What better way to learn the game of chess than to become a living chess piece? Kids participating in the new Chess Ninja classes at MACC will have the opportunity to do just that starting Thursday, March 30.
Instructor Thomas Lane, who moved to Chattanooga in September from Florence, Ala., has five years' experience teaching chess to kids. Locally, he taught a class at Chattanooga's downtown library branch in December. Lane teaches using the Chess Ninja program, which uses the slogan "Play games, get brains."
Benefits of learning chess include building cognitive skills, developing forward thinking and learning to weigh options before making a move, he said. But learning to lose is perhaps the greatest benefit.
"The beauty of chess is teaching kids how to lose with growing and learning in mind," said Lane. "It's a good platform for teaching both character skills and cognitive skills."
He recommends kids learn the game as early as possible, as long as they're learning in a setting that meets their developmental needs. Lane separates his students — most of who are brand new to chess — into four age groups, and bases his instruction on their level of development, he said.
For his youngest students, becoming life-size pawns that jump around a giant chess board, or "ninja training," works best, and Lane covers topics in a very simple way.
"The goal is to create a positive experience around chess," he said of teaching his 3- and 4-year-old students.
When they get a little older, students start with ninja training and then move on to playing standard chess. For more advanced players, the focus becomes patterns and general strategies.
Lane said his classes are different from participating in a chess club, which typically focus on competition.
"We just play chess to have fun and treat it as a game," he said, adding that if students are interested in competing, he'll support them in doing so.
Lane's upcoming class session runs six weeks, on Thursdays, March 30 through May 4. The "Little Ninjas" class welcomes those ages 3-4 from 10-10:30 a.m., and a class for home-schoolers ages 7-12 is from 10:45-11:45 a.m. Classes are also held from 5:15-6:15 p.m. for any students ages 5-7 and from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for any students ages 8-12.
The cost for Little Ninjas is $85, or $70 for MACC members; and all other classes cost $150, or $140 for MACC members. All students will receive a chess set and a Chess Ninja T-shirt upon completion of class.
To register, call the MACC at 886-1959 or contact Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-810-0341.