“As proved by evidence, [chess is] more lasting in its being and presence than all books and achievements; the only game that belongs to all people and all ages; of which none knows the divinity that bestowed it on the world, to slay boredom, to sharpen the senses, to exhilarate the spirit.” – Stefan Zweig

When you think of a child having fun, the image that comes to mind probably isn’t one where they are studying a chess board. However, it is entirely possible - and even likely! - for a child to have fun while learning the age-old game of strategy. In fact, some schools in the USA have begun implementing chess clubs as a way to help their students grow, with great success.

So, what are the benefits of chess for kids (or adults!) and what are the best methods to keep learning fun?

Chess for beginners
High focus and increased observation skills together make you a better and more rounded chess player | Image Source: scoutlife.org
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Why Learn To Play Chess?

Trying to learn chess because you “should,” or because “it’s what smart people do” is not enough motivation to stay interested. More than anything, the learner needs to be able to find at least a few aspects of the game to be very intriguing and interesting. For kids, this means having a fun time and feeling good while learning. For parents, it means knowing what skills are being fostered by their child’s learning chess.

Boosts Brain Power

The most compelling reason to invest in your child’s chess education is for the cognitive-enhancing effects playing the game regularly can have on their developing brain. Not only can chess help your child think in novel ways and improve their ability to focus for sustained periods of time, but it could also potentially lower the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s in the long run.

Just as sports improve your child’s physiology and how their body responds to exercise, chess improves the brain. Given that it keeps the brain occupied, chess can also be an effective way of reducing symptoms of anxiety, so it can potentially be a great remedy for the restless mind.

Improves Problem-Solving Skills

To be successful as a chess player, one of the things you need to be able to do well is to think fast on your feet. You need to adapt to the other player’s moves in real-time and stay one step ahead of them, always thinking about what your next move will be. As such, a child working on their chess game with a private tutor is going to work on their problem-solving skills which can help them in all facets of life.

Learning to navigate difficulties on the chessboard can help your child know how to develop solutions to real-world problems as well. Working on problem-solving skills through a fun game such as chess is one of the best things a child can do outside of school to boost their development.

Teaches Emotional Resilience

Chess is a black-and-white game, literally and in the sense that there is a clear winner and loser after every game. Barring the occasional stalemate, your child will have to get used to both victory and defeat.

While you might not want your child to grow an overinflated sense of ego from winning all the time or suffer a hit to their self-esteem with repeated defeats, growing accustomed to both winning and losing can do them a world of good. Your child will hopefully learn how to be humble in victory and graceful in defeat, which will set them up well later in life.

young chess player
Chess can be fun and exciting for children to play. | Image source: Michal Vrba on Unsplash

How to Make Learning Chess Interesting

Every learner is unique. Whether they be young or senior, true beginner or an old hand, there are techniques and angles of approach to appeal to each student.

Making the learning experience fun and interesting is crucial for the student to stay engaged and effectively learn the lessons being taught. Furthermore, if the experience of learning chess is not pleasurable, it can become a source of stress, causing more harm than good.

Ensure that your child reaps all the benefits of learning chess by incorporating these concepts.

Positive Reinforcement is Key

In essence, positive reinforcement means praising your child for the things they do well, in the hope that they continue to do them and feel good about themselves. It also means ensuring that most, if not every, chess encounter promote feelings of fun, safety, support, and growth. Giving praise for deploying some newly-learned chess strategies or a defensive maneuver will increase the student’s confidence in their abilities.

It’s probably very tempting to scold them or abruptly correct them to make sure they don’t repeat any mistakes, but this approach isn’t going to help them in the long run. Too much pressure and discipline may condition them to play well, but you will likely cause them to resent the game.

At the same time, too much praise might instill undue confidence that can be broken when playing a new opponent. Ideally, you want to keep things light and positive without praising every single move they make. Try to ensure that they rebound from mistakes in a positive way, so that whatever they do they feel like they’ve made some kind of progress or at least learned a valuable lesson. Since losing is a normal part of the game, it’s important to normalise it in your child’s mind.

Cater to Your Child’s Preferences

Chess is a cerebral activity that requires logical skills and astute decision-making - but it’s still a game. As such, your child will learn to love it if they see it as such. Yes, there are a lot of cognitive benefits to learning chess for kids, but first and foremost you need to make sure your child is invested in the game so that they can enjoy it. That will mean different things for different people.

For some, a hands-on approach in which you guide them through various moves and strategies will be the best for keeping things fun. For others, perhaps online chess for kids resources such as videos will help keep the game engaging and enjoyable. Find what works best for your kid, and if you’re unsure, ask them how they would like to learn.

If your child is already logically-minded and enjoys subjects like maths then they will be able to put their skills into practice by noticing patterns in chess moves on the board and raising their cognitive ceiling. If they are more creatively-minded, then they will be addressing a potential weakness by taking to the chessboard and using their imagination to visualise the various moves and formulate strategies.

children learning chess
Chess is a great opportunity for children to learn how to interact with others. | Source: Pixabay.com

Make It Fun!

Instead of using strictly formal, dense teaching techniques and vocabulary, make learning chess a game in itself. It’s more likely to be enjoyable, especially for younger kids, if you can explain the concepts with a storyline, maybe even with characters and voices! Getting a laugh is a great way to guarantee lasting interest.

You can even get a chess set or two that are visually interesting or use your child’s favorite movie characters as pieces on the board. It may even be easier for your child to learn the function of the pieces if they have familiar names and faces.

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Manikandan
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Aravindan
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Palak
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Srivarshan
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Tejas
4.8
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Sidharth
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Soumen
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4.9 (52 reviews)
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Ajith
5
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Basics to Teach to Children

Now that you have some tips on how to approach chess as a teaching subject, let’s get into some practical strategies for teaching the board game to your child.

Get Familiar with the Board

The first thing you’ll want to do is introduce your child to the game by showing them the board. When you have the chessboard out and they’re done examining it, explain how it has eight rows that go across and eight columns that are vertical. Tell them how each square on the board corresponds to a letter and a number, perhaps even making a drawing of the board together and labeling the squares together. To drill this point home, you can test them by placing a pawn on a square and asking them what letter and number it is in.

Explain the Pieces

Now it’s time to go through the various pieces, taking the time to let your child play around with them and hold each in their hands. Start with the pawn, describing how they are one of the least and most important pieces at the same time, and how they can only move forward unless they are taking an opposition piece. Then, move on to the bishops, knights, rooks, queen, and king.

If you are using a non-standard chess set, try calling each piece King Mickey Mouse, Queen Minnie Mouse, Knight Goofy, etc, for example. This way your child will understand the traditional names away from their home chess set.

learning chess online
Fun and interesting chess sets can make learning even easier. | Source: PIxabay.com

Basic Strategy

Depending on your knowledge of the game, teach your child some basic strategy. To do so, you can simulate a normal game but take the time to explain in detail why you’re making each move and what it means for the bigger picture. Of course, you should be open to questions at this point, since the chances are if this is your child’s first time seeing a chessboard they will have many going through their head. After you’ve gone over the board, pieces, and some basic strategy, you can put their newfound knowledge to the test by playing a practice game and seeing how they get on. One of the best ways to pick up a game or skill, after all, is to make mistakes and learn from them.

Finding a Chess Tutor

If you yourself have the knowledge, time, and energy to teach your child chess, then being your child’s tutor is a great way to bond. However, if you find that your child is ready for more challenging chess coaching, or if you don’t have the ability to teach them yourself, it may be time to enlist outside help.

Superprof

Here on Superprof, you can find chess coaching near me easily. Coaches are available according to your specific needs, and you can be assured that your child learns safely in your own home.

Game or Hobby Shops

Many game shops hold their own game nights or leagues for community involvement. While you’re also likely to find groups playing card games like Magic: The Gathering, you’ll also find people who are interested in games of logic, like chess.

Your child can learn from peers, and you may even find members who are willing to be a tutor as well.

Clubs or Societies

Your child’s school or a local youth program may already have established chess clubs. If not, there may be another program in your area that encourages children to learn chess. Check for these local resources for in-person learning.

Learn chess online in India
Utilize the internet for more chess-learning resources. | Source: careers360.com

Online Resources

The internet chess community proves that there are millions of people worldwide who can’t get enough of the board game. From courses to kids chess games, tutorials to chess lessons for kids, the internet can teach your child to play chess from start to finish. Here are some of the top online resources for helping your child get to grips with the basics and more advanced concepts of chess:

  • Chess Kid
  • Chess Academy for Kids
  • Chess Kids

There is never a bad time to learn a new skill. Introducing your child to the world of chess is a fantastic idea that is sure to have lifelong positive effects - even if they don’t stick with it! Of course, you can always begin learning chess yourself if you’ve been dreaming of a day when you can confidently declare “Checkmate!”

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Bryanna

As a writer, I believe words can express emotions. When you write the right words, you can connect with people. My hobbies are yoga, writing and listening to music.