I sit facing my two oldest children who are the grand ages of 5 and 7. I pick up my bishop and take one of their pawns. A sense of victory tinged with guilt. I don’t want to walk all over them but it feels good to win. I am learning how to play chess with my kids.
Have you ever thought of playing chess with your kids? I know, it sounds rather complicated, but actually it’s an awesome game.
I am not the world’s best chess player.
Scratch that! I am a very basic chess player and if I were to play anyone above the age of 5, they would probably win.
OK, I’ll admit it.
My 7 year old normally beats me.
The kids think this is great because they know they stand a chance of beating me.
Quite a big chance really.
Not only is chess great fun…
(I’m all for playing with your kids, it’s a great way to connect with them, but let’s be honest, how many rounds of “happy families” and “snap” do you really enjoy?)
Not only is chess great fun, it’s also fantastic to help those little brains grow in great ways. It helps develop all sorts of skills that help your kids grow into “all round awesome, fantastical people who will be happy and successful”.
That’s what we all want right?
(That’s not a “FACT”…that’s my explanation.)
There are heaps of publications that say that chess is great for adults and kids. Don’t worry! You don’t have to read them all. I’ve put the general gist here.
Benefits of Playing Chess with Your Kids
1. Chess helps you Concentrate
It’s a reasonably long and involved game. My kids love it so much, they get so involved. You can see the gears whirring, the clogs ticking. The brain being exercised.
2.Chess Develops Problems Solving Skills
What happens if you put your pawn there? Is mummy likely to take it with her queen? How do you get to your ultimate goal of killing your opponents king?
I’m always surprised when I’m busy concentrating on a little pawn when suddenly my king is under attack.
My kids are good at attacking!
3. Chess Improves Your Memory
Just remembering how all the pieces move is enough to stretch my memory. There are heaps of other moves that you can read up on as well.
4. Playing Chess Uses both sides of Your Brain
Chess is a great 3D game and exercises both parts of your brain. As we get older we focus more on one side, the left side and let our right side of the brain get lazy. The more we use both sides of the brain, the better. Brains need to be used and exercised to function at their maximum capacity.
5. Playing Chess Can Raise Your IQ.
Clever people play chess. FACT.
6. Chess Teaches Planning and Fore Sight
To start with, it's enough to work out how each piece moves. After a few games, your kids will be planning their grand attack strategy. They'll also start to think about whether their pieces are going to come under attack when they move them into a new place.
7. Chess Helps with Strategy Thinking
As they progress, they'll start to see that for each move there are several possible things that they COULD do. But they're only allowed to make one move. So they'll start to think through the possible out comes of each move and decide which strategy is best.
8. Chess Improves Your Attention Span
When you’re involved and enjoying something, you’re more likely to concentrate for longer. Do that frequently and you’ll soon improve your attention span.
And the attention span of your kids.
9. Chess Improves Reading Skills
A study in 1991 looked at reading performance in elementary schools and compared it with children who didn’t play chess. The kids who played chess were above the national average for reading skills (and they were from a district that overall was below the national average.) I’m sure it’s just to do with getting all those bits of your brain working.
10. Chess Increases Creativity.
Creativity is linked with the right side of your brain. Chess helps your children to come up with original, creative thoughts.
See? All those benefits just from playing a game.
The best part of all these brain-inducing benefits of playing chess is that they just come naturally. You just play chess and have fun. You don’t need to worry about the benefits, it’s not like sitting down to study a book.
Chess is Good for Adults too!
And (whispers quietly) yep, it’s great for your kids, but it’s also great for you! As adults, we are so stuck in what we do, it’s great to give our brains a mental work out, to keep it exercising. There was a study that said that people over 75 who played games like chess were less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.
Play More Chess with Your Kids
Playing chess is great fun and it’s not difficult.
We’re aiming to play chess once a week. When we’re a bit more competent, I think we’ll have a chess tournament.
You don’t have to be the world champion to enjoy chess. ANOTHER FACT.
I move my queen into a space, ready to pounce on a “prawn”. A second later, Galen has whisked it away and replaced it with his own pawn.
“Why did you move it there mummy? Didn’t you think about our pawn taking you?”
Perhaps I could do with thinking a bit more about “planning and fore sight” myself.
Not to worry, their collective age is only 12. I’m sure I can beat a 12 year old at chess…
Perhaps I could if I didn’t have a toddler poking my now dead queen into my ear and rearranging all my pieces for me.
I wonder if playing chess helps with “being a super calm, tranquil and incredibly patient mother” as well?
Some Chess Things to Get You Started
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