Better math scores for toddlers? Checkmate!

Chess Kids (Photo: KOMO Newsradio).

DES MOINES, Wash. -- A game of skill, precision, and patience is being used as a teaching tool for toddlers.

The game is chess.

“Not for the sake of learning to play the game,” says Elliott Neff. “But for the sake of developing those early learning skills that help them accomplish the kindergarten-readiness objectives.”

Neff is the founder of Chess 4 Life, a chess advocacy group that’s been getting kids hooked on chess for years. But now, there's a new focus in Washington; teaching the game to 3 and 4 year olds.

“It’s not really about chess, even though they really do learn how to play. It’s the concepts,” says Neff.

For the program, preschool teachers are shown how to teach the game to their young students.

Katie Warren, deputy director at the Washington State Association of Head Start, says this chess program will be rolled-out to more early learning programs next year, because of what it's teaching kids.

“Not only were we seeing some improvements in math, but it was really the social/emotional development we were seeing,” Warren says.

Click on the photo above to hear more about the program, and how it’s first year is going at Children’s Home Society of Washington, Highline Early Learning Center.

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