The Benefits of Chess in Education

Children from all backgrounds can succeed at chess. Even children who are not performing well in school are inspired by chess and show a better attitude towards learning. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, “Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. …The brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.” At the NSCF we believe teaching chess provides both conceptual instruction and practical application that allow students to develop these skills so necessary for success in life.

Chess, one of the oldest and most intriguing of games, is a pedagogical tool for students of all ages and abilities. Through chess, students learn thinking skills which are applicable to other disciplines.

Benefits from learning chess

    • Chess improves concentration and self-discipline;
    • Chess involves all levels of critical thinking (knowledge, comprehension, analysis, evaluation);
    • Chess requires forethought and circumspection;
    • Chess cultivates visualization;
    • Chess develops problem solving skills;
    • Chess encourages children to overcome the fear of risk-taking;
    • Chess teaches children to assume responsibility for their decisions;
    • Chess encourages socialization skills that extend across cultures and generations;
    • Chess raises self-esteem and promotes good sportsmanship; and
    • Chess rewards determination and perseverance;
    • Chess is fun!

Adding to this list, the NSCF endorses the statement of Dr. Robert Ferguson that chess provides the necessary 4th “R” in education – reasoning.

Chess in Education Research

Over many decades, researchers have studied how learning chess can positively impact education. From improvement in reading and math scores to critical and creative thinking assessments, as well as helping with special needs, chess has been proven as an effective pedagogical tool for students of all ages and abilities.

In 1995, for a conference convened at the Borough of Manhattan Community Colleges (BMCC), Dr. Robert Ferguson compiled this summary of studies that reviewed work going back to the early 1970s: Chess in Education Research Summary. More recently, in 2014 our friends at St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center funded a Literature Review of Chess Studies.