Ways to tech chess to a 7 year old?



I am new to forums and chess.com. I came to this site looking for ideas about how to teach chess to my daughter who is 7. I just bought her a chess set and she's excited about it. I read a few posts and I have a few ideas but am looking for more ideas. If anyone has helpful hints, concepts or links I would appreciate it. 

In my experience, show her quick games, short mates, and repeat as White and Black.  She wil learn mating patterns and what to look for and will be able to remember the short traps and miniatures first to keep her interested.  Show her how to develop her pieces in the center and what pieces should be developed first.  Show her good and bad pawn structure (but remember, there are exceptions to when a knight on the rim is dim or avoid doubled or isolated pawns).  Show her how to protect her king and castle early.  You can alternate and show her very simple endgames, like king and pawn vs king or rook and pawn vs pawn or rook or just king to see if she can checkmate efficently.  Too many pieces in the endgame get confusing.

I don't know what's the best way to teach kids chess, but I've seen several occasions the following paraphrased conversation:

kid: "I thought my opponent would move here and then do this to give me double pawns, so I moved my piece to this square."

coach: "Did you see that moving your piece to this square allows your opponent to take a piece for free?"

kid: "No."


Hmmm.. why is this kid so concerned with doubled pawns when he cannot keep his pieces on the board? Show me a game between two players less than 10 years old that was decided because one of them had doubled pawns and I'll show you a future grandmaster. 

i saw someone post a link and had a look myself. its a bit basic, but looks alright for children - www.chesskids.com
I agree with billwall regarding the basic mating patterns and explaining the rules of development.  I began teaching my 5 year old daughter how to play using chess puzzles (mate in 1 initially then mate in 2 and gain a piece puzzles) when she was 5.  We also played the "pawn game" wherein all 16 pawns are placed on the board and the goal is to push a pawn to the opposite side of the board.  Simply begin this way, add in order: King, Rook, Bishop, Queen and lastly Knight (not necessarily all on the board at one time at first) and for my daughter it began to make sense within a few months.  We still do 6-12 puzzles each day and I play a few games with her a week and have her play various Chessmaster opponents as well.  She's in tournaments now and doing great!  Good luck to you and your daughter :)
Likeforests once pointed me to Emily's Blog, when I posted a similar post. You may find that also interesting...
The best way to teach a 7-year-old is with another 7-year-old so they can play each other.
They need some fundamentals first otherwise they'll end up chasing each other around the board or leaving pieces hanging.  I agree that it's a good idea to have kids play kids but some instruction is needed as in any game or sport.
My dad tought me when I was about 7. He pretty much just kept beating me until I got better, but I realize that may not be the best way to teach chess to a 7-year-old

Yesterday when I was playing online chess, my son sat next to me. I started asking him what would he play next. Then I started pointing him the things that could go wrong with his suggestions. He got very interested and forced me to stay on the game longer than I had planned. At least with my kid, playing others while tagging me and him as one team seems to be working...

All this advice is great, but I would suggest you buy a Chaturanga set online. It is the oldest know version of chess that has chess-like moves, plus it is simpler. So you kill four birds with one stone. You teach her a history lesson, as well as a simpler version of chess. You also give her a more broad background as well as a piece of history. I'll find out where I got my set if you are interested in buying one.

My kids like to check out the (slow chess) games online. (They know if I'm looking at the chess board, chess is the only subject of conversation.) There's usually a few teaching moments there.

They also really like their Fritz and Chesster software.

Just keep the lessons short.

Ricardo_Morro wrote: The best way to teach a 7-year-old is with another 7-year-old so they can play each other.

yh good idea

RobertABrown wrote:


The idea of starting with pawns and adding pieces, as outlined by Brewed, has worked with me when I've taught classes of kids how to play the game. You may be interested to know that Susan Polgar has published a fairly lengthy method for teaching kids. I contacted her via her blog and obtained one for free.  

I went to her web site couldnt find the book so I emailed her and one of her reps replied that she only had a kids video for sale. Could you give me some more info about what she gave you like title ect.. thanks for any reply

Just say that chess is a game of war and you already have their attention.  Then, using that same theme, teach them the "code of combat" (rules of chess)  Then teach them battle strategy.  That way it keeps their attention span long enough for you to teach them.
Maybe a 14 year old, another kid, can give the best advice. Use analogies and make it exciting. Make some obvious mistakes for her so she can get excited about it. Even if she is already excited, it should excite her more. Don't try to teach mating patterns and such, it is too complicated for me and I am a 4.0 GPA Honors student 8th grader who was already a Congressman's special guest speaker at a very important meeting (I can't help but brag). If you do that stuff, you just lose her intrest; that is the last thing you want to do. You do want to show her the fool's mate, she will probably think it is cool and funny how quickly a game can end, as I did. One of the first thing you will probably want to teach her is how to use the knight well. Many young players think it is the "neatest" piece on the board, as it is the only peace that can jump pieces. If I think of more, I am sure I'll tell you. Hope I can be of assistance.Smile 

I was taught by my father when I was 6 and I have taught several children.

Young kids tend to turn generalities into absolutes. 

"Castle early"

"Develop quickly"

"Don't move a piece more than once in the opening"

and so forth, all become dangerous absolutes.

Also, the hardest thing to teach a child is that ones oponent will usually make the best move rather than the worse.  You will find that when they play against each other, each game will have its own rules.  When I was 11, I played a classmate who asked me if he could take one of his own pieces off the board.  I looked at it and said all right.  Later I asked him why he did that and he said that he had something in mind but I didn't do the "right thing". 

My main point is that there are emotional maturity elements that are beyaond the scope of instruction.  They will mature into the game.  Let them "scribble" with each other and have fun.  When you actually give them a lesson, stick with very vague stuff like "try to get your pieces to work together".  When playing "against" them, say "I am now going to make a mistake, and do not move until you are sure you see it" and keep your mistake obvious and something that illustrates the point you are teaching them.


I was taught chess in first grade

I am not sure if they can handle advanced rules like that though

Just teach them how the peices move and they will learn gradually. Don't force them to learn too much in a little time. 

Actually, a friend of mine just bought "No Stress Chess" and plays it all the time with his 6 year old -- the kid loves it.  Definitely worth a look -- looks like it got good reviews on Amazon.
Make the game exiting dont spend all your time explaining how things work try an activate her imagination show her all the great exiting fights of chess.