures strategic and higher-order thinking in children? The answer: Chess.
The Susan Polgar Foundation excel through chess has found that “When youngsters play chess they must call upon higher-order thinking skills, analyze actions and consequences, and visualize future possibilities.” Now, these are benefits that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but rather embraced.
In this Geordie’s classroom we’re embarking on a battlefield of strategy, capture, concentration, analysis, decision-making and competition.
Where to start? By engaging students, by comparing a game of chess to something they do in their everyday home. “How do you get out of doing the washing up?” I ask. “Pretend I’m ill,” shares a student laughing, “take my time to eat my tea,” suggests another, “pretend I didn’t hear my mum,” says another, “pardon,” I reply, pretending not to hear. What do they all have in common? Strategies, all ways to avoid doing something they don’t want to do. Well, we’re employing this ability to strategise, by using it with the long-term goal of capturing kings.
We’re starting our journey by learning how to use the usually underrated power of the pawn, well all pawns. It’s a basic game of pawn versus pawn, that enables students to learn how to use the pawns, and to use them strategically. The aim of the game is to get a pawn to the opposing end without being captured. As in the real game the pawns are set up on the board, move the same, and capture the enemy the same way. Let the battle commence!