Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chess Puzzle

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that my B-man is an excellent starter.  He loves to start new projects, and even sports.  You can read about how he started football here  and here and gymnastics here.

His school participates in an academic competition every year called UIL Academics.  In the fall he brought home a form with all the available options for 2nd graders.  We discussed the options and settled on Chess Puzzle.  He had never played chess or even checkers before so I knew this would be an adventure.

First he had to try out.  The day before the try out I suggested he look up some videos on YouTube about chess.  I have also never played chess so I wasn't going to be much help at all.  I guess it worked because he made the team!

For months he's gone to school early every Friday morning to practice.  I will say I was worried about this.  What if he became frustrated? What if he had a meltdown in practice?  Would that ruin his entire day? His coach is awesome.  She really gets B-man.  She let him lead.  If he wasn't feeling chess that morning, she didn't push him.  B looked forward to chess every Friday morning.

He practiced at home as well.  His coach set him up on a website called Chess Kids and he'd play that from time to time.  For Christmas he actually received two chess boards.  One from his GG and Pops and one from Santa.  The board from GG and Pops is a beautiful, traditional board that's also magnetic and with drawers to hold the pieces.  Santa brought a learner's board that comes with cards explaining how to move and talks to you.  B generally preferred the board from GG and Pops.  Actually, he didn't open the talking board until the week of the competition.

The competition was last Saturday.  Again, I was a little nervous.  All the kids who were competing were to be a school early Saturday morning. They would ride a bus to another school for the day.  As a teacher, I've worked a number of these meets.  They can be a little chaotic.  Kids are waiting in a gym or cafeteria until it's their turn to compete.  There's usually a concession stand.  Someone with a mic announces each event and kids have to be listening or they may miss their chance to compete.  The meet lasts all day.  It's organized chaos.

Here's an actual screen shot of my email to B's coach:

Nervous Nelly in the house.

In the end, Ryan and I decided that B would ride the bus with the other kids but that we would pick him up after his event.  Friday night, I laid down with B and we went over what would happen on Saturday.  He asked questions, I answered as best I could.  He was nervous about getting to school on time and not missing the bus.  I promised him I would get him there on time.

Saturday morning, I dropped B off at the elementary school with his backpack full of goodies: iPad, hot spot, pen and paper, snacks and two stuffed minions to help him feel brave.  I noticed parents walking kids in.  I nervously asked B if he wanted me to walk him in.  While I did not still have on my pajamas, I had not done my hair or put on make up. A bunch of other parents were walking kids in and staying in the cafeteria with them.  I did not want to see all these people with no make up!  He said he wanted to go alone.  I watched him go in.  I sat in the car a while wondering what all these people were doing.  I could see a fellow teacher from my school inside so I called him.  No worries, B was fine and I didn't need to come in.

Later in the morning, Ryan and I went to pick B up.  He was still competing.  When he came out one of his teachers asked him how it went he replied "It was a test".  Which it is. They give them situations and they have to pick what move to do next.  I'm not sure he understood this.  I think he thought he'd play chess with someone.  When the teacher asked him how he thought he did on the test he replied, "Probably a 99"

Well, he didn't get a 99.  He didn't even place.  But, he finished!  He started a new activity, went to all the practices and the competition.  All without a meltdown (as far as I know).  This is a first!  And I am so proud of him!

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