Your little one has shown interest for the fine…great…fabulous…SPECTACULAR game of chess! Now you need to find out how to saturate their needs…
Welcome to the (chess) jungle!
(at least many of my older readers would get that reference…)
What does your child want?
First off, let’s have a look at what your little one actually wants.
Have they just heard or seen that some of their best friends play chess? That might just be enough for them to want to try it out.
They may have little to no idea whether they’re going to like the game or not, but they tell you they want to join a chess club nonetheless.
Sometimes – and I guess you might argue quite often – kids will feel insecure when it comes to deciding what they actually want or how they feel about a certain thing.
In this case, you might want to go for a light approach, and just play some games at home with them. Some kids will instantly feel a rush from playing, while others will be more like “ehh, I don’t really see what all the fuzz is about…”
If the latter, then – and I say this even though I want ALL kids to play chess – there are tons of other hobbies for them to enjoy. I want them to play chess, but whatever makes them happy, right? (they can cry over the spilt milk later in life…)
They love the game!
This is where I tell my students (and by ‘students’, I mean my grown up course participants (I have done a lot of courses for primary and middle school teachers who want to teach their pupils chess)) that you pretty much can’t go wrong!
Give kids who love the game, a board and some space and time to explore the 64 squares and what you can do on them. It’s amazing to see kids with their newfound love for the game go deep into the tank with all the possibilities the pieces offer!
How do I support them, then…?
Although, you might not actually need to do much, but at the same time it’s kind of essential that you do! If you want to see what my dad meant to me, just read about it here.
First and foremost, you need to show interest for what they’re doing. Kids love when their parents take part in something they love doing themselves! And this goes for any grown-up around the kid: As a teacher I’ve had so many kids come up to me eagerly wanting to display their latest doing, or tell me about what they managed at practice.
I showed – and show all the time – interest in what they do! And it means the world to them, so just be sure to stay positive and speak in a warm fashion about what they like to do.
Secondly – if you haven’t already – you will need to get a proper chess board. With time you will have to get some other accessories as well (kids love playing with a chess clock), and whatever you need, there are many online shops that will have the exact thing you’re looking for. You can look for cool chess pieces and boards, fascinating books, interesting looking games or training software. I have done many reviews, and just click the links to read my thoughts on these.
Thirdly, as time goes by, you want to consider signing up for a local kids’ chess club. Most cities will have at least one, and even my small home town has several.
This is where they will meet likeminded and encouraging kids, and they will love it. I know I did!
Which are the best learning tools?
First of all, the local chess club will be the best place for them to start off. And there are many reasons for this:
- They will get instructions from a local chess teacher, who is likely to having played the game themselves for many years.
- They will experience wins and losses differently to sitting in front of a computer.
- And I can’t really stress this enough: Chess is great way to learn how to handle adversity. They will most likely have their heart broken in more than one game (I know I did!), but they will always want to fight through it and get that next game started. This is not always easy to do, but chess will do it in such a way that your kid will grow as a person.
- And last, but certainly not least: They get to play with other kids!
In this day and age, you probably also want to introduce your child to digital learning assets. One site which offers a great deal of learning tips for a child, is chess.com. If you sign up with them and go to “More” and then “Resources”, you will right away find “Chess for kids”. They will love this!
Is chess valuable for kids?
Through many different studies done over the course of many years, chess has been shown to enhance the test group’s abilities compared to the control group. This goes for mathematics and problem solving skills, and improvement of cognitive skills in general.
And there are many other aspects as well, like planning (your next move or moves), overcome obstacles, learning how to face adversity, and sitting still and concentrating on one thing! Nowadays, that seems to be almost an impossible task for most kids, as they need instant gratification. A lot of this can be assigned to video games, our smartphones, and other ‘tech stuff’.
For all these reasons, I am to this very day, so glad I learnt chess at an early age, and stuck with it! I have never regreted my decision, and I will be able to pursue this hobby for the rest of my life! (and I intend to cross the 100 year-mark, so I have quite some time left…)
What are you waiting for?
If you have a little girl or boy who eagerly wants to give chess their best go, there is pretty much no reason why they shouldn’t get the opportunity to do so. I hope and think I’ve made my own thoughts on the matter pretty clear through this blog, and I hope you find it valuable.
At the bottom of this blog you can watch a video introduction to the kids’ course at chess.com.
If your offspring shows interest in this (in my humble opinion) great game, and by chance, it was because of this blog you decided to let them try it out, let me know how it turns out. I would love to having helped you with some guidance on how to get your kid started with chess.
Any other thougths or questions are of course also much welcome, so please feel free to drop them below!
All the best,