Introduction to Life Skills
Life skills are a set of abilities, attitudes and competencies that help children learn, manage their emotional states, interact appropriately, and make good decisions for an active, safe and productive life. Parents, schools and other teaching organizations participate in the teaching of life skills. This is to equip children so they can better deal with life’s challenges. Some life skills are said to be “essential” but there’s no definitive list that everyone agrees on.
Most parents understand that chess is a special game. They expect that their kids will enjoy chess and be stimulated by it. They also generally acknowledge that there are cognitive benefits for their kids, from playing chess—such as creative and critical thinking, and problem solving. Parents get that those life skills will be useful to their kids in daily life. This is where the programs of many chess teaching organizations, including those doing “scholastic chess” may limit their focus. “Improve chess skills, go for the cognitive benefits and stop there” is often a fair description.
At Chess Institute of Canada (CIC), we seek to expand parents’ appreciation of how chess can be used as a tool to teach life skills. In addition to the cognitive benefits from learning and playing chess, there are also emotional, behavioural and social benefits that can be obtained by learning the “softer life skills.” These include personal skills, interpersonal skills and social skills, as follows:
In our view, chess is a great analogy for life, and many skills can be used in both chess and life, often with only minor “mental translation” from one context (chess) to the other (life). For example, personal skills such as having patience, delayed gratification and resilience (bouncing back from loss) work well as both chess skills and general life skills.
The qualities of chess – its rules and etiquette, the need to find solutions to problems, and its inherent playability and fun factor – make it uniquely well-suited as a tool for teaching and learning life skills. With positive reinforcement from well-trained, experienced instructors, our Chess to Life™ translation works well.
We try to make sure that when we teach our integrated chess and life skills lessons, there is a good mix of cognitive, emotional, behavioural/social content. We believe this enhances learning and stimulates our students to do better and work harder. We use a number of teaching techniques to help our students make the connections between chess and life.
We believe that the way our Chess to Life™ programs leverage chess to teach life skills, is warmly welcomed by parents and educators, once they themselves “make the connection.”