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How to Teach Kids to Play Chess

Updated on February 21, 2016
Getting interested
Getting interested

Chess is Great, but...

Many parents agree that teaching their children chess is a good idea. For starters, it teaches them to think strategically, develops their concentration, and keeps them away from TV. So to reap maximum benefits, it makes sense to start them young, maybe in kindergarten or first grade. Most young kids would jump at the chance to do something fun with their parents, so it should be easy. Right?

Wrong. The problem is that most young kids don't like playing chess. It isn't because the chess moves are hard to learn. Nor is it because they'd rather be watching Ben 10 or Dora the Explorer. The problem is that it isn't fun. The outcome of the game depends completely on brainpower, and their brains just aren't developed enough to compete with mom or dad. They can't win unless their parents let them. How fun is that?

Why Chess is Good for Kids

Chess sounds like a nerdy game for brainiacs only. But it isn't. The moves aren't hard to learn, and working with your kids might be the first thing that teaches them how to concentrate on an objective. Not a bad thing. Advantages include:

  • Your kids learn how to think strategically, which will help them throughout their lives in many different scenarios
  • If they join a chess club, they will become socialized and interact with other smart kids
  • Chess develops memory and concentration skills
  • Their confidence will increase: most other kids think highly of chess players
  • Chess is timeless, a gift that will keep on giving for your child's entire life.

In short, an appreciation of chess can only help your kids and could become a lifelong asset that helps them both at work and socially. Why not give it a try?

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Making Chess Fun

But there is a way to get around this: No Stress Chess, made by Winning Moves Games. The idea is to introduce an element of chance to the game, which makes the outcome less predictable. No-Stress Chess does this with instructive cards, one for each type of piece. Players can only move a piece if they have the corresponding card, which conveniently explains how the piece moves.

Initially, each player holds three cards, which drastically limits the number of moves you can make. This gives your child a fighting chance to win fair-and-square. Your child can take bold risks that in regular chess would result in total annihilation. As your child becomes more sophisticated, you can increase the number of cards held, and therefore, the number of playing options, until he or she is ready to drop the cards altogether.

The beauty of this learning system is that:

  • The child learns at his or her own pace
  • Kids can beat their parents, which makes it a lot of fun
  • The game can be made increasingly difficult as their skills develop
  • You can spend quality time with your child
  • They never become intimidated by the game.

There are also advantages for the parents: you can play it when you're brain-dead after a hard day at work, a game doesn't take very long to finish, and it's actually fun for grown-ups. Best of all, you can tell your friends and colleagues that you play chess with your kid, which will make you look more intellectual.

The game is recommended for ages seven or older, but in practice, younger children can handle it. Overall, it's a great way to teach your kids a game that has been around for thousands of years, and which will be around for thousands more.


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I love playing chess, and fortunately, some of my kids do as well. And with all the great apps for smart phones, I can play by myself while I wait in line.

      Thanks for writing. Great article.