Chess Helps Develop Critical Thinking Skills in K-12 Students

How do you use critical thinking in your adult life? Do you wish you would have had better critical thinking skills when you made a decision in your youth? How did you learn to think critically?

Critical thinking skills aren’t only for the classroom and opportunities to teach students critical thinking skills are by no means limited to classroom, either. In Oregon and Washington, students in kindergarten through high school recently played in the 46th annual Oregon Chess for Success state tournament. Chess for Success has participated in research that found chess can improve critical thinking skills, according to the article “Students learn more than checkmates with Chess for Success.

Director Julie Young says chess players learn life skills like impulse control, delayed gratification, long-term planning, and strategizing. On their website, Chess for Success says:

“Chess has a positive effect on the self-image of students, particularly those students who have not enjoyed academic success and may not be perceived as “smart” by their peers and adults. Chess possesses a unique capacity for focusing the attention of young children and providing challenging experiences that stimulate the development of critical thinking, even among children who are usually restless and unable to concentrate on schoolwork.”

Chess for Success is a great example that shows critical thinking skills can be introduced and refined through a variety of modes. Students can be encouraged to ask problem-solving questions in math class. Parents can give their child a real-life scenario and ask their opinion of what the best option is. Kids can be encouraged to think before acting in social circles. What critical thinking activities can you include in your lessons? How can you bring critical thinking skills to your theater, psychology, or language class?


“Students Learn More Than Checkmates with Chess for Success,” by Molly Harbarger. 3 March 2012. The Oregonian. 7 March 2012. 

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