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Upper West Side School Teaches Pre-Schoolers Chess

Goddard School Principle: Chess Teaches Basic Life Principles

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The game of chess is challenging to learn, but in New York City, 3- and 4-year-old children are learning to play and seem to be captivated by it.

As CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported Monday, preschoolers at the Goddard School on the Upper West Side are learning the game. Ayane Nagayama, 4, is just now slowly learning to read and can spell her name, but she is also on her way to becoming a proficient chess player.

She said she does not like checkers, but she does like chess.

Teacher Amanda Snatchko teaches the children about the pieces and rules of moving them through a story. For example, the pawns in the front row are children.

“Every lesson is a different story about the pieces, and the kids remember based on a story,” Snatchko said.

The school, at 93rd Street and Broadway, just introduced chess into the curriculum for all the students this year. The group started lessons a few weeks ago.

School principal Bill Swan said chess teaches basic life principles.

“In chess you have to make decisions — plan ahead, think before you act, change in mid-stream because your partner has changed the game; rethink your plan,” Swan said.

While the children might not all be future title winners, don’t be surprised if your little one challenges you to an old-fashioned game of chess.

Swan said he made the decision to add chess to the curriculum at the school because both private and public schools are starting to introduce it to kindergartners.

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