Chess lessons 'improve children's behaviour'

RESEARCHERS looking at ways to improve behaviour say local authorities should teach wayward youths to play chess.

Aberdeen University staff discovered that youngsters who started playing chess became mentally sharper and better behaved than those who did not.

"The big question is why this is happening," said Dod Forrest, of the university's School of Education. "We looked at reading skills before they play chess and afterwards, and it improves significantly, but we don't fully understand it.

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"The social aspect could be just as important as the development of the cognitive process chess playing demands. Playing in tournaments leads to travelling about a bit and getting involved in a wider section of society, building contacts and confidence."

The year-long study involved children from two primary schools in Aberdeen where free school meals are the norm. It was found that disruptive pupils would volunteer to help out in after-school chess classes and that spilled over into improved behaviour in other classes.

"We noticed that being interested and enthusiastic about chess led to a welcome modification in behaviour elsewhere," Mr Forrest said.

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