More Ways To Handle Large Clubs

This is the follow-up article to How To Handle Large Chess Clubs.

Before, I discussed the importance of utilizing the resources at your school to make sure that the foundation of the club starts and stays strong.

Now I will write more about how to differentiate the different chess skill levels of students so that everyone can leave the class feeling that he or she has learned something.

Once the signup and registration deadline is reached and completed I take a look at my roster for the session. Some students I might know from previous chess club sessions, but many of them will be brand new to the club, as well as brand new to chess.

What I like to do at the beginning of the school year is to have a basic skills test that EVERYONE takes on the first day.

I like to call it "What Do You Know?" since the word "test" can sound intimidating. This helps me to see what a student currently understands. The test contains questions such as, "Which piece is this?" all the way to identifying a checkmate position.

I take all the tests home and go over each one with my roster making notes next to each student. Ultimately, this helps me put students in the appropriate group as soon as the second class so that they start receiving the best lessons for their current skill levels.

In my experience, if a student gets the en passant question correct they usually score 100 percent on the test since this is the most confusing rule, especially for the elementary aged students that I teach.

Below are some sample questions from the first day skills test.

Sample Questions

Before having the students take the skills test on the first day it is very important that you explain to them that it is completely fine for them not to know an answer of a question!

Make sure that everyone knows that the purpose is to determine the best groups -- in order to learn as much as possible!

The first day of chess club is not just about tests and making groups! More important, it is critical that everyone feels welcome and that this is going to be a fun place to come play and learn about chess with peers.