Children of all ages often yearn to have control over something in their lives, whether that’s what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to school. Kids on the autism spectrum, and those who have ADHD, also yearn for social connections. Kids To Kings, a chess tutoring program, uses the game to transform children into kings, giving them ultimate control over their “army” on the board and helping them start conversations and make friends.
“The game is great for all different types of people,” says Kids To Kings founder and head teacher Brian Julian. “It creates an equal playing field where victory is attainable for anyone, regardless of economic background, learning challenges or adversity.” He teamed up with Ezra Werb, an educational therapist, to tailor a Kids To Kings curriculum to the needs of children with autism and ADHD, designing a chess board that holds the pieces for children who may struggle to keep them in place on a traditional board, and also helps kids keep track of their moves.
“I love chess class because it challenges me intellectually and helps me to organize my body,” says Nicole Voisard, a student at Emerson Academy in Studio City, where Kids To Kings meets on Mondays. Many students at Emerson are on the autism spectrum and face communication challenges. The adapted chess boards and iPads help them complete their moves, and the game itself becomes a conversation and a new form of communication. “I love that it has demonstrated to me that victory is achieved by being patient and strategic,” Voisard says. “I like the social aspect, too.”
Kids To Kings also offers chess education in other public and private schools, in-home tutoring and tournaments and events. To learn more, visit www.kidstokings.com or contact Brian Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-625-6904.