Chess With A Four-Year-Old

July 20, 2012

Acacia will be 5 this January, and last January when she was turning 4 it became a goal of mine to start teaching her not only how to play chess but also how to love chess. I wanted to do this for many reasons. One of my reasons is my personal love of chess and all the enjoyment I got out of playing on my high school’s chess team. Another reason is that I know learning chess has many benefits for children, such as increased problem-solving ability, longer attention span, increased math ability, and so on. Thirdly, learning to be a “good sport” is important, and I feel that learning to play chess and lose gracefully can go far in terms of anger management.

As I started my journey of teaching Acacia chess, I decided finding a good book for teaching it would definitely help. Knowing how to play chess is one thing, but teaching it to a preschooler is another, and I knew I needed a little bit of “expert” help on the teaching of such a complex game. My google search led to finding Chess is Child’s Play by Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick (the only book I could find on teaching chess to children under 6 or 7). The book was not released until April, so in the meantime I interviewed Laura Sherman and continued teaching the best I knew how on my own.

As mentioned in my book review of Chess is Child’s Play, I really like the book. I’ve found it so immensely helpful in teaching my daughter (and it will teach parents as well) and I’m extremely grateful to have such a wonderful teaching tool. So far we have covered the Rook, the Bishop, taking pieces, attacking and defending pieces, and the Queen. In the chapter on the Queen there is a mini-game that we have been playing for a couple of days. This is how the board is set up:


There are several mini-games to play throughout the book with your child. Acacia and I have had a lot of fun with this game and the other ones. The mini-games presented in this book are wonderful for practice with using the pieces and gradually building up to having all the pieces on the board. So here are two games between Acacia and myself. In both games in the video Acacia is playing white. We take turns between playing white and black, but she has a definite preference for white, which I don’t mind because I have a definite preference for black (the queen is on the right in a real game, and I like that). Forgive the low video quality:

Chess with a 4 year-old! I’m excited about her learning more and eventually being able to play a full game of chess!

3 Responses to Chess With A Four-Year-Old

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

  2. Nick on September 3, 2012 at 5:59 am

    At first some might think that it’s too early to teach a 4 year old kid on how to play chess. But how will we know the ability of that kid to learn chess fast if we don’t start teaching him or her. However, when a kid is having a hard time learning it the teaching method has to be adjusted to his level. It could be difficult to teach but once they get the hang of it they will later on enjoy and improve their game. And they will become competitive while joining in chess tournaments.

    You probably would want to check out too for more chess readings

  3. Sonya writes… - Proud Mommy Moment on March 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    [...] For more on teaching children chess: Interview: Laura Sherman, author of Chess is Child’s Play Book Review: Chess is Child’s Play Chess with a Four Year Old [...]

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