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Chess Helps VPK Students Learn Independence Skills

Sindia Aviles always has fun and engaging activities planned for her Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) class. Arguably, one of the class' favorite is playing chess.

"Whoever gets the king wins," said VPK student Isabella.

Isabella is paired up with her classmate Marwa. During the game, they learn how to take turns, add up their points, and try to be good sports.

"I learn the points," said Marwa. "The pawns are one point, the knights are three points, also the queen is nine points, and the king is zero points because he’s the life of the chess board. If you lose him, you lose the game."

Ms. Aviles first introduced the game of chess to her classroom three years ago.

"There’s a lot of skill behind it like social skills, emotionally they have to take turns and creative thinking, problem-solving, counting, graphing," said Ms. Aviles. "We love it, and they enjoy playing it a lot."

It's one of the many ways she tries to sprinkle in learning with something that's fun for all students. Her students also know these skills they are learning now will be useful next year, when they are in Kindergarten.

"I’m going to learn everything that was here, did you know that Kindergarten is actually pre-K?" said Marwa.

The School District of Osceola County's VPK program is open to all children that will be celebrating their fourth birthday before September 1, 2021. The program is free; however, space is limited. To apply, you must first obtain a certificate of eligibility through the family services website (

Once you receive that certificate, you can fill out an application on the school district's website ( After your application is processed, our staff will call or email you to set up an appointment so that we can pair your student with a teacher like Ms. Aviles.

"When students go to VPK, they learn independence skills, and we promote it in a way where we show them all the skills," said Ms. Aviles. "So, when they get to kindergarten, they’re ready. They don’t struggle."

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