The Right Way

My new book The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids will be published by Right Way Books next Thursday, 20th June.

The book is written for parents and teachers of children of primary school age (up to 11) who would like to help their kids learn chess.

Perhaps the main message of the book is that while you can teach your kids the moves in half an hour and sign them up for the school chess club they won’t get a lot out of it beyond short-term enjoyment.

Here’s your chance to join me and take a look inside. I hope many of you will be sufficiently interested to invest in a copy (and favourable reviews on Amazon are always welcome)!

We start by looking at the what, why, when, how, where and who of chess. What exactly is chess all about? Why should we teach chess to children? At what age should they start, how should they be taught, where should they learn, and who, in particular, will benefit from chess. Regular readers of my articles will not be surprised that I am sceptical about the value of teaching chess to very young children, and prefer, for younger children, slower methods of introducing the game.

We then look at chess, boys and girls, and consider why most chess players are male. Then we look at chess and special needs, considering how chess can be used within schools to help children with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and Asperger Syndrome.

Chess in Primary Schools considers the role chess can play there, and discusses the different services schools could offer: lessons for beginners, facilities for casual play and intermediate level tuition for children who would like to play competitively.

The next section looks at cross-curricular links, and explains how schools can link chess to different subjects in the school curriculum.

Finding a Chess Teacher does just that, providing advice for parents or schools looking for a chess teacher. A teacher for a class of beginners in school will need a different skill set from a tutor working with an ambitious child at home.

If you want your children to do well at chess you’ll need to play chess with them at home, and also help them solve puzzles on a regular basis. The next two chapters explain how to do this successfully.

This book follows the same curriculum as Chess for Kids and chessKIDS academy, and the following chapter looks at how parents can use the book and the website to help their children learn chess.

Before moving on to how to play and teach the game itself we look briefly at the important subject of chess etiquette and sportsmanship.

So you, as a parent or teacher, have decided you’d like your kids to learn chess, but are they really ready for it? The next chapter looks at the skills your kids will need to have acquired before learning the game. There is much you’ll need as well: equipment, furniture and so on, as you’ll find out in the following chapter.

One of the main justifications for teaching chess to kids is that it ‘makes you smarter’. I’m sure it does, but there will be far more benefit if it’s taught correctly. We now consider 18 different cognitive skills that can be trained and tested using chess. It works both ways: if you consider these skills when you’re learning chess you’ll play chess better, and if you play chess well you’ll develop a wide range of transferable cognitive skills. But if you learn the moves in half an hour and play random low-level games you’ll get little or none of these.

There are many who believe that non-cognitive skills are more valuable than cognitive skills, and in the next chapter we consider nine non-cognitive skills which can be developed through chess. Again, if you’re playing serious competitive chess you are more likely both to require and to develop these skills.

At this point we reach the half-way stage in the book. The reader is now armed with a lot of background information, but if you want to teach your children chess you need to know something about the game yourself. Many parents only have a fairly sketchy idea about the rules, so they’re advised to read the next chapter to ensure they’re up to speed about en passant, castling and pawn promotion.

You need to know more than the rules to teach your children successfully, though. The next chapter is a brief guide to understanding the logic of chess: the first stage towards being able to play a good enough game to teach in a meaningful way.

The next part of the book is the outline of a course for children. It’s basically the same course used on chessKIDS academy and in Chess for Kids, and the chapters represent the pages on the website. The same course can be found in more detail along with worksheets in my free downloadable book Journey Through Chess.

The final part of the book tells you what to do if your children want to take chess beyond the basics. There are sections on joining a club and playing in tournaments, followed by a Resources section with recommendations for books, software, DVDs and websites.

You can order the book from any good bookshop in the UK or online through Amazon or elsewhere.

Richard James

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About Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard is currently the Curriculum Consultant for Chess in Schools and Communities (www.chessinschools.co.uk) as well as teaching chess in local schools and doing private tuition. He has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966 and currently has an ECF grade of 177.