Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teaching your child to play chess

DESPITE what has been written and said about President Arroyo, I think she has done a lot of good for the Philippines in general. The one thing that I admire the most is her decision to include chess as part of the curriculum for elementary and high school students starting next school year.

I suppose that National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Butch Pichay had a hand in this momentous decision as well as secretary Jesli Lapus of the Department of Education.

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They will start a legacy that will be considered one of the turning points in the history of our country. Producing masters in chess is just the gravy. The main and foremost result is the production of responsible and conscientious citizens that will make our country great and prosperous.

START AT HOME. Dr. Robert Ferguson cites several factors in the child’s development in chess: children love games and playing chess motivates them to learn; chess creates a pattern or thinking system that breeds success; the chess- playing child become accustomed to look for more and different alternatives; chess offers immediate punishments and rewards for problem-solving; chess competition fosters interest, promotes mental alertness, challenges all children and elicits the highest levels of achievement.

Based on the evidence, it’s easy to conclude that chess can play an essential role in a child’s development.

Here is what you do. Chess is very complex and if you introduce a child to the game in the wrong way, it quickly can become tedious and boring for him. If that happens, he will tune you out.

Read my two previous articles “64 chess commandments ” and “50 bad chess habits” for guidance. Here are the steps to follow which are culled from various sources on the Internet.

1. Present the game in a step-by-step process, making sure the child masters each step before proceeding to the next.

2. Make the lessons short. Don’t overload your child. Don’t teach all the moves for all the pieces in one lesson.

3. Spend more time practicing lessons you’ve already covered than teaching new material.

4. Use the Internet whenever possible.

5. Make use of a chess computer program for practice games. This will increase markedly your child’s interest in the game.

6. If you are giving a lesson, be prepared. Your child must believe that you know what you’re talking about.

7. Give your child positive reinforcement whenever possible. For a particularly outstanding chess performance, reward the child materially with his favorite dessert or a visit to the movie theater.

8. Present new chess material only when your child is well-rested and fresh.

9. Be patient. Don’t expect too much too fast.

10. Keep it fun! If either of you is not enjoying the lesson or practice session, cut it short.

11. Have the child watch the games of experienced players. Children can improve their games by watching the strategies of others and applying what they have learned to their own games.

12.Take the opportunity to teach the child good sportsmanship. The child will likely lose as much as he wins and should maintain a good attitude regardless of the outcome.

13.Make sure that you keep the game honest. Never lose to your child on purpose. This will take away part of the learning experience from the game. Your child will also soon figure out what you are doing and a lot of the fun will be gone.

14. If your child shows great promise, invest in a good chess instructor. I know of several good ones, all masters, who are more than willing to help and whose fees are reasonable. They have a role model to follow in our Wesley So. He is only 15 and is earning millions with more to come.

15. There are kiddies tournaments,let them play including playing with adults

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