Chess and Reading? It sounds like a far fetched connection but it's actually true. Research has shown that learning chess in a systematic way helps build visual processing skills that then help kids learn to read too. From an Occupational Therapy perspective, yes it makes a ton of sense. Many of the visual perception training exercises that we use for children with dyslexia and other reading challenges are similar to the ones used in chess training that teach children to see patterns, diagonal and teach them visual planning. In chess kids learn the names of each square on a chess board (a1, a2, c1 etc.) and those help them practice scanning a space with their eyes, as they think about the way their piece is going to move. Skills that transfer back to reading as they need to track the words in line. As a homeschooling mom, I've seen the benefit too in my own child.
The best part about this is that Chess not only helps reading, but it helps grow skills in a range of other areas. It helps them practice logical thinking and problem solving- which is helpful with math and advanced science, but also so important for life. Chess teaches kids to not give up when they suffer a loss, but to keep going all the way till the game is over. It helps kids learn that we win some, and we lose some, but we don't stop playing. It teaches kids to fight fair, without getting angry, or violent.
I'm a big advocate for Chess and highly recommend it for kids. My son does his training with an awesome Chess school, Emmanuel Chess Centre, which is also run by my uncle who's a chess researcher and an international chess player. They have online classes too. We also love Chess Kids, a great app to learn and practice chess. You don't have to be a chess player to introduce it to your kids, and your kids don't have to be super-intellectual to enjoy it. So go ahead and give it a shot!
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