Is My Child Ready For Chess? – A Guest Post

Homeschoolers have many interesting freedoms and advantages.  We are not limited to “sanctioned” subjects, and we are not forced to push upon our children an emphasis in “required subjects” (read mathematics and science, though obviously it’s a good idea for children to be exposed to these). 

A homeschooler can largely focus on subjects that they discover their children love.  In doing so, education is being tailored around the student’s interests and strengths.  Another result of this approach is that the student is far more likely to LOVE their education!  And that’s certainly unusual today. 

Here is an article by Laura Sherman, who specializes (along with her partner, Bill Kilpatrick) in writing books that help mom and dad teach Chess to children – and in some cases, as you’ll see, very interested and very young children.  I offer it in support of the above, and in order to provide yet another educational option to homeschoolers.  Laura is a SERIOUS chess player, so she knows from whence she speaks!  I think homeschool parents will find this of interest.



One of the top questions I get as a chess educator is, “Is my child really ready for chess?” There is no pat answer, but I can share my experiences with you.

I believe many parents of young children think their child isn’t ready, because they feel he or she should be eight or nine before embarking on a chess adventure. It might surprise you to learn that some children learn to play a full game of chess before they learn to talk!

Is that common? No. But it has happened and it is possible.

So what is the ideal age to start teaching children chess?

It has been my experience that a child is ready by the time they are four years old. I love that age. Children are so eager to learn and are extremely proud of their accomplishments. In fact, they often want to share their knowledge with their friends and family.

Last summer, when my daughter was four, she taught a fifteen-year-old visiting teacher’s aid to play. I heard all about it from her teacher, who stood back in amazement.

My daughter loves to teach people the game, because she loves chess and wants to share the experience with others. It’s fun for her to get to be the teacher, too.

It is very important to never force chess on your child. It can be hard to recover from a negative experience. If they aren’t interested, just let it go and try again another time.

You will know if your child isn’t ready to learn. We talk about this a bit in Chess Is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques That Work. Pretty much any child can do the mini-games for two- and three year-olds, which introduce the child to the names of the pieces and the board. However when you get into piece movement, some kids just aren’t ready.

One of the telltale signs is that they move the pieces in large circles on the board, not following any particular path. Another indicator is that they aren’t interested in following the basic directions you give, when you know they understand the instruction.

So what do you do if your child isn’t ready now? Wait a few months and try again. Most likely they will be ready before you know it and then it will be their decision to learn!

If the young child has an older sibling, it can be a good plan to play with the other child, allowing the younger one to watch. Children often want to do what their older brothers or sisters are doing.

Chess lessons, done correctly, are a fun bonding experience for the parent and child. When your child is ready, they will let you know and then the problem will be how to stop them from beating you!

Here’s a link where you can see a video of a young child playing Chess, using Laura’s system.


Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She co-authored Chess Is Child’s Play with Bill Kilpatrick to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and having been one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.

Laura lives with her family in Florida, where she spends her spare time at the beach and writing haiku, the Japanese art of short poetry.





1 comment for “Is My Child Ready For Chess? – A Guest Post

  1. July 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Love love love this article. Thanks for posting!!

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