Revolutionizing Early Childhood Learning: Chess at Three

Note: Research on the company was done with only information from the company’s website.

What is the best age to learn how to play chess?

Recently, the standard has been changing to younger and younger, especially in the United States. News articles in the United States have shown chess players achieving breaking extraordinary age barriers at younger and younger ages, such as Carissa Yip’s record of achieving youngest female master at 11 years old. It seems that every few months/years, the kids are breaking records. It seemed only a short while ago that I heard Maximillian Lu was the youngest master in US History at 9 years old, 28 days before his 10th birthday. This record was recently broken by Christopher Yoo. Awonder Liang’s amazing 8 year old chess expert was recently succeeded by Abhimanyu Mishra’s 7.

However, we’ve always had our child prodigies in the chess world, from Bobby Fischer, who became a grandmaster at 15 to Sergey Karjakin, who achieved it at age 12. One of the most recently broken international records was the one for youngest IM in history, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who achieved the title at 10 years old.

It is clear that along with the fact that these kids inherently possess immense chess talent, there is an added factor that children are learning at early ages. Of course, there is no designated age to learn- anyone can learn to play chess at any age and excel.

I have recently discovered a chess company based in New York City called Chess at Three that believes that three years old is a great time to start learning to play chess! After reading about the company, I have come to believe that this company is truly revolutionizing the learning and teaching process of chess.

You see, this company teaches in an entirely unique way.

It is no doubt extremely difficult to teach any game to a three year old. There’s a problem with getting the child to concentrate long enough, stay still enough to learn. There’s a problem with simply getting the child to listen. There’s a problem with getting the child to understand. Chess at Three teaches with a curriculum that uses storytelling to teach chess.

But why? Why this method?

Well, kids love to ask the question WHY?!  The company started with that curiosity, as the CEO, Tyler Schwartz, had taught chess and found that upon learning how each chess piece moved, kids often asked why they moved the way they do. There was no clear reason to say, so Tyler made up a reason why the king only moved one square: he eats a lot of food, rendering him unable to move more than one square at a time. The reaction was uncontrollable laughter and there was a new idea for teaching. Combined with his friend, Jon Sieber, now co-founder and president of Chess at Three, the stories told to the children who take lessons with Chess at Three begun to take form as a part of the closely guarded trade secret to success: the Chess at 3 Core Curriculum.

This curriculum fosters the affinity for enjoyment and excitement about learning chess that every child needs. I have already seen young kids excited about learning chess in some classroom settings myself, but never have I come to think of such a receptive learning process. The idea behind using storytelling to teach chess in itself is just so clearly genius. How could a child ever feel the pressure to learn chess when lessons are just focused on fun?

And that’s largely what chess should be. Chess is, at the end of a day, just a game. It is meant to evoke excitement, meant to be fun for players. Otherwise, there is no point to playing at all, if it stops being fun.

Chess at Three is also special in the way that it introduces people from all walks of life to chess- and not just children at that. A stereotype of chess players and chess teachers can be that they are “nerdy-looking,” antisocial, “boring,” and perhaps aggressively competitive. However, the company gives artists, actors, storytellers, and writers the chance to join the chess community in an amazing way. It promotes a new kind of chess culture, suggests that you don’t have to be the most accomplished chess player to teach children to play chess. To begin, you need the discipline and maturity to teach, passion, and a belief in the power of storytelling.

The values that Chess at Three also teaches amidst the chess are also worth mentioning. Chess teaches sportsmanship, for sure. The very nature of a handshake before and after a game shows the kindness afforded to opponents. It teaches acceptance and diversity in a way, as chess is a game for all people, regardless of race, nationality, gender, ethnicity, economic background, sexuality, etc. According to the Chess at Three website, though, Chess at Three also teaches “Literacy, Chess History, and Math,” and “lessons include interactive moments, physical movements (chessercizes), and guidelines for game play at each level of development.” These lessons set the company’s curriculum apart from others, guaranteeing development in many unprecedented ways.

I think it is important to distinguish that no, this article is not a promotion of Chess at Three simply because I hope to work there after a bit of paperwork and logistics. Instead, this article is meant to praise the new way a company wants to teach chess to children that promotes a fun environment and method of learning. I speak as a journalist, as a chess player, and someone passionate about chess and expanding the chess community. I speak as a writer, a reader, and an artist. I believe in the mission so strongly, that chess can be told through stories.

And if you’re not convinced enough that this company has some seriously cool credit, check out this testimonial:

“Tyler’s stories and lessons have our two children loving chess! We’re proud to have it in our home, and think every child should be learning Chess at Three.”

– Hugh Jackman (Actor)

THEY TAUGHT HUGH JACKMAN’S CHILDREN? Sign your kid up right away!

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