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Checkmate, my classmate! (Curriculum update: the latest developments in math, science, language arts and social studies).

Chess has been shown to improve visual memory, attention span and spatial reasoning among children who play--often resulting in higher test scores and greater intellectual and social maturity. But does chess belong in the classroom?

Thirty-three counties worldwide that have integrated chess into the required curriculum think so. As does a Connecticut state senator, who has introduced a bill to make chess an elective. Districts wouldn't be required to offer it, but the state would have to establish a chess curriculum. At least two other states have considered similar initiatives, says Rosalind Sciammas, community relations director of America's Foundation for Chess.

While afterschool programs and clubs are common, chess in the curriculum is not, Sciammas says. Programs such as New York's Chess in the Schools have brought the game to some classrooms, but the U.S. has generally been slow to accept the idea. Perhaps it's the perception of chess as a geeky sport, Sciammas points out. Another factor hurting chess: The short attention spans of American youth.

With AF4C's program, chess instructors teach a year-long curriculum and train K-6 teachers to include it themselves in subjects such as math and history. Currently serving greater Seattle, AF4C is hoping to expand to other areas. Groups can apply to form local non-profit AF4C chapters through a challenge grant model.

Teachers and administrators say that chess does wonders for students who have trouble focusing, Sciammas says. As for the ability of young kids to pick up the game, "The kids always beat the teachers in the end."
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Title Annotation:does chess belong in the classroom?
Author:Ezarik, Melissa
Publication:District Administration
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Previous Article:Study: boys literate in spite of school. (Curriculum update: the latest developments in math, science, language arts and social studies).
Next Article:Report: 'fear factor' holding back civics. (Curriculum update: the latest developments in math, science, language arts and social studies).

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