When kids start learning how to play chess, they don’t play full games immediately. This sounds surprising, but there are good reasons for it.
- It takes time to assimilate all the rules.
- There is too much ‘action’ on a full board for students to immediately apply the concepts they are learning.
Our beginner chess lessons cover the basic rules and skills fairly quickly: By the 5th lesson, students can play full games. But this brings up the question: What do they do until then?
One of the distinguishing features of the Steps Method is the rich variety of mini-games students can play. We strongly recommend that our students play these at home with their parents until they know enough to play a complete game of chess. These mini-games have many advantages.
- They allow students to focus on a particular concept, rather than trying to keep track of everything at once.
- Students can directly see the benefit of applying a particular skill - the cause effect relationship is much more clear than in a more complex full game.
- They get the students involved with the pieces, and get their parents involved with chess!
Parents - don’t worry if you don’t have any chess experience. All you need to play with your child is some basic rules! Here is one mini-game you can play with only knowledge of the knight move. Because the knight is (by far) the trickiest piece, this is great practice for kids.
White moves first. Only the knights move - in this game the pawns are like counters. Whoever captures all the other person’s pawns first wins! The first time you play, the knights are not allowed to capture each other. Once you see your child is using their knight efficiently to capture your pawns, you can increase the difficulty level by allowing the knights to capture each other. Now each player has to consider the action of the enemy piece as well as their own. By playing this game, your child will:
- Practice moving the knight effectively
- Begin learning about the concept of time, by trying to capture the pawns in the shortest number of moves possible
- Start playing with a plan - something that is impossible on a full board in the beginning
- Begin taking into account the actions of the opponent
Simple and instructive. Enjoy!