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August 25, 2008

Chess is Cool

I recently stumbled upon a site called Your Chess and the idea fascinated me immediately.
Here is a husband and wife team who have set up a consulting organization teaching children how to play chess; and generating a lot of benefits for the children and their families in the meantime. I have a four year old myself, and this has inspired me to teach him how to play chess!
I love consulting, creativity, and family values and this company embraces all three of those fantastic virtues. So I asked  Laura Sherman if she would mind running a guest post here to tell us how she and her husband got started with this fascinating concept.  
My husband and I met through chess in Los Angeles, CA back in 1992 and fell madly in love at a tournament. We had both achieved “expert” level with United States Chess Federation and were running different chess magazines locally.

Fast forward 16 years and we have two small children with another on the way. Earlier this year we introduced our 4 year old to chess and he now begs us for lessons frequently. When friends began to approach us to teach their children, we realized there was a strong need for chess coaches in our area and a new business dawned.

I started researching chess in education and realized that we could help the next generation dramatically by teaching chess. Not only do test scores soar, but children achieve a lot of other life skills. Imagine a world where people all have excellent problem solving skills, where they are patient and respectful of each other! One learns these skills and more through chess. Honestly that is what gets me going more than anything else.

As we formed the company, word spread like wildfire. Parents called and emailed us, asking for lessons. Every school we approached was immediately interested in the idea of having their students learn from us. They could really see the benefits with little pitch from me. But how do you interest children in a game that has the stigma of being only for geeky boys? Change the reputation!

Our approach is to make chess cool and fun for kids. Our primary aim is to have them learn the life lessons they can achieve through chess. There is nothing like watching a young child gain problem solving skills with a self confidence that would blow most executives out of the water.

We introduce ourselves to a new school by offering to perform a free chess “Simultaneous Exhibition”, where my husband plays a number of children at the same time. They love this event and become eager to learn more about the game. A local news team came out to film one of our simuls, airing it the same day during prime news time. You can check out the clip on our website:

For our 4-year-old students we also bring out a giant chess board (17’ x 17’), so that they can walk the board like the various pieces. Everyone who enrolls in our classes gets a “Play Chess” wristband, which they wear proudly around the school. It is these little touches, along with our enthusiastic passion for teaching chess that creates strong interest amongst the kids.

After five months we now have eight private students and five schools ready to start our fall program (with three more in the wings). We also have online students and plan to expand those programs this year as well. We can tailor make a program to suit any group of any size and always teach live lessons - real people teaching real people is key to success. It isn’t hard to interest communities in our programs and get kids on the road to a bright new future!
I also subscribe to their newsletter which is filled with heartfelt articles about the benefits of chess for families and I have found this encounter to be truly inspiring. 
I wish them all the very best. 

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