Sunday, 18 September 2011

Chess club beats MindLab

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If you have kids at school in the UK then I'm sure you've had fliers home and the hard sell from Mind Lab UK.  They are an organisation which brings strategy games into school as a chargeable extra curricular activity amid promises that it'll help your child's education.

I know many people love them and its popular with the kids, but I've been suspicious of them from the start.  

First off it was the way their fliers stated they were providing input to the curriculum, as if they were providing a free service.  Of course it's no such thing; the club is at a price and if the school want them in classes that's no where near free either.

Secondly it was the fact they ran taster sessions with the kids who came home saying "please can we do mind lab, we'll do better at school.". I calmly explained to Rachel that it's just playing clever games and we cox do that at home.  To which she responded "no you can't, these are special games".

Thirdly it is the fact that when I looked in detail at their offerings it is literally no more beneficial than playing Draughts, Chess or Backgammon with your kids.  It's about planning strategies and holding future possibilities in your mind whilst acting now.

So I taught Rachel chess and she took to it like a duck to water.  I've also taught her draughts and she loves the way she can play it with friends.  It's not rocket science, it's fun and guess what ... It's free!

We play games as a family; anything from scrabble to monopoly through UNO and top trumps with chess, draughts and dictionary in the mix.  It is time together which has it's obvious benefits; it teaches losing and winning; it helps with concentration and strategy and I'm sure it ticks a number of numeracy and literacy targets as well.

If I had a choice I'd choose chess club over mind lab every time; now if only I could find the time to organise one.  Watch this space.

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