At What Age Start Chess? A Helpful Guide For Parents!

Alright, so you have made up your mind and you want your kid to learn chess and be a better chess player. But you are confused about what age to start chess, right? Don’t worry, you are in the right place. Let’s see when you should introduce chess to your child:

As a general rule, one should start learning chess between 5 – 9 years old. The younger one can start learning chess, the faster they can learn the game, and starting early becomes especially crucial if the end goal is to become a top-level chess player.

Let’s dive in deeper and discuss more on this topic. Make sure to read till the end because I will give you some helpful chess books and chess equipment recommendations in the end that can be beneficial for you in teaching chess to your child. So let’s get started!

Why Learning Chess Early Is Important?

Chess is a competitive game. If your goal is to make your child one of the top-level elite chess players, then the sooner you start the better it is. (Of course, you should allow your child to get the complete time it needs to be mature enough to learn chess)

1. Children Can Learn Faster Than Adults

Do you know about the term neuroplasticity? It refers to the brain’s ability to form and reorganize the synaptic connections specifically in regards to any learning, experience, or following injury.

In simple words:

  • Neuro = Relating to Nerves or the Nervous System
  • Plasticity = The quality of being easily shaped or molded

Neuroplasticity is also known as brain plasticity and it is an ongoing process. Although it was believed by people that the brain became fixed after a certain age, as per new research it has been revealed that the brain never stops changing in response to learning.

Rapid brain growth occurs during the first few years of a child’s life. For instance, at the time of birth, every neuron in the cerebral cortex has about 2,500 synapses which can increase up to 15,000 synapses per neuron by the age of three.

However, as a child goes into adulthood, the number of synapses decreases because of synaptic pruning. Synaptic pruning means when some connections are strengthened while the weak ones are pruned.

In short, usually young brains are more responsive and sensitive to experience, and that’s why they can pick up new things quickly.

Remember that both adults and children can become good at chess. However, children can learn the game and improve faster.

2. Children Have More Time Than Adults

As a child grows up and becomes an adult, the lesser time they can devote to chess. Being an adult there can be job responsibilities, family responsibilities, and other work because of which spending time solely for chess becomes tough.

Whereas, children don’t have many responsibilities except for their studies and school work. So rest all the time they can devote to chess and improve their skills.

Hence, if you are planning to make your child a professional chess player or a career in this field the sooner you start the better it will be.

3. Children Don’t Have To Unlearn Things Like Adult

Children have fresh minds to start learning things. They can start everything from scratch, keep learning it, and thus get a better picture of it. They don’t get confused with other concepts or past experiences because they are starting so early.

On the other hand, as the child grows and becomes an adult, he or she has to unlearn the previously learned concepts and patterns. If they don’t do so then the things get mixed up.

4. There Are Benefits of Teaching Chess To Children

According to studies, it has been found that chess can enhance the development of problem-solving skills, thinking skills, and social and relationship-building skills in children.

Chess is also beneficial for children because it can improve your child’s visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability.

You Can Also Read:

Is My Child Too Young To Learn Chess?

Although some children can be fit for learning chess even at the age of 4, it is good to teach chess to your child only at the age they are actually comfortable grasping the chess concepts and learning the chess-playing skills.

Remember, coaching chess to your child will require significant patience and dedication because younger children are not very good at concentrating on things. 

Concentration is needed to play a good game of chess. And after all, you won’t like your child to play the first 10 moves very attentively and then just get diverted by something else.

Once your kid starts going to school, he or she will eventually be able to pick up the concepts, techniques, and rules of chess and will also be able to concentrate for a certain amount of time.

As a result, this will be when your kid will start showing all the qualities required for learning the game of chess.

And in case if you are interested to know about career opportunities in chess, I highly recommend you to check out my detailed article about chess career here.

How To Teach Kids To Play Chess?

If you don’t know anything about chess, then it is always a good idea first to have a good understanding of the basics of chess.

You can check out my chess basics article series and my eBook “The Effective Chess Playing Guide” to get a good understanding of chess. (In my eBook, I have taught all the important concepts and tips on how to play the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. So you can use it as a reference guide to educate yourself about chess and then pass on that knowledge to your child.)

Of course, you can appoint a chess coach for your child, but still, playing chess with your child from the very early stages can be very beneficial.

Your child can relate better with you and you can also teach the concepts of chess in your own unique way, from the perspective of a mom, dad, or grandparent.

Here are some helpful pointers on how to start teaching chess to your kid:

  • Do keep in mind that you would be teaching a child and not an adult. So your teaching methodology should be fun and interactive.
  • Then as your child grows up and starts grasping the concepts, you can start teaching the concepts of chess accordingly

I have a more in-depth guide on how to teach kids to play chess. I would recommend you to check that out for more info.

Best Books For Parents To Teach Chess To Kids

Although there are a lot of free resources available on the internet. But having access to some chess books as a reference guide can be a helpful aid for teaching chess to your kids.

Here are my recommended chess books for you:

  • Chess For Dummies By James Eade: Check Here (on Amazon)
  • Play Winning Chess By Yasser Seirawan: Check Here (on Amazon)
  • How To Beat Your Dad At Chess By Murray Chandler: Check Here (on Amazon)
  • Learn Chess The Right Way By Susan Polgar: Check Here (on Amazon)

For more detailed book recommendations, I would encourage you to read my article on the best chess books for beginners and the best chess books for intermediate players.

Equipment Needed To Teach Kids To Play Chess

The great thing about teaching chess to your kid is you just need a good chess set and that’s it. You don’t need to invest a ton of money. 

Although if you are planning to make your child a professional chess player, and also introduce him or her in club level playing then you can purchase other things like chess clocks, and chess bags.

Here is a list of equipment needed to teach your kids to play chess:

For children, you should avoid using delicate and highly decorative chess sets. Your child might play rough with the chess set and might consider it as a toy. So a durable chess set is the one you should be looking for.

For starting out, a plastic chess set is preferable. Whether you want a foldable chess set or not depends on your choice. Foldable chess sets are generally good for traveling and you can also opt for magnetic ones.

And lastly, remember to avoid those themed chess sets that are based on the cartoon characters and all. Yes, you can have them for fun or display purposes. But for training, you should prefer the standard Staunton Chess Pieces and the chess set for teaching your child to play chess.

Here are my recommended chess sets for you:

Wholesale Chess Archer Chess Set Combo – Forest Green: Check Here (on Amazon)

This chess set consists of Staunton design chess pieces, a green vinyl board, and a nylon canvas archer bag for carrying your chess set. The chessboard has clear algebraic notation so it would be perfect for teaching your kids to play chess in a professional manner.

QuadPro Magnetic Travel Chess Set with Folding Chess Board: Check Here (on Amazon)

Are you looking for a travel-friendly chess set using which you can teach chess to your kids even while you are traveling? Then this chess set is for you. The chessboard has a foldable design and you can store the chess pieces inside the chessboard and thus store it easily.

Now, for teaching chess to your kid, only a chess set would suffice. However, later on, you may need a chess clock to train your kid for playing at the tournament or club. You might also need to have a demonstration set, a scoresheet, and a chess bag later on especially you want to give your kid the full professional chess player training from the very beginning. So depending on your budget, you can give your child a complete set of items and encourage.

Chess Clock:

DGT North American Chess Clock: Check Here (on Amazon)

A chess clock is used in tournament games because there the chess games are generally time-controlled. So if you plan to introduce your kid to club and professional chess playing later on then you can slowly introduce your kid to chess equipment like a chess clock and train from the beginning.

Chess Demonstration Set:

The House of Staunton 28″ Slotted-Style Vinyl Demo Chess Set: Check Here (on Amazon)

A demonstration chess set is not like a normal chess set. Instead, it is a slotted-style chess demonstration set that you can hang on the wall and conduct teaching. And each of the chessboard squares contains slots where you can place the pieces. Do you have many kids in your home? And do you want to teach chess to them all at once? Then this demonstration set can be a helpful aid for you to teach and demonstrate the chess games easily to your kids.

Chess Scoresheet:

Chess Scoresheet: Check Here (on Amazon)

A chess scoresheet is needed to record the chess games you play. After the chess games are played you can, later on, analyze your games by seeing the games notated on the scoresheet. In fact, in professional chess games, chess players are supposed to write down their moves on their scoresheet. If you are thinking about teaching chess to your kids casually then you may not need it. But for proper and serious chess training you will need it.

Chess Bag:

The House of Staunton, Inc. Deluxe Chess Bag: Check Here (on Amazon)

After you purchase a lot of chess equipment like a chess set, chess clock, and scoresheet, why not keep all those organized in one place? And yes, that’s why you would need a nice chess bag so that your kid doesn’t keep losing the things here and there.

Final Thoughts

In short, the age of 5-9 is generally the perfect age to start chess and introduce it to your kids. Earlier than that, your kids might not be mature enough to concentrate for a certain period of time and so you should start roughly once your kid starts going to school.

The sooner you can start the faster your kid can learn, improve and be a better chess player. Also, there are many brain benefits of teaching kids to play chess. So even if you don’t want to make your kid a professional chess player then also teaching chess to your kid from early stages can be beneficial.

That’s it! I hope you found this article helpful. Please share it with others if you found any value in this article. And do you use Pinterest? Then why not pin this post to your chess Pinterest board for later reading purposes. Thanks!

Sources:

1. Can You Make A Career In Chess – YouTube Video – Vidit Gujrathi

2. How Experience Changes Brain Plasticity – VeryWellMind

3. Neuroplasticity Exercises: Why Do Children Improve Way Faster at Chess Than Adults?

4. The 9 Best Benefits of Playing Chess – Healthline

5. Playing Smart: the Benefits of Chess for Kids – Connections Academy

6. Chess For Kids And Parents – A Book By Heinz Brunthaler