The Belleair Montessori Academy's winning chess team. (l-r) Jessica Saltz of Palm Harbor, Francois Sezionale of Clearwater, Brian Schaaf of Safety Harbor, and Steve Kirk of Clearwater.
BELLEAIR - Though they've only been competing for one year, the Belleair Montessori Academy (BMA) chess team comprised of students from the academy's upper elementary has made a winning move. They will travel to Gainsesville this May to compete against the state's best players, because on January 2, BMA's team competed in the regional competition in Tampa and took second place, which qualifies them to compete in the upcoming statewide competition.
BMA incorporated chess into their Montessori method curriculum two years ago. The benefits of chess for young children has been presented to school boards and groups across the world due to numerous studies that have concluded that across the board, chess improves a child's analytical ability, focus, pattern recognition, memory, and reading skills. Research has shown that children who learn chess at school regularly outperform students who haven't been exposed to the game. From playing chess, children learn self-discipline and causes them to take responsibility for their own mistakes. There are social benefits to be gained by playing chess as well. Children who learn chess benefit in terms of improved self-esteem, make friends who share their interest, and learn sportsmanship etiquette, to win and loose graciously.
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