Both psychologists and educators stress how important the early stage of school education is for a child’s intellectual and emotional development. This conviction was proven by scientific research in the field of neurobiology, providing data that allowed us to better understand the process of shaping the personality and skills of a young person. Scientists agree that a genetically determined intelligence quotient is only one of the many factors influencing the future success and life satisfaction of today’s kids. In primary school, natural intellectual predispositions of pupils should be properly stimulated, but an equally important element of education should be the development of the so-called “emotional intelligence”, which consists, among other things, of qualities such as perseverance, enthusiasm, self-control, and ability to self-motivate oneself. School education that takes all these factors into account in a balanced way effectively strengthens the child’s natural potential.
As part of the improvement of teaching methods, Polish schools are offering additional classes which are a well thought out supplement to the current core curriculum. One of them was the “Wars & Sawa Playing Chess” project carried out by the Municipal Office of the Capital City of Warsaw in collaboration with Kozminski University, Warsaw Centre for Education and Social Innovations and Trainings, the Education Department of the City of Warsaw, the Sports and Recreation Department of the City of Warsaw, and the Polish Chess Federation. The programme was run by teachers from 72 qualified schools, who took part in special training courses to get prepared for teaching. Kozminski University provided diagnostic tools necessary to conduct research on the impact of playing chess on particular competencies of children. The evaluation of the project took into account various aspects of cognitive development, such as the ability to solve problems creatively, the ability to concentrate, the development of non-school interests, and the performance in class. The university also helped in drawing up a report presenting the research results.
Playing chess requires logical and creative thinking, spatial orientation, patience, perseverance, and social skills such as healthy competition or respect for the opponent. Those behind the “Wars & Sawa Playing Chess” project believe that this chess can help children develop a range of competencies important in adult life.