Chess Learning Special by: Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick. Editing by William Stewart
Can one teach a child to play chess while they’re still in diapers?
Children can learn chess very early, some as early as two years old! The key is to teach them at the correct speed for them. It will vary from child to child, so the educator must be alert to the subtle indicators that a child is ready to continue on to the next subject.
It is important not to thrust all six pieces into a young child’s hands, explaining to him or her how they each move in a few minutes. Unfortunately, that’s how many children are taught and that might just be why some lose interest quickly! It’s too much for most young (or old) children to grasp in one sitting.
Instead it is a good idea to break up the lessons into segments, isolating the game into component parts. Chess Is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques That Work! starts with the rook and goes over its movements in great detail.
Why start with a rook?
Honestly when I first began teaching children chess I started with the pawn. It seemed logical at the time, but I quickly realized that this was a mistake. The pawn is one of the most complex pieces, so it should be taught last. The rook’s movements are the easiest to grasp.
When breaking down all the aspects of a piece’s movements, there are many baby steps that can be applied. It’s much easier to learn these skills using just one piece on the board.
Why tackle chess at such an early age?
If we all teach children to play chess when they’re four or five, they will be primed for school. Chess teaches children many fundamentals, like problem solving, focus, patience and follow through.
Imagine if every child was equipped with these skills as they entered kindergarten and first grade. They would embrace learning in a different way. Ideally schools would pick up on the trend and include chess in their curriculum. However, even if the schools didn’t teach the game and a child only played at home, he or she would have an advantage over non-chess playing students.Studies show that chess helps children improve test scores in many subjects – math, science, reading, etc. Children do better in school when they study chess.
Children are naturally drawn to chess. If they are taught properly, and not rushed through the basics, they want to play and improve. Then they often want to teach other children (or even adults) to play.
Don’t be intimidated to teach your kidsSometimes parents can be intimidated by chess. Perhaps they were taught the rules too quickly and never quite grasped them. These parents sometimes feel that a child must be a genius in order to pick up chess and play a game. This isn’t the case. Anyone can learn to play and the fact is that chess helps children become smarter.
Tackling this problem, Chess Is Child’s Play teaches the parent to play, while teaching them to teach their child. Even a parent who has never seen a chess set can pick up this book and teach their children.
If every parent introduced their children to chess before they started school and then continued to play with them at home a few nights a week, it would complement their children’s studies tremendously, giving them advantage in life!