Education is multidimensional and multifaceted. As any parent knows, what comprises a child's education is a lot more than what goes on within the four walls of a classroom. Therefore, as you look to add more learning activities to your child's education, you might be wondering, "what benefits does chess have to offer for children?"
The beautiful game of chess has long been associated with courts and royals. It was a part of courtly education in the High Medieval Period. At the time, It was believed that chess was symbolic of Military strategy and metaphor for human affairs and could teach strategy to young court members.
While there are not as many courts as there used to be, children still study chess either as part of a school curriculum or pastime. As a parent, you may be wondering if chess offers many significant advantages to your child. This article gives some insight into the benefits that chess has to offer to young players.
in this article, you will learn:
Why Should Kids Learn to Play Chess?
10 Benefits of Chess for kids.
How to encourage children to play chess.
Let's dive in!
Why Should Kids Learn to Play Chess?
Chess is an important tool for improving learning. This is why we introduced chess tournaments for children between the ages of 5-18. A study by Dr. Stuart Marguiles showed that some participants who played chess within a two-year time frame showed marked improvement in their overall reading scores. Other research also show that chess improves visual memory skills and increases attention spans in children.
Childhood is the most formative section of a child's development. This is why teachers and parents should pay more attention to children's learning. Chess is often likened to a language, and due to the depth of the subject, it requires a lot of time, focus, and practice to master. Chess mastery requires a lot of time and children usually have this in abundance during childhood.
Furthermore, childhood is the stage where the most attention is paid to a person's growth. At this stage, Different activities and foods are introduced to aid a person's development. Chess provides an excellent environment to develop sportsmanship. As a game that actively engages the mind, sharpens memory, problem-solving, attention, and analytical skills, it can be largely beneficial if taught to students at a young age.
What are the benefits of chess for children?
The chessboard is an 8*8 dimension where children can simulate a reality endlessly without risk of injury. That in itself provides an endless slew of benefits.
When simulating this reality, they can learn from their mistakes without any apparent injury. The process of playing itself requires a considerable amount of mental effort, allowing stimulation of several parts of the brain. Thus, chess is a kind of mental exercise that provides several benefits. Some of these benefits are;
1: Chess teaches calculation and contemplation
Very few activities make it possible to visualize calculations from an early age. Even less can teach children to calculate and plan intuitively. Most children do not want to put effort into learning calculations because it is stressful and cumbersome.
Luckily, playing chess helps to solve this problem. Because the game itself requires anticipation and self control, children learn to calculate their opponent’s moves and strength constantly. They also have to weigh the long and short term effects of each move. This process of constant evaluation teaches them to not be very hasty with their decision making.
2: Learning to win with grace and accept losses.
The quiet pace at which chess usually progresses does not indicate how much of a social activity the game is. Unlike most competitive activities, chess usually occurs in a controlled environment that requires silence and focus. Because of this, a game of chess is often played with the highest amount of mental effort possible.
And while experts can make mistakes, amateurs can make brilliant moves to stun their opponents.Very often, games are hard fought and won or lost by the slimmest of margins. This affords both winners and losers the understanding that their opponents have tried their best and perhaps with a bit more luck or skill their roles could have been reversed.
3: Developing impulse control
The game of chess can be set to different time frames with varying dynamics. A chess match can last either 3 minutes or more days, and a game can range from one game to 20+ games. The different possible time frames can help children tame their impulses both in the short and long term and also teach them long term strategy.
Playing in bigger time frames can teach children the value of evaluation.
A chess game can swing wildly to either side, depending on a choice. Therefore, there is significant value in measuring the outcome of every move to either punish an opponent or avoid punishment. Quite often, this act of contemplation translates to other activities as well. Playing chess teaches children to be cautious about the short-term and long-term effects of their decisions. Making the best move can sometimes be bypassed in favor of setting a trap, teaching them to think beyond making the best choice possible in the short term in favor of long term gain.
Mastery in chess is heavily influenced by how much information a person can collect and store, and how quickly they can process it. Children that play chess stand to benefit from regular use of these skills. Chess gives players an advantage by increasing their "database" and data processing skills. Researchers theorize that this advantage arises from memorizing several positions during play.
A chess game may sometimes involve memorizing an extensive repertoire of moves and the consequences of these moves. Various opening and endgame tactics are also often memorized consciously or subconsciously. Research shows that expert chess players display higher proficiency than the average person in auditory and visual memory.
5: Chess elevates creativity
As the famous French artist Marcel Duchamp once famously quipped:
"I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists. " The game of chess is a game that sparks creativity in mind. In an attempt to outwit opponents, players will often have to employ creative elements like traps, deception, surprise, and intrigue to dazzling effect. Players are encouraged to seek out these moments of inspiration and are often rewarded with statuses in chess notation such as "dubious," "brilliant," or interesting." Teaching a child to play chess affords them the opportunity to take advantage of this mechanic and make more creative decisions in real life scenarios.
6: Chess improves concentration.
The word chess often draws an image of two or more players in deep contemplation over a chessboard to mind. Chess is a game that requires complete focus on your objective – capturing the opposing king while making sure that your king is not captured.
Throughout the game every move is made towards the accomplishment of this goal; the slightest shift in focus can be costly. Chess teaches players to concentrate for the entire duration of the game without losing focus on the objectives. A player can play excellently for the majority of the game and blunder because of a lack of concentration. In real life scenarios, this mechanism is useful because it teaches children to focus on set deadlines and objectives.
7: It develops the ability to see from someone else's perspective.
Survival in chess depends on the calculation of the opponents moves as much as one’s own. In a chess game players try to discern the motive behind each other's moves to defend or counter them. In this way children can learn to be more empathetic when they think from other people's perspectives in real-life situations.
A 2019 study found that playing chess develops this ability in children who practice the game. Behavioral scientists term this the ability to see from a viewpoint the "theory of mind." It is an ability that is essential to building empathy and building healthy social relationships as it prompts children to put themselves in other people's shoes.
8: Development of logical and critical thinking.
The number of simulated scenarios required in a single game of chess is endless. Therefore players must consistently evaluate several positions and narrow down the best possible course of action through logical reasoning and critical thinking.
This process stimulates several aspects of the brain and allows it to develop quickly.
Thus, it is no coincidence that children who play chess start to perform better in tasks that require calculations and logic. A study conducted by Robert Ferguson, executive director of the Pennsylvanian American Chess School, found that kids playing chess versus computer games score 13 percentage points higher in critical thinking and 35 percentage points higher in creative thinking.
9: Chess improves reading skills.
Though it may seem that there is no apparent relation between reading and playing chess, improvement in chess has actually been linked to improved reading scores in children. Playing chess allows children to exercise specific skills like thinking, decoding, and comprehension, and these skills are required to read. Studies show that students that play chess score higher on reading tests than their contemporaries that did not play.
10: Chess enables entering a flow state.
Chess players can testify that there is something about playing chess that is akin to meditation. While playing, they sometimes notice that they enter a higher concentration level where the perception of time and focus is heightened. This is known as the flow state. The flow state is a state of absolute absorption that coordinates players to perform at the highest level of performance.
People who regularly perform mentally challenging tasks, such as artists and athletes, can also enter this state. In children, accessing this state can provide them with the confidence to explore their academic and creative pursuits to the highest level.
11: Chess can improve symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD is a disorder that limits a person’s ability to concentrate on a subject over a period of time. Therefore people who have this issue have trouble completing learning and completing objectives. Research shows that children diagnosed with ADHD develop their reasoning skills and higher-level thinking capabilities when discussing and comparing their ideas.
Learning to play chess allows discussion and analysis of ideas. Also, chess instruction could strengthen student's patience, perseverance, concentration, and creativity. A study on 14 students between the ages of 11-13 examining the effect of playing chess on the concentration of students with ADHD established that students should learn chess as it trains them to stay longer on tasks, control their actions, and maintain focus.
12: Chess affords children the opportunity to make friends.
The chess community is a big community of players from all over the world. Because one of the easiest ways to make friends is making friends based on shared interests, children can make friends quickly with other chess players. Cultural influences and language barriers are easily bypassed because the game of chess is a language of its own. Therefore a quick chess game with a stranger in a chess tournament can lead to the creation of a lifelong friend.
Childhood is one of the most critical stages of a child's life. Children have ample time to practice and assimilate quickly. Also, childhood is a foundational stage of a person's life. The influences that a person is exposed to can have lifelong consequences. Chess offers a variety of benefits that can help reinforce your child's mental state.
The game offers children the opportunity to develop several parts of themselves in a non-obvious way. Learning chess provides children with numerous benefits such as developing logical and critical thinking skills, Social skills, self-awareness, and therapy for certain disorders like ADHD.
Teaching children to learn the game may be a bit cumbersome; however, parents can teach their wards to reap the benefits of the fantastic game with patience and dedication.