Monday, April 6, 2015

Teaching My Preschooler to Play Chess (The Benefits of Chess)

     "You have to have the fighting spirit. You have to force moves and take chances." - Bobby Fischer

     The educational value of chess is unmatched by any other game! Numbers, letters, grids, royal positions, strategy, math, and the list goes on and on.

     My husband and I love chess.  We find joy and beauty in it.  There is something very special about a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master.  There is art in the strategy and respect in the intellect.  It really is an amazing game.
We are excited that Marley has reached an age where we can start teaching her how to play.  And she is very excited to learn, especially since one of her favorite parts from Harry Potter is Wizard's Chess.  Chess flexes so many brain muscles and is a fun game to play once you have it down.

     Some ways chess enhances intelligence:
  • Memory - Each time you play, you are getting better at the game; remembering how players react to your moves and so forth.
  • Brain exercise - You are using both the logical and creative parts of the brain.
  • Strategy - Chess teaches you to know your opponent and plan for proceeding moves.  You improve your problem solving skills.
  • Math - You learn to visualize geometric shapes in the moves of pieces and to utilize numbers and grids.
  • Concentration - There is focus and meditation involved in chess.
  • Confidence & Integrity - The more you play, the more you adjust to being a winner and a loser. You begin to enter into competition with a more mature attitude towards various results. 

     And here is a great link for teaching kids: TEACH KIDS TO PLAY CHESS.
     This is the chess set we have.  Inexpensive, portable, and magnetic!  We love it.
     The first step (after getting a chess board, of course) in teaching a young child how to play is for them to learn the names of the pieces.
     The second step is to show them how to set up the board.
Here is a helpful image for Chess setup.

     The third step is to allow them to observe an actual game while indicating the BASIC RULES.  My husband and I played a game while Marley watched.  Every once in a while, I would say "Watch this Marley.  I'm going to move my Bishop to this spot, but watch what happens next." And then my husband would take my Bishop.  Marley made a sad face and said, "Hey! Why are you taking Mommy's pieces?  That's not nice Daddy."  It was pretty funny!  But we explained to her that it was part of the game and that I am not upset when he takes my pieces.  A little lesson on being a good sport.
     The final step is practice, practice, practice.  After our game was finished, Marley was excited to play a game.  She does not know how to play yet, so I would remind her of her options in moving pieces.  Her favorite piece was the Queen, because "The Queen can move anywhere she wants."  Haha.  Sort of. She made lots of errors and I set up the game so that she won, but I won't let her win the next one. ;)  Then I let Marley play chess with her sister, without any reminders or instruction.  That was quite an interesting game. Hahaha.
     We will continue to play and practice together.  The key is to make sure it is fun while educating.
     Marley had a great time and asked if we could play chess every day. The request made me happy, but probably not every day. ;)