Who runs Midwest Chess Academy and how did it get started?
MCA was founded by Tim Steiner, a local Expert who saw an opportunity to bring chess to the masses. He also was motivated by his love for chess and turning on the lightbulb in the minds of children. Mr. Steiner wanted to continue his desire to help people so he now focuses on chess and the community.
How am I able to get MCA to come to my school?
We are currently in the process of making our way around to most schools in the Kansas City area. If you want us in your school quicker then the best way would be to contact us and let us know. The process is made easier if there are a group of parents that want this service. Principals need to know that there is interest out there among the students and parents.
What happens if we already have a chess club?
Nothing changes. Your sponsor or facilitator will continue to be your sponsor and they will continue to hold the weekly chess club meeting. This program is designed to work with existing clubs and sponsors retain full control. MCA is a supplement to already successful club atmospheres.
How does your program work?
When we get an invitation to visit a school and speak with the administrators, we will schedule a free simultaneous exhibition whereby I play as many as 25 students at once. At that time we will have a sign-up sheet and, in general, assess interest for this program. We will than coordinate with school officials and chess sponsor for scheduling classes thereafter. We offer services on a full-time, year-round basis. We work with elementary, middle and high school students. We produce and instruct one, 20 minute lessons per week for an entire semester, before, during or after school. Club will usually last an hour. All lessons will be taught at school facilities or district activity or recreation centers.
Who pays for this educational opportunity?
It depends. There are many avenues to arrange funding, and they are different for each school. Some examples are that the school can work the program into the budget. A PTA or PTO can handle the tuition. Some schools have foundations that support extracurricular activities or special educational services. If your school is a Title I school, possible funding is attainable through government or private foundation grants. Another option is to work with a local business in your area that acts as your sponsor for special projects. However, the most widely accessible form will be for the parent of the interested child to handle tuition. Sponsorship is designed to be affordable. The program is valued at around $100 per child per semester.
How many kids will be taught at once?
Classes will generally range from 10-40 students, but can be more if schools have time conflicts. If a school has more students participating, then more classes will be made available.
What about tournaments?
Tournaments will be scheduled throughout the year by a group called Kansas City Scholastic Chess Association. A link to their website is provided on the Links menu.
Who are some of the other groups we work with?
Including the aforementioned Kansas City Scholastic Chess Association, we also work with The Chess Club. The Chess Club is a unique commercial chess club located in North Kansas City. They host tournaments, give away scholarships, sells general equipment and educational media.
What goals have been set for your program?
Our goals are lofty but obtainable. Our essential goal is to teach children to think critically. We hope to help students achieve local, state, and national recognition for their talents. We hope to get students exposed and active in the scholastic tournament circuit to hone their skills. And perhaps our apex goal is to bring chess into the regular school curriculum. Chess brings out latent abilities that have not been reached by traditional educational means. Chess must assume its fundamental role as a mental integrator and motivational activator.
When will my child become a Grandmaster?
Well, that's a tough question. It's not impossible, for Kansas City has produced a gentleman worthy of such a title. But for general purposes, it is not a practical achievement. Such a goal would be extremely difficult to meet. Any child that could reach Expert and above level should be considered a very fine player indeed. In general, a child's achievements will parallel how hard he or she works on the game. If one were to become serious about the game, it would be very possible, within a reasonable amount of time, to excel at a high level when you have solid direction from a program like MCA. There is a body of theory that states that anyone with an average intelligence, given the right tools and enough time and practice can achieve master level. We believe this wholeheartedly at MCA.
Do we need to buy any books or equipment?
Not for any of the classes. If you so desire, it would be an inexpensive investment to purchase a set for your child. In the near future, our group will be able to provide sets and other equipment at very reasonable costs. Books are not required for these classes, although that would not be a bad idea if you wanted to accelerate your child's progress. However, it should be noted that students that aren't at least high school level do not find interest in reading chess books due to their dry nature and thickness. Therefore, books are not recommended for students 8th grade and below. We take lots of good material from a select list of books anyways. We take out much of the pain of sifting through the vast array of chess books. In the future we will provide a list of recommended reading sources to supplement our classes. Throughout the course we will provide certain handouts here and there to facilitate consumption of the material. We also provide very unique, easy to understand instructional videos. These are highly recommended. Please look under the Products menu.
Do you give homework to the children?
Although MCA does not believe in assigning homework, on occasion throughout the course, we do give out homework that will be reviewed but not graded. We do not administer grades or performance reviews. We have many reasons for not assigning homework, but the best reason is that we do not want to interfere with homework assigned in their core classes. There is only so much time in a day. Paper work for chess is a relatively ineffective way to instruct chess.
What if my child loses interest in the class?
Entirely possible. Maybe your child wants to exit the program mid-semester. These conditions will have to be discussed with the chess sponsor and parent, depending upon how funding for your school is arranged. Although, we do recommend a student stay in the class until its completion, so they will get a taste of an aspect they do enjoy about chess.
What about inclement weather or an instructor is ill?
In these instances, extra weeks will be tacked on to the normally ending schedule, for those days that were missed. We usually leave a little leeway in the schedule to accommodate this circumstance.
What about private lessons?
MCA does offer private lessons in the evening and on the weekend. Space is limited in our instructor's schedule. Lessons will be based on how far away the instructor must travel, how long the lesson is, how many students are taught, and complexity of the lesson. Usually high potential students will sign up for private lessons. Please call for availability of our instructors.
What about the different grade levels? Does everybody get grouped together? Is that appropriate?
Yes, depending on involvement per school, classes will have mixed grades. When the program is firmly established in your school and it can be determined that there are gradations of skill level then we will split up classes accordingly. Please see the three types of groups in the Lesson Plan menu. Of course, the larger the school involvement the more flexible we can be with catering to skill level. Research also indicates that a mixing of grades is healthy, as interaction proves diverse. The older students respond to being challenged to consistently outperform during contests, and the younger kids enjoy being the underdog most times and never having the pressure of expectations. In a majority of cases, the older students will end up helping us teach the younger students.
Is it healthy to promote a competitive activity like chess to children?
Well, we have many theories to answer this question. Yes, this is a competitive activity. However, we want to remind parents that we do not run this program strictly based on competition. We don't promote winning or losing. We promote understanding. Losing isn't necessarily bad or negative. It actually can be used quite effectively. It only provides you an opportunity to learn something you previously didn't know. We do not compare results with other students. Each student's learning curve is unique. Some learn fast, some learn slow, but the main point is that they learn. Secondly, the world is a competitive place. As adults, you know this to be true. Shouldn't we train our children to recognize that the world is a competitive place and learn how to deal with these issues? Shouldn't we attempt to prepare them for what's ahead? Chess can help this transition.
What happens if my child misses a class or two during the semester?
Nothing dramatic. We progress relatively slowly through the courses. Material can be made-up fairly easily. We also do a lot of repetition, so that material is never covered once and that material is gained in chunks. Absences will probably be seamless in their overall education.