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Avoiding Common Mistakes: The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids

Updated: Jun 18

Teaching Kids the Right Way

For over 7 years, I have taught about 700 kids how to play chess. Ranging from ages 5 to 18 in classrooms, small groups, and private lessons. Although I have considered myself to be successful at teaching chess thus far, this is only due in part to the lessons I've learned from the lousy teaching days that I have had where the kids did not learn anything; I taught those bad lessons so you dont have to! Keep reading on to learn how to teach kids how to play chess.

No lectures

Imagine being a student in 2024 who has a million other entertaining things that they would instead do or learn on TikTok. Still, they are forced to sit in on a chess lecture. Actually, don't because you would be just as bored! Chess is not dull; there are hundreds of thousands of chess games to study, many tactics to learn, many variations, etc. The problem is you are being talked to for 30 minutes to an hour about something your parents or teachers are forcing you to learn. As a certified elementary teacher, I can tell you that there are more effective ways of teaching children. Students thrive off of engaging with material utilizing questioning, being hands-on, and productive playing.

Engage students in questioning. 

Adding on to the previous point, not asking your students questions or giving them chess puzzles to solve is a huge mistake. Puzzles are the foundation of any excellent chess lesson because they engage students in challenging activities. Who does not love a puzzle!? Be particular in the difficulty and relevance of the puzzles you give them because there is something called the Zone of Proximal Development: a fancy term for something challenging enough not to make students want to quit but to learn instead (Click the word for a more accurate definition). In addition, asking students questions such as "What do you think about the position?" "Can you explain your move?" "Why do you think a player moved there?" is vital in developing critical thinking pathways in their brains. We love that!

Don't be boring!

It is possible to teach kids how to play chess and keep it simple with just a board and pieces. However, kids have shorter attention spans than ever, so the lesson needs something that makes them want to return. The kids want to play chess, which is a given because chess is fun to them since it sparks curiosity, freedom, and competition. But are you giving them fun examples to relate to? Are you giving them interesting facts about the game? Are you delivering the lessons enthusiastically? Do you have a cool catchphrase such as "All Aboooooooard"? (😉) Doing these things may prevent students from averting from learning chess or continuing their studies! A seasoned teacher once told me, "Give them something to take home!". 


Lecturing kids, not engaging the students in questioning, and being dull are ways not to teach chess to kids. Whether you are a chess teacher or parent, If you want to teach your kids chess, allowing them to reap the innumerable benefits of chess, please follow the advice of this list. However, if you need help teaching your kids chess and want a fun, engaging, professional chess coach, schedule lessons with Chess Express Kids by contacting the home page of our website.

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