Leah Martin Dagher


How to Make Chess Interesting for Kids (without losing your cool)

My book, “Classroom Chess: The Primary Teacher’s Handbook,” offers a handy guide on how to make chess interesting for kids. 

However, suppose you still wish to teach children away from a classroom setting. In that case, there are similar principles in my book you can still apply.

Some of these handy tips include:

  1. Be patient.

Chess requires learning a new set of rules which can be overwhelming for new players. If you’re teaching children in any setting, it helps to avoid discussing complex concepts and tactics. Instead, give them a chance to practice hands on with a board and pieces so they can gradually understand their moves.

  1. Set parameters.

Keeping a consistent schedule encourages learning time. Whether the schedule is weekly or daily, setting up routines can help kids get into the groove of actually starting to play. More is better, but don’t overdo it.  You can also use my book on Amazon as a tool for lesson planning and helping to keep things on track.

  1. Encourage independent study.

Giving your group or child some time to learn things on their own can help them become more independent in the future. You can use my  links to resources and online game sites which are kid-friendly so they can understand what it’s like to play against another person or chess-playing computer!

  1. Make chess a social activity.

Chess is, first and foremost, a skills game. To help your child make consistent progress, establish a time and place to play chess. Consider getting them their first chess set and encourage them to join a chess club.

  1. Celebrate achievements.

Celebrating progress through achievements boosts a child’s morale. This step also encourages children to continue their progress, thus making it easier for them to achieve several milestones. Signed recognition certificates, i.e., “most Improved Chess Player, Good Sport Chess Player, Outstanding Tournament Participant, and the like are always appreciated.

One year I printed out entire tournament histories of students who played multiple chess tournaments and gave it to them as a token of their hard work. They all felt very proud of themselves, (even the ones who had only ventured to play in one or two tournaments.)

Chess is a game that requires patience for beginners. For teachers new to chess, it helps to prepare by using the many resources available in my book; Classroom Chess: A Primary Teacher’s Handbook. Once your class gets used to the prerequisites of setting up the board, playing and replaying moves, and ending the game with a routine, you’ll find them looking forward to the next lesson.

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