How to get STARTED
This extract from a discussion taking place on the BRIDGEWINNERS site nicely highlights a frustrating common problem:
"...Getting bridge included in the curriculum, however, is an entirely different undertaking. I think California's requirements are quite similar to what Peg describes for Minnesota. We have a few people involved who might qualify, but very few.
The problem with after-school programs is that the kids don't play often enough to retain what they learn. (My high school bridge club meets at most every two weeks, often only once every three weeks.) Thus, they don't progress, and they eventually lose interest.
No solutions seem obvious to me. We have managed to introduce quite a large number of kids to bridge, through after-school bridge classes and monthly pizza parties. The number who are still playing the game three or four years later, though, is fairly small."
And here is what I was prompted to post in response:
"Lynn hit the nail right on the head. Not enough children or qualified teachers to keep the practise sessions regular - and often miles from a bridge club or from each other. But there is in fact a solution which I tried successfully in a community of only 70,000. An island where not one of the locals had ever heard of the game of bridge, let alone played it.
I started by persuading a friendly headmaster to let me give a demonstration for ALL children 5 to 11 (in turns) at school. The school then sent out a mail to all the parents of those students to expound the academic benefits of bridge. Meanwhile, I had picked out the mathematically minded (which requires only a five minute test with a pack of cards and a bidding box!) during the initial taster sessions, and gave them a voluntary four week crash course in the lunchbreaks. Never more than 30 minutes per session. A total of no more than 5 hours bridge tuition each. Their rapid progress in that short time was monitored by the school and gained more publicity than I had bargained for. Word got round the entire island that bridge is better than maths in school. To the extent that two other schools asked me to do the same for them. I was ovrwhelmed with young students.
All the ones who started playing bridge saw dramatic improvements in their exam results. Particularly in Maths, but in most other subjects as well. Mainly due to the fact that they are forced to concentrate to retain a competitive edge at the bridge table. In turn, improved concentration, discipline and powers of logic gives them more time to successfully complete their exam papers.
Where possible, I make sure all new pupils (both young and old) have at least four lessons within two weeks of being introduced to the sport of bridge. Enough time to fully outline the entire game. If the kiddies are very young, I show the parents at the same time. Get them through that critical first fortnight, and then you shouldn't lose any students thereafter"
In the second phase of the project – after the cream of the kids were invited to the World Schools Championships in France – I decided to change tack. I taught less at the schools because the popularity of the game meant there was no longer the risk of talented youngsters giving up the game
The ones that were able to, could come to the new ACES club to practise and play competitions alongside the adults in the newly established club. For the others who were isolated, I spent a few hours a day travelling to different parts of the island to teach pupils in their own homes after school. In groups of three or four in the same neighbourhood. This particular routine was effectively a
MOBILE bridge school
It was worth the effort. Because it meant that the parents took an active interest in the game and appreciated its educational benefits.
They would help their kiddies practise at home after I left
And that is where school projects usually fail. i.e. where parents are not invoved or don`t want to be involved. Needless to say,
the mums and dads enjoyed playing the game with their children so much,
they often then joined the club as well