Learning Life Lessons Through Chess

Chess has been a game changer for one student at the LINK(Linking Instruction/ Nurturing Knowledge) Club. Once quick to anger and prone to fighting, Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School fifth-grader Jakodi now sees there are consequences to every decision he makes.

I used to fight, get in trouble and have to take anger management because I would get upset at little things when they weren’t that big at all. But, chess helps me think. Should I do this, or should I do this, before I do anything,” Jakodi said.

Jakodi’s friend Carlos, also a fifth-grader, taught him the game while at the LINK Club, an after-school enrichment program at Brent Place Apartments where K-5 student residents and ACPS teachers come together at the end of the day for tutoring and mentoring in a friendly atmosphere.

Site Coordinator Dawud Rawlings saw an opportunity to engage with students and offering an alternative to video games.

I’ve seen a huge difference in students’ critical thinking, math skills and behavior toward each other since they’ve taken up chess. They’re participating more and displaying better sportsmanship toward each other,” Rawlings said.

Students are starting to feel the affects of playing chess outside of the club, too.

It’s helping me to do my homework and calms me down. I still get angry sometimes but I’m working on it and chess seems to be helping me a lot.” Jakodi said.

Rawlings is so pleased with chess at LINK that he’s thought of trying to move it into the schools during lunches.

If done during the middle of the school, it can help kids complete the day. Even if they’re having a rough day, they can end the day on a positive note … I can use that time to find out what things they might be struggling with and it’s all applied to the game of chess. Chess really does apply to everyday living situations,” Rawlings said.

LINK is funded through a three-year grant from the Department of Education and in collaboration with the non-profit housing developer Homes for America. It offers include project-based learning opportunities, enrichment activities, field trips, and social and emotional support services. Students’ families also have access to onsite training designed to increase involvement in their child’s education and improve their overall quality of life.

Keep up with the happenings at the LINK Club by following @LINKclubACPS on Twitter.

ACPS, Tucker, Video