Anatomy of a Chess at Three Lesson

Whether you’re new to Chess at Three’s innovative approach to early childhood chess or a longtime supporter of our story-based teaching style, you may be wondering: What exactly goes into my child’s chess lesson?

chess teacher and student

Every one of our world-class tutors runs their lessons a little differently, and that’s something we pride ourselves on. Our Certified Storytellers are the best in the business, precisely because they tailor every session to the needs and interests of each individual student.

But at the end of the day, we train our tutors to run a tight ship and manage their lessons based on a consistent model. Here’s how it all breaks down:

1. Setting the Stage
As any seasoned Chess at Three tutor will tell you, kids are usually EXCITED when the doorbell rings. Dogs bark, younger siblings rush to the foyer — everyone’s pumped because they know something special is about to happen: chess and stories!

kids loving chess

That’s why our tutors make sure to set aside a few minutes at the beginning of each lesson to focus that energy by checking in with their kids about their day, and assessing their students’ mood and disposition. Being a kid can be hard, and our tutors understand that a successful lesson is built on comfort and communication.

When meeting a new student for the first time, tutors often take a few extra moments at the top of the hour to establish some rapport and break the ice. Because of our first lesson’s focus on King Chomper’s voracious appetite, these first conversations often center on a subject almost everyone, young and old, can talk about with confidence: food!

2. What happened last week?
Unless it’s the first meeting between a tutor and their student, Chess at Three lessons always begin with a brief review. Especially in the first few weeks, when students are taking in a lot of new information, reviewing previously covered material is an important part of every lesson.

kid playinh chess

Our curriculum utilizes dozens of fun minigames like Queen vs. Pawns and the Knight’s Journey which isolate specific skills, allowing students to practice those skills without the pressure and complexity of playing a full game. Running through one of these minigames or repeating last week’s Chessercises (more on those later) makes review fun and effective and gets students in the right mindset to learn even more.

kids playing chess

3. Off to Chesslandia!
The crown jewels of our curriculum are the fun, engaging stories at the heart of every Chess at Three lesson. From the foundational stories that introduce the main cast of characters, to advanced series like the Great Pillow Fight, each Chesslandia adventure introduces a new chess rule, concept, or strategy in a memorable way.

Queen Bella

But our tutors don’t just read these stories off the page — they memorize them and tell them in their own unique style. Our outstanding corps of talented tutors comprises professional voice actors, musical theatre performers, puppeteers, composers, musicians, and visual artists.

Depending on the tutor, your child might well be in for a Broadway-caliber performance right in their own living room! Many tutors also incorporate props, costumes, and original songs to make storytime a truly memorable experience for their students.

4. Chessercises
By the end of storytime, a typical one-hour lesson is halfway up and, for many students, it’s about time to shake the wiggles out. That’s where Chessercises come in! Chessercises are physical role-playing activities in which students act out moments from the story they just heard and move around like the chess pieces they’re learning about.

Teacher playing chess

Chessercises always begin with a warm-up and a stretch, signalling to students that they’re about to do something special. Then, they’ll “dress up” like a specific character from that day’s story, donning imaginary costumes and assuming that character’s physicality.

Then, tutors will lead their students through an activity in which they perform the movement of a chess piece or act out a scene. In the Queen Bella lesson, for example, students zip around the room in straight and diagonal lines, just like the queen on the board. Chessercises are excellent at concretizing new information and preparing students to properly execute moves on the chessboard.

5. Gameplay
After Chessercises, there’s only one thing left to do: break out the chess set! The gameplay portion of a Chess at Three lesson includes at least three distinct exercises that are carried out on the chessboard.

Kids playing chess

These exercises often take the form of minigames that give students a chance to practice specific skills, but they can also be short chess puzzles designed to stretch a student’s analytical abilities. Regardless, our tutors always tie these exercises back to the day’s story, so everything stays connected and students know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Once a student has learned how all the pieces move, this part of the lesson may be devoted to playing a full game of chess against their tutor, or teaming up with their tutor to play against a computer program or chess app. Tutors always take a student’s experience into consideration when setting the difficulty level of a live game, and frequently call timeouts to discuss a position or reinforce a new skill.

Kids doing a chess puzzle

No matter what, our tutors make sure everyone plays fair, has fun, and ends the day with a heartfelt, “Good game!”

Chess at Three lessons are without a doubt the most fun and effective way for kids as young as three to learn the game and develop a lifelong love of chess. If you’re interested in learning more and signing up for a free trial lesson, head over to our website to get started today!

Experience the magic today!