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Dear chessfriends,Any advice on learning chess to a three and a half years old boy.I am the proud father of that boy, and I would like to introduce him on our world.Obviously, not in a competitive way, I just want to use chess as a tool to improve some of his skills.My first lesson, a couple of days ago was dedicated to have a look to the chess board and to the pieces.We spent some time counting clear and dark squares. Looking the size of the board and using different paths to join two different squares.We also Identify pieces, in a fantasy set of pieces (not in a Staunton one)To my surprise, he was able to identify the King, Queen, Knights (he calls it horses) and Rocket (he call it castles).But have problems to identify Bishops and Pawns. He identify them sometimes as "Princes" and sometime as Pawns when I told him the correct name.He enjoy his first lesson, and the next day he ask me for the chess board and pieces.And he spent sometime playing (in his own way) with the chess set.Any advice, experiences, books, ...
I am a Master Class Correspondence Chess Player, so my chess skills would be good enough to learn my boy.
Sorry for my not enought-well english, but I am spaniard
Looking forward to your reply,Fausto Alava-Moreno
I have a 3.5 year old son too and interestingly, he knows how to set up the white and black pieces of the game, starting position. I believe 4 years and younger kids learn best when they are exposed to anything on a more frequent basis.
I play chess with my students, my 8 yr old daughter, my in laws every occassion we find and these "exposes" them ( my 2.5 year old son too) into the game. Both knows the names of each pieces (with inaccuracies but refers to the Knight as Knight). I have lots of chess books lying around the house, magazines and we watch GM Roman's videos on TV when we're tired of playing tots' games like ball throwing, catching, storytelling etc.
My background in Occuaptional Therapy (college diploma) and Master's in Special Education somehow helps us with my wife) guide them into their early learnings about life, not just chess.
Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori should all guide us into early learnings of our own children.
Expose, and the subtle ways of teaching them is done.
Thank you for your response, chess_kiko.
One more question. Is "Absorbent Mind" a book dedicated to kid learning?
Thanks for your response, ezsqueeze95.
Do you think that the better way is start with the pawn movements?
I have been thinking in the correct way, and feel more logic start with Rockets, then Bishop, then the Queen and King (move as a Rocket and as a Bishop), the pawn (move as a rocket and capture as a bishop) and finally the Knight (the L movement, probably the more dificult).
And forget castles and "en passant" pawn capture in this stage.
But, of course, these are just my thoghts, and may be wrong.
Try my first lesson with your son, and tell us about your feelings and the response of the kid.
I enjoy very much as a chess teacher.
Hi Fausto, he sounds like a very bright boy!!
I taught my children about a year ago, my son was 4 at the time and my daughter 7. We had a big chequered rug in the kid's playroom and we would each choose a piece to "be" and then hop around the rug, in turn, the two of them playing as a team to try to catch me. In this way, the kids learnt how the pieces moved and some aspects of piece attacks (a Knight can't attack another Knight without being attacked itself etc.) I think it helped them get an initial sense of the geometry of the game and, more importantly, it was great fun!
I think this is the most important thing .. to make it fun and enjoy your time as father and son together. I hope you have many happy games together! Good luck!
I actually learned chess when I was 3. My dad taught me. We didn't have very many games at home so when I saw a chessboard, my eyes lit up wondering what it was. Unfortunately I wasn't able to develop an interest up until the age of 7, but I was eventually able to learn how to move each piece while I was still 3. I just didn't know how to formulate any sort of strategy.
The thing I'm trying to get at is, it's doable. It's just a matter of how you can keep a hook on their short attention spans.
Thank you for your words, ezaqueeze95.
In this stage, my goal is introduce my boy in the chess world, and I am not sure which will be the better way.
Of course, I can try and fail, but with some advices of parents/teachers that had worked with 3-4 years old kids, it would be easy.
I am sure that, my boy has the capacity of learn the game, but always as something that enrich his other skills.
My idea was introduce the pieces movements first, and then or between, start with chess-like games, for example kings and pawn, and so on.
Of course, my goal is not to have the youngest GM in the world in a few years, just improve his skills like planning, act and consequences, improve his autoconfidence, and so on. And chess could be the nice way to do that.
Thank you for your words Meemo.
I would like to spent quality time with my boy. And teach him a lot of things, not only chess.
My goal is to make my boy an myself enjoy with our games, and at this point he enjoy with the chess set.
Set up the board with pawns and kings only and play a game where you both try to get your pawns to the opponents back rank, this will teach how pawns move, captures and checks and the might of the king! Play this over and over as a game in itself. Once he can play without making illegal moves every time then introduce the queens so he will get used to diagonals and moving many squares in one go. Once he can use the queen without leaving it enprise everytime then teach checkmate with just king and queen and how it is easiest with the king in the corner. From there introduce the other pieces in turn and with each piece show and practice more mating patterns. Finally when he can use all the pieces correctly all the time time then you can teach basic openings, very simple planning (2 move ahead) for both sides and how to finish off a game!
I did this with my daughter and it's worked ok for her so far!
Thank you for your advice, peterhaby.
I will try your "kings and pawns" suggestion in a near future.
How old was your daughter when you start to teach her?
I actually learned chess when I was 3. My dad taught me.
Thank you for your advice, illuminosferatu.
In kids of three or four years old, they have shorts attention periods. So, the lessons should be funnies and during short periods of time. Maybe 15-30 minutes.
petershaby wrote: My daughter was 4 and could manage pawns and a king, although her attention span is always a problem! Good Luck
Thank you for your fast response, petershaby.
My boy also have attention span "problems", and change his activities every short periods of time. I suppose, it is inherent to his age.
Sometimes he spent one full hour seen a cartoon movie, sometimes he change the DVD every 5 minutes. And he is able to use it! Change the DVD, lock the cover and start the movie pushing the correct button.
My five year old saw a set at his uncle's house and was fascinated by it - when we got home I took out my old board and we have been at it since. He really loves the game and he enjoys the tutorials in Chessmaster (not sure if that would work with a 3.5 year old.)
One thing I read about playing with little kids is that it is good to give them an advantage, but not to just let them win. One trick we found is that we play until 16 pieces are off the board - then we change sides. It is great for both of us - as he gets to play with a huge advantage and I have to try win or survive with few pieces. Another variation could be that I would paly minus some key pieces or we could use a chess clock where the child would get 30 minutes for the game and the adult would get 5-10 minutes.
It is great bonding and we are having a blast - he will be beating me on his own soon.
I am not having a son or a daughter, but i just wanted to note one thing.
The piece you call Rocket is actually called Rook.
Good luck teaching!
I can't offer direct advice on teaching a 3.5 year old... I've never taught one... BUT... I learned the game at that age simply by watching my grandpa and older cousins play, eventually (only took a few times) I figured out what they were doing and by the time I turned 4 I was pushing wood with the best of them :P.
That knowledge of HOW to play stuck with me and when I took the game back up 1.5 years ago I needed a refresher on en passant and was good to go...
My point - Good for you, I'm glad you're teaching your son. Maybe you're looking at the next Kasparov every time you watch your desktop.
Actually, I taught my son when he was 3.5. I learned chess at the same time when I wanted to teach him. I am not a good chess player anyway.
Just my two cents about teaching kid:
1. Make him interested in the game. You might want to make up some knight story or even "fight" with your son with pillows. If he has no clue about war, it would be very boring to look at the board with those pieces. Lego looks better...
2. Help him develop some basic math skills and logic skills before start. You don't want him just to setup the board, but play some chess. For example he needs some idea about trading pieces to actually play chess, that requires both math and logic thinking. This could take quite a time to help him develop.
3. Maybe just start with playing a few pieces on the board. Of course you cannot always out smart your son to discourage him...
Check out Susan Polgar's blog. Many countries have chess as part of their school programs. Studies show that children who study chess have a 17.5 percent increase in Math and science abilities. The average non chess student had an average of 4.8 percent increase. Sorry to say the U.S. does not have it a part of the school curiculum and neither does Spain.
Susan Polgar is establishing programs for young children, you may find what you need there.
Thank you for your reply, mytself.
I will visit Susan Polgar's blog.
In several provinces of Spain, chess is included in the school curriculum, not in mine.
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