Teaching Chess to Young Kids
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There are many stigmas surrounding the game of chess – that it’s a game only “smart people” can play, that it’s boring and complicated, but we at ChessMatec are here to disprove these prejudices! We changed the game and made it colorful, fun and exciting!
So, you might be asking yourself – is it even possible to teach Chess to young kids?Teaching chess to a young child is of course possible but should be done carefully. The game of chess is fascinating, varied and contributes a lot to the development of thinking, but if taught incorrectly - may deter the child for many years and that is a pity! Therefore, do not rush!
So, where should you start?
A good point to start with is by playing "pre-chess" games with your kids – meaning playing games only with certain pieces on the board so that your child can understand the strategies associated with each different piece.
Here are examples to some of the pre-chess games you can play with your child:
1. The Memory Game
This game is a good way to teach the Starting Position and Play. First set up the chess board for the Starting Position, then have your child close their eyes while you change up the placement
of certain pieces or take them off the board. Then you tell your child to open their eyes and have them try to find the missing piece or rearrange the pieces back to their original placement. Once your child learns the starting positions, you can start playing with him without any rules - every player takes their turn and plays according to imaginary rules. Slowly, and by playing along to the ChessMatec App puzzles, your child will start playing a real game!
2. The Pawn Game
Set up the board only with the pawns. Each player takes their turn (whites start first), and the objective of the game is to be the first one to get one of their pawns to the other side of the board. Playing with only the pawns on the board is supposed to teach the child that they might a weak and small piece when they are standing by themselves, but together they are a force to be reckoned with! When the pawns protect each other, they can’t be beaten.
3. The Wolf & the Sheep Game
In order to play the Wolf and Sheep game, you first need to tell your kid the story: “Once upon a time there were 8 sheep (use the white pawns). One day, their mom (The Queen) told the sheep that she was going to the store to buy some milk, but before she left she warned the little sheep not to go outside under any circumstances, and not to open the door to anyone! Nevertheless, when the evil wolf (the black Rook) knocked on the door and changed his voice to make it sound like the Mommy Sheep, the little sheep opened the door. The wolf entered the house immediately and started to put the little sheep into his sack.
The sheep started to run away and head for their Mommy. If just one of the sheep could get to the other side, where the store was, and call to their Mom, everyone would be saved! If the wolf managed to grab all the sheep before one got to the other side, however, he would win”.
The wolf moves first and travels like a rook and tries to eat the sheep. The sheep travel forwards like a pawn and can eat the wolf diagonally.
Kids always learn better when the material is taught to them through a colorful fairy-tale story. The game of the Wolf and the Sheep will help you teach your child the movement of the pieces and will also support their strategic thinking.
4. The Officers Only Game
Set the Chess board up with every piece but the pawns, and have the kids play chess against each other using just the first line of pieces. The objective of the game is to be the first to eat all the opponent’s pieces. In this game the pieces don’t have different values or meanings from each other, meaning even if your opponent “eats” your King, the game isn’t over, and you can keep playing!
When young kids learn how to play Chess, they sometimes forget to use the Officer pieces and end up only playing with their Pawns, since they are “first in line”. Through the game of Officers Only, kids practice using each of the other pieces and learn their different movements and strategies without being “interrupted” by the pawns.