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Let the Games Begin

By Elizabeth Macik/ staff reporter

10/15/08 01:52 PM

On Oct. 31 Wheaton Montessori School launches its first-ever Chess tournament. Chess has always been a popular rainy day recess game. So when an expert approached the elementary teacher offering after school enrichment chess classes, the school jumped at the opportunity. Rebecca Lingo, school founder, stated “There is evidence of academic and cognitive benefits to chess. 21 of 28 students enrolled immediately, and the others are all disappointed that they have scheduling conflicts.”

Chess is one of the oldest and most challenging games. Remarkably, the game has also proven to be an invaluable educational aide and one of the latest pedagogical tools for young students. Through the game of chess, children learn analytical and disciplined thinking skills, which are applicable to many other intellectual pursuits.

Chess is also extremely beneficial in raising self-esteem, teaching determination, self-motivation, and sportsmanship. It reaches beyond backgrounds, ages, and other differences to allow anyone to play.

Dr. Stuart Margulies, a noted educational psychologist, conducted two studies of reading score changes of children. The first study was conducted with students in New York City Community School District 9, in the South Bronx, and the second study in classrooms in New York City and Los Angeles.

The results in each study were significant. Students in the chess program showed statistically significant greater gains in reading on a nationally standardized achievement test than did the control group. The chess players outperformed the average student in the country and the average student in the school district. The gains were particularly impressive among children who started with relatively low or average initial scores. Children in non-chess playing control groups showed no gain (

Chess Scholars is providing Wheaton Montessori’s professional chess instruction. Their goals are three fold. First, they want to improve chess play and develop students’ lifelong enjoyment of the game. They also want to enhance critical thinking and develop logical and analytical reasoning. And lastly, they want to increase attention spans. For more information please contact Wheaton Montessori School at 630-653-5100.

Submitted by Wheaton Montessori