To these we add five skills emphasized in our Chess Classes:
- Our classes foster teamwork and leadership skills
We emphasize teamwork and leadership through a series of challenging group exercises. Students are divided into teams to work on challenging chess puzzles, and they present their answers to the coach or to the entire class. Group leaders help keep their team focused on the task, ensuring that everyone contributes through analysis or questioning, and also that everyone on the team understands the chosen solution to their puzzle.
- Our classes promote verbal skills
We encourage lively debate about specific positions, short-term or long-term plans, opening strategy, and more. Students pick a side and pretend to be lawyers advocating for their client’s position. They are awarded points based on correctness of their analysis and the persuasiveness, creativity, and reasoning of their argument. Sometimes students will advocate on behalf of a specific piece, such as a forlorn Knight longing for greener pastures.
- Our classes enhance right-brain skills such as storytelling, empathy, and design
Coach Lior Lapid has a background in theater and enjoys teaching valuable lessons through storytelling. All PALS instructors are equipped with historical chess anecdotes that are often humorous and instructive. Many of our humorous stories are fictional too, and all impart an important lessons to the student. Children are encouraged to invent their own stories by personifying the chess pieces. Students are encouraged to be empathetic to anyone who loses a game. They shake hands and say “good game” regardless of the result. Under the coach’s supervision, the student who won makes at least one suggestion for how his/her opponent can correct mistakes for the next game. Students are also presented with chess compositions: made up positions that illustrate an artistic theme (such as Coach Lior’s composition in which one pawn takes on the entire army — and wins!). Students work individually or in teams to design their own chess compositions.
- Our classes teach mathematical skills by incorporating elements of arithmetic, algebra and geometry through chess
Our curriculum focuses on using chess as a tool to teach thinking skills. Learning piece values, notation, and geometric pattern recognition allows children to hone their math skills without even realizing it! Many of our lessons enhance methods of concrete calculation, a skill that extends across all fields of mathematics. We also play games like “detective chess” whereby students must use mathematical reasoning and pattern recognition to decipher elements of a position.
- Our classes increase classroom participation skills though a Socratic method of education
We strongly believe in using chess to teach kids how to think rather than what to think. PALS Coaches teach through a Socratic method of questions that lead children to the right conclusion without explicitly spelling it out for them. This helps children develop an internal dialogue during their own games, in which they ask and answer the key questions that will help them figure out the correct move or plan.