July 20 is World Chess Day and what better time to dust off that chess set and explain the game to your kids! More advanced than checkers, chess may seem like something for older kids to pursue. But even young children can start to learn the game.
The Benefits Of Chess
Parents magazine cited the academic benefits of children learning chess. Their article, “The Brainy Benefits of Chess” sited findings by Dr. Dianne Horgan, Ph.D., who was the dean of the graduate school of counseling, educational psychology, and research at the University of Memphis before retiring. Dr. Horgan found chess “improves a child’s visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability.” And because it is a game of strategy, it helps kids use logic to plan ahead and make choices.
How To Get Started
The U.S. Chess Federation is a great place to start. Their 8-step tutorial will get you going from board set up, understanding the moves for each piece and even tournament rules. If you don’t have a board, but you do have a bored kid, you can also check out ChessKid.com. Their site includes different playing modes (including “slow chess”) as well as puzzles, challenges and lessons.
Find Out Chess Changes Lives
A great example of the inspirational impact of chess can be found in the book, My Name Is Tani and I Believe in Miracles for Young Readers. Targeted for elementary school readers ages 8-12, the book tells the true story of Tani Adewumi, an eight year old refugee who won the 2019 New State Chess Championship after playing the game for only a year – and while homeless.
Tani and his family fled Boko Haram’s reign of terror in Nigeria to come to the United States, where they lived in a New York City homeless shelter while waiting to be granted religious asylum. Tani began attending a public elementary school and decided he wanted to join the chess program, but it required a fee. Tani’s mother reached out to the coach, who offered Tani a scholarship–and a year later the young immigrant became a chess champion.