Help with Teaching?

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Help with Teaching?

Post by jpettit » Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:50 am

Hi everyone.

I've just recently been given the task of teaching chess to a five-year old. She starting to get how the pieces move (lots of trouble with the Knight, though), but I'm at a loss for how to proceed.

Does anybody out there have any experience with teaching this age group? I don't! :) She's very enthusiastic, always smiling, and looking like she's enjoying moving the pieces around, so I think the will to learn is there.

Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated!
-- Jonathan

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Post by shammer » Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:31 pm

i don't claim to be a qualified teacher but when i've taught my little sister and younger cousins (6-10) i've had some success teaching endgames first. i'll start with something easy to win like 2 rook and king vs king. kids like to be able to beat you sometimes. then maybe queen and king vs. king ten year old cousin really surprised me by almost immediately grasping the 2 bishop ending. each time i give them enough pieces to beat me and learn how the pieces work together. with the short attention spans in my family only winning keeps them focused. hope that helps...

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teaching chess to a 5 year-old

Post by davidswhite » Fri Feb 18, 2005 12:56 am

Hi Jonathan,

I'd recommend you contact Tim(hamot) and/or Mark(cornstalk).
Not sure that Mark teaches students quite that young but I know
that Tim in the last year or so was conducting chess classes for
interested 2nd and 3rd graders(or thereabouts).

Good luck and best regards,

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Location: Onalaska, WI

Tim here

Post by hamot » Wed Feb 23, 2005 12:42 pm

I'd be glad to help if you want. And thanks for volunteering me, David. :)

I am teaching my chess class again tonight after school.

However, I also have received a few chess lessons from Bret in the 2004 Tourney. :)


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Help with teaching?

Post by pawnder » Thu Feb 24, 2005 3:00 am

Get them started with a tiny, tiny board.
They will think they can identify the
pieces, and learn to win a piece in a few
lines, and keep the interest up
they get interested when they play on a
bigger board, trying the tactics from the
"starter" set Just one idea..

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Post by jpettit » Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:57 pm

This is great!

Yesterday, I set the board up for her in the starting position and tried to explain why 1.e4 was better than 1.a4, that sort of thing. If you could see her eyes -- wow, absorbing every word. I'd like to see her at school.

Anyway, after I told her how important the centre was, she really wanted to play a game. She was White, and this was completely without my interference:
1.e4 e5
2.f4 exf4

I couldn't believe it (least of all because I love the King's Gambit!). I'm trainging the next Morphy! lol

Thanks to everyone who has posted something; I did get a little chess board for her, a travelling board with pegs to keep the pieces still, and she loves it. Again, thanks!

-- Jonathan

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Location: Onalaska, WI

Hey Jonathan

Post by hamot » Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:51 pm

Jonathan -

3 years ago, I taught my 5 year old son how to play chess. He is very competitive, so he kept coming back for more. lol

I think the key to remember is simple and repetitive. Use short sentences and keep things simple and repeat concepts often.

In your email, you mentioned that she doesn't understand the importance of the king. In my chess class here at school, I frequently repeat the phrase "if you lose the King, you lose the game." I say it often. "Yes, you must get out of check, because if you lose the king, you lose the game." "You can lose your queen and still win, but if you lose the king, you lose the game."

Kids learn better with repetition. I like using cliches with my band kids, because, especially little kids, will start saying it with you after a while.

For instance, in my band classes with 5th graders (10 & 11 year olds), I frequently say that "faster is not better....TOGETHER is better." By the 2nd month, they say it with me in class. I sometimes replace the word "louder" for "faster". The idea is to be simple and repetitive.

Secondly, ask reinforcement questions. Things like, "can the pawn capture sideways?" "can the pawn MOVE sideways?" "can the KING move backwards?" Beyond yes/no questions, you could say, "HOW does the rook move?" "HOW does the bishop move?" and of course "HOW does the knight move?" "WHICH piece can jump over other pieces?" "WHICH piece is the most important piece?" "Can you have more than one queen?"

Other phrases I use in my class - "The WHITE square is the RIGHT square" (so that they place the board on the table correctly) "The QUEEN'S shoes have to match her dress" "KNIGHTS before bishops" "Control the center" "Get your pieces off the back row"

I hope this helps.


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Teaching kids

Post by cornstalk » Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:27 pm

I've coached elementary school kids for the past 14 years or so with great success, and being the opinionated person that I am, I have some advice.

1. You job is to facilite of the kid's learning, not to be the font of all chess wisdom. "Monkey see, monkey do" is the most powerful principle of human learning, so try your best to share your complete understanding of any given position. You model your thinking, the kid imitates. There is no way to teach chess as a series of knowledge bits served up in proper order, and that is not how human beings learn things, anyway.

2. The kid is smarter than you are -- you just know more. Forget about how cute the kid is. Don't talk down to the kid, just look him in the eye and say what you mean. Treat the kid as a fellow chess player -- that's what he is.

3. Chess is social among kids, so it's critically important to get the kid involved with other chess kids.

4. Experience is the best teacher in chess, just as it is in everything. The best experience is to play against somewhat stronger players, but players you still have some chance of beating. Chess is fun, so just play, play and play some more, and you'll get better.

5. When you play with the kid, never pull your punches, just tear the kid's head off (giving time odds is the best way to even the game, but always play your best). While you play, share as much as you can what you're thinking. Don't criticise the kid's moves while play is in progress. Don't give the kid a chance to take back a move. You do that, and you'll kill the kid's confidence.

6. Apart from play, the main thing is to do tactics exercises. To be a strong tactician is about 99% of what it takes to be good in chess. The hard thing for youngsters is piece coordination, and tactics are the ultimate form of that. For the same reason, elementary mates are good for young kids.

7. Check out Usborne books for the youngest players.

8. Open positions are fundamental, and so they are what young players should be taught first. To the degree you show theory (and don't teach much theory to players rated under 1000), focus on 1. e4 e5. For examples of good play, rely on Morphy and his likes.

9. Don't expect kids to take a long time to play their games. People take a long time because they have a lot to think about. Not knowing much about chess, kids don't have a lot to think about. Just teach the kid chess, and let the kid decide how much time to take for his or her moves. That doesn't mean you don't point out the disadvantages of not thinking before you move.

10. Don't expect kids to record their moves. Just point out the advantages of doing so, and the kid will eventually start to do it. Praise him when he does.

11. Pretty much let the kid do what the kid thinks he needs to do to win his games. For example, if the kid likes to bring the queen out early, let him do it -- the fact is, against many kids, that is a winning strategy. But watch for the occasions to point out the bad consequences of bad ideas. The principle is, don't criticise while it wins; wait till it loses.

12. It's about the kid and what will help the kid win his games. It's not about you, and it's definitely not about making the kid do things properly.

13. Console defeat by pointing to the good aspects of the kid's play, and showing that it's a chance to learn. But NEVER say "It's only a game." It isn't.

14. To praise what a kid does well is about 1,000 times more powerful than to criticise what he does poorly. Find the chance to praise, but never give phoney praise.

15. The object of this game is to WIN, not to win only when everything in your life is hunky dory. Don't condemn defeat, but also, don't allow the kid to find excuses for losing.

16. Chess is a fight. Ultimately, serious chess is for people who like to fight. That isn't everyone.

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Post by jpettit » Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:20 am

Thank you both, Tim and Mark. I can't tell you how helpful this has been.

A proverb says that you don't truly know something until you can teach it to another. I'm on way to knowing chess with this.

-- Jonathan

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