One of the most important goals we had as we developed the MATCH Chess Curriculum was to help chess coaches, schools and other organizations scale chess programs in a sustainable way. Since strong players with excellent teaching skills can be hard to find/keep due to availability and/or cost, there was a pressing need to create a curriculum that would make teaching chess possible for anyone who is good at working with children.
By using MATCH as a base, limited coaching resources can be directed toward more advanced students while still providing beginning students with an engaging, comprehensive program. Here are some suggestions that could meet your coaching needs:
Beginner to Beginner/Intermediate:
Use the full curriculum to teach all incoming beginning students. In this case, the program has been perfectly tailored for use by instructors who have a very limited or even no knowledge of chess. After a brief review, instructors will have all the information they need to present lessons to new students in a guided and stimulating way. With beginners serving as a large and consistent population of learners, the ideas and techniques in MATCH will be useful for a year or more of lessons.
Check out this blog post to learn more about how such a curriculum can help you develop a strong brand for your program.
Once students graduate from the curriculum, continue to use the skill builders, MATCH score sheets, appropriate activities (e.g., many of the academic connection, art, chess variants and other activities are appropriate for all levels) and selected lessons to keep a consistent brand and make sure any gaps in students’ learning are covered. If you haven’t already, you can give these students the Level 1A test to help identify these gaps. Most of the skill builders are appropriate for all levels, either getting more challenging as skills improve or offering new learning opportunities once the students master certain skills. A good example is the Pawn Game. When students first start learning to play chess, the Pawn Game helps them master how pawns move and capture. Once that is mastered, students quickly begin to work out ideas involving timely exchanges, temporizing, and basic counting. The addition of individual pieces makes the exercises far more complex and will give even advanced students the opportunity to stretch their skills.
For this level, you will need instructors with an intermediate level of chess skill; however, you can still use volunteers and other staff to run activities, skill builders, etc. See our post on using learning stations and managing different levels in the same classroom for ideas for how this can work.
You will need skilled coaches who can individualize instruction for your advanced students. Even so, you can still use some of the skill builders (such as Domination), advanced Pawn Mower puzzles (Combo and Deluxe Editions both have more advanced puzzles), MATCH Scoresheets, Tips for Success and some of the other ideas listed above. We know that teaching deepens learning, so advanced students can also be tasked with teaching beginners certain activities and skill builders. Done excessively, advanced students (and their parents) will likely feel that they aren’t getting enough training at their level, but, kept in balance, they will improve their chess skills as well as get a chance to practice teaching and leadership skills. As a side note, beginning students will benefit from learning from more advanced ones, something research has shown to be incredibly effective.
By using these strategies you can develop a full chess program, maximizing your expertise, time and financial resources. Kids with different skill levels can be brought together for some activities and tournaments to help create a cohesive chess community. Your planning will be simplified and parents, teachers and others will see that you have a comprehensive, well-organized program.