Are you a parent or teacher looking to start an elementary school chess club? Here are some good first steps:
1) Register your club. Follow your school’s process for registering your club and getting support from your PTA. This will help you reserve space to meet, promote your club in the school/PTA newsletter, and potentially get funding to buy some chess sets. Apply for our Game Changer Program to get 5 chess sets, and see our previous post for recommendations on where to buy more.
2) Open your club to all chess ability levels. Beginners should join at the start of the year so you can teach them all together. You could allow students who already know how to play to join at any time during the year. Many elementary school clubs start with grades 2-5 and add K-1 after they have more experience.
3) Set goals for your club. For example, our club’s goals are to have fun, learn, and play lots of chess. Winning is intentionally not one of our goals, but as we pursue these 3 goals the children keep improving and win plenty of games.
4) Determine when and where you will meet. Most elementary school clubs meet weekly before or after school. You can start meeting in a classroom. As your club grows, you can expand to two classrooms or move to the media center or cafeteria. If you meet in the cafeteria, you may still want to use a nearby classroom for lessons.
5) Play chess! Every week the children who know how to play can spend most of the time playing chess. If you have a large club, you can group students by ability rather than age/grade so that their games are more fun and challenging and so that they learn more from them.
6) Learn more chess! You can use the Learning Chess: Step 1 manual and workbook or the ChessKid.com curriculum we provide to help you plan lessons for your beginners as well as for your more experienced players. High school and middle school students could help you teach lessons.
7) Communicate your success! Regularly share photos with parents, submit photos for the yearbook, highlight your team’s success in school and PTA news, and prominently display any team trophies you win.