This year, the country of Armenia made chess compulsory in schools for all children over six years of age. American educators may not be as gung-ho about early childhood chess – but they should be. In an era where we’re all reasonably concerned about “screen time,” introducing chess to a young child is a gift beyond measure and a classic bonding activity to share with parents, siblings, and grandparents.
What Are The Benefits of Chess For Kids?
A growing body of research shows that learning chess:
- Correlates with higher scores on mathematical and critical reasoning tests.
- Improves reading test scores and proficiency among elementary school-aged children.
- Increases brain activity in areas associated with calculation, concentration, and recognition.
- Boosts IQ scores, overall intelligence, patience, perseverance, intuition, and creative thinking.
- Teaches restraint, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and winning or losing graciously.
When To Start Chess For Kids
It’s understandable that any chess-loving parent would want to share their love of the game with a child as soon as possible, but push too hard too soon and you could spoil it. Surprisingly, educators say babies can begin learning the fundamentals of chess in diapers — as young as two – if taught the right way. Instruction should be fun and casual, with focus on identifying the different pieces and talking about how they move or capture. By age five, simply moving the pieces correctly would be a reasonable goal. By seven or eight, your child could be out-maneuvering you on the chess board!
Chess Sets For Beginners
While you can find Mario World and Star Wars themed chess sets, it’s best to start with a more basic looking set to teach the pieces and the moves without so much distraction. There are countless chess sets aimed at beginners, but we like this one from the MoMA. You may also choose a set like No Stress Chess, which includes activity cards to help young kids learn the game. The Chess Teacher is another large set that is easy for smaller hands to maneuver. For the next level, the Kids’ Book of Chess and Chess Set is geared toward ages 8 and up with colorful fantasy illustrations of beginning, middle, and end game offensive and defensive strategies.
Get Started: Chess Camps in NYC (Ages 3-12)
We’re pleased to announce Chess At 3 will be making regular appearances at Shine camps this summer. Their emphasis on teaching through storytelling helps kids win and lose graciously, and weaves history, math, and physical activity into every brain-building session. They’ve been equipping NYC kids as young as three with life skills and learning tools since 2006, so we’re excited to partner up with them to offer your child even more value. Contact us for details.