Kids play chess all over the world!
Chess is being played all over the world, by kids! Offered in classroom teaching, in after-school clubs, in competitions. A couple of countries have even made it mandatory in school curricula. Kids are gaining life skills from chess beyond just knowing how to play the game.
I have never really learned to play the game of chess well. I know the objective of the game and how each game piece is allowed to move. Beyond that, I stumble into good moves, accidentally blocking something big from the opponent, acting like I know what I am doing, but in reality I have no clue.
Chess, to me, was an adult game. The strategy and complicated rules seem to be too much for little minds to grasp. And, quite honestly, the only people I knew way-back-when who played chess were on the nerdy-super-smart side.
But it turns out I have been wrong (my husband enjoys my writing those words!).
The US Chess Federation (USCF) has reported that membership of those under 15 has soared ten-fold from 1990 to 2001 – from 3,000 to 35,000.
Research is Conclusive: Chess Helps Kids Learn
According to Dr. Peter Dauvergne from the University of Sydney, chess is an especially effective teaching tool. It can equally challenge the minds of girls and boys, gifted and average, athletic and non-athletic, rich and poor.
It can teach children the importance of planning and the consequences of decisions. Further, it can teach how to concentrate, how to win and lose gracefully, how to think logically and efficiently, and how to make tough and abstract decisions.
Surprisingly, elementary school age is about the right time to start to play. “I’ve had mixed results when teaching kindergartners and first-graders, but by second grade, they’re all ready,” says Tom Brownscombe, scholastic director of the U.S. Chess Federation.
Although your grand may not want to make it a go-to hobby, or be in a chess club, or enter competitive tournaments, all of the benefits of learning and playing chess still hold.
And it’s a game that is relatively inexpensive to get into!
Making Chess Part of Your Grandparenting Strategy
All of this is remarkable to me, as I am still recovering from a recent Candyland walloping by my 6-year old grand! Imagine that starting in a year or two she would be able to understand, even get really good at, a game like chess. These little kid-sponges will surprise us IF we give them a chance.
So if chess is your thing, or if like me you know enough to at least teach an 8-year old how to move the pieces around the board, jump in! Play a game or two. You never know where a focused hour or two will lead.
It might be the checkmate you’ve been looking for to get closer to that little one! (I know, I know – chees-y chess lingo; couldn’t help myself!)
Tools for the Game
Want to learn how to play chess? You and the Grands can use this site to learn the basics and even play a game or two. PLUS it gives you all the chess terminology so you will sound ever-so-informed! (Parental help needed to register the child on the site.)
Want to play online with grands who already know how to play? Try the free app, Chess With Friends. If you are familiar with the Words With Friends app, this is the same, only it’s chess. This is a great way to stay engaged with grands who live nearby or far away! (Parental permission needed as it is an app that will require a smartphone or iPad to play.)