Reverse Academic Setbacks with Chess at Three

On October 24th, the U.S. Department of Education announced that American public school students regressed sharply in math and reading scores between 2019 and 2022.

The data, known as the "Nation's Report Card," wasn't wholly surprising; COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption in schools over the last two years.

If the current situation keeps you up at night, don’t despair just yet! While the results are troubling, there are many things parents and teachers can do to get their kids back on the road to scholastic success.

With that in mind, here are a few ways Chess at Three’s story-based learning system—and chess in general—can sharpen your kids' math, reading, and critical thinking skills!

Chess as “Mental Gymnasium”
Renowned mathematician Blaise Pascal once described chess as the “gymnasium of the mind.” Pascal, who invented the world’s first mechanical calculator in 1642, wasn’t wrong. We now know that chess exercises both sides of the brain: the right “creative” side and the left “analytical” side.

Chess at Three’s approach is uniquely designed to take advantage of this phenomenon: Stories and illustrations stimulate the right hemisphere, while learning rules and strategies lights up the left hemisphere.

Our two-pronged pedagogy helps kids become adaptable and confident in both verbal and quantitative reasoning. Even when they encounter math or reading activities that challenge them, they’ll maintain a “growth mindset,” correctly believing that, with enough practice, they’ll improve and overcome.

Logic and Math on the Chessboard
Between ages two and seven, children are given to magical thinking, what psychologists term “preoperational” cognition. But chess is a game of cause and effect; my knight attacks your pawn so you shore up your defenses based on the options in front of you. In this way, playing chess encourages kids to become logical thinkers.

Chess at Three helps kids slow down, consider the possibilities, and make evidence-based decisions, a critical process for STEM success. We also include the cornerstone of quantitative reasoning, basic arithmetic, in fun, unique ways. Our “Spaghetti Tug o’ War” module introduces piece point values, giving early childhood learners an opportunity to practice addition, subtraction, and even multiplication.

Offering kids a space to hone these skills beyond the classroom and apart from homework is the best way to promote academic growth. Chess at Three’s Upper East Side and Park Slope Chess Clubs are the perfect setting for this extra practice, with group lessons, camps, and special events throughout the year.

Literacy Out Loud
Chess at Three emphasizes out-loud storytelling, making our approach an ideal catalyst for linguistic development. Numerous studies have shown that reading aloud to kids boosts pre-reading skills, enhances vocabulary acquisition, and can even lead to lower rates of hyperactivity and attention issues later in life.

More broadly, when our tutors read aloud they imbue words with emotional meaning and model lexical fluency. Chess at Three pushes the benefits even further by encouraging discussion and dialogic reading, the practice of stopping periodically to repeat key phrases, introduce new vocabulary, and engage in textual analysis.

With these reading comprehension techniques—all of which deliver benefits in the classroom—Chess at Three lessons help children gain knowledge, make sense of their world, and build the mental muscles that will make them incisive, adventurous, capable readers.

Boost IQ for Overall Growth
Since 1905, IQ tests have been used to both altruistic and nefarious ends. In light of that history, IQ (which stands for intelligence quotient) is far from a perfect metric for intellectual ability. Still, most psychologists and education experts agree that the skills challenged by an IQ test—working memory, verbal reasoning, visual-spatial reasoning—are crucial to academic success.

Studies in India and Venezuela showed that children who studied and played chess regularly, in some cases for as little as four months, garnered statistically significant increases in IQ. Even if the tests didn’t account for every type of intellectual competency, that’s a clear indication that engaging with chess on a regular basis can be the rising tide that elevates a host of scholastic skills at once.

Chess at Three bestows chess’s cognitive benefits on younger children than ever before, starting at just three years old. Find out more at and sign up for in-home, online, community, or chess club classes today.

Helping on the Home Front
Experts agree: Consistent extracurricular enrichment is the deciding factor in a child’s academic achievement, and it doesn’t stop with reading aloud. Research shows that early childhood students who routinely apply arithmetic skills outside the classroom find it much easier to bring those skills to bear on novel problems in an academic setting.

Chess at Three helps children hone their math and verbal skills under the guidance of an expert tutor. Our lessons emphasize arithmetic by teaching chess piece point values. Fun, interactive exercises sharpen kids’ logic and problem-solving skills, and our focus on storytelling boosts vocabulary and linguistic development in our students.

Better Classroom Behavior Leads to Learning
Calmer classrooms increase all students’ academic performance, and chess can play a big role in reducing disruptive behavior. In the late 1980s, Brownsville Elementary School in Texas created a chess program for their most at-risk youth, boosting their grades and improving their classroom conduct dramatically.

Chess’s ability to create a more advantageous learning environment continues to be well-documented. In 2019 the Alabama Chess in Schools program reported that students who regularly took chess lessons behaved better and listened more closely throughout the school day. When surveyed, the students themselves said they felt like stronger, more determined learners with longer attention spans.

A respectful, welcoming school community can give all students the best opportunity to realize their full potential. Along with core gameplay skills, Chess at Three teaches patience, thoughtfulness, and sportsmanship. With the characters as models, kids pick up on and emulate these values, encouraging them to set a good example for others.

Helping kids regain their academic footing is extremely important to the Chess at Three team. By offering kids as young as three an opportunity to learn this incredibly beneficial game, we hope to be a part of the solution for parents and educators everywhere.

With a range of lesson types—from in-home private lessons to online classes to chess clubs—making chess a part of your child’s academic success has never been easier. Click here to browse our site and let the games begin!

Experience the magic today!