Have you ever thought about how to integrate chess into your Montessori environment? My two older children learnt to play chess at their (Montessori) schools. Many of their schools also had chess clubs, so they could practice playing with their peers. Until now, I've never had to teach a child how to play chess. I am thankful that Otto (4yrs), the youngest of three children, has two patient older brothers to play chess with, but he still has to learn the basic skills.
If you want to know more about learning chess in a Montessori way, you must read No Checkmate: Montessori Chess Lessons for Age 3 to 90+ by Susan Mayclin Stephenson (UK here)(AU here). I love and have all of Susan's books and appreciate her writing; while it is rooted firmly in Montessori philosophy, it is practical and relevant to at-home use. Also, if you are a Montessori teacher, this would be so useful in teaching chess to your students.
There are so many benefits of learning chess; it is a lifelong skill that can cross cultural divides. It is fantastic for cognitive development, creativity, memory, and concentration and also helps to develop social skills like inviting a partner to play, taking turns, patience, manners, and friendly competition.
We can approach chess from a Montessori perspective, including using chess in practical life, sensorial, grace and courtesy, and language lessons!! ❤️ Some of the easy, preliminary activities for younger children Susan suggests include:
- setting up the furniture for a chess game
- handling the chess pieces.
- dusting or polishing chess pieces
- matching black and white chess pieces
- using the three-period lesson to learn the names of chess pieces
- use chess pieces in a mystery bag (stereognostic bag)
One of the early activities we've used with Otto is matching chess pieces. I used Montessori chess three-part cards for the matching cards and the chess pieces from our playing set.
Susan also shows how to teach the child the role of each chess piece one at a time and how to play in a non-competitive way.
Otto and Otis have been playing this after school. No Stress Chess is so easy. Each person takes a turn at taking a card and only moves the chess piece on the card. The card also tells the person which moves the chess piece can make.
The chess board is normal on one side, and the other side has labels where each chess piece starts. It's super helpful.
Slowly Otto is catching on.
We can also use chess in art and history lessons. Many years ago, Caspar made a chess set in his art class. ❤️
At what age did you teach your children chess, if at all? My children all learnt at around 5-6 years, but if you are interested and committed, a child as young as 3-4 years could pick it up.
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