Introduction by William Stewart from Article available on William’s site on Why Kids Should Play Chess.

Original Article By Mary M. Alward.

Children should play chess because chess can impart valuable life skills and experiences to it’s players. There has been extensive scientific documentation that chess quantifiably improves memory, critical thinking, mathematics, and reading skills (to name a few). The earlier a child begins learning and playing chess, the greater the likelihood that he/she will excel in the aforementioned areas. The concept of plasticity of the developing cerebral cortex in children suggests that the earlier a child begins learning a skill/language/etc.. – the more natural success he/she will experience as the developing brain is very similar to an extremely effective sponge (especially in the earlier stages). A good example is that children are much better at learning languages at an early age – because their brain is naturally more receptive to encoding external stimuli into meaningful patterns. The following article by Mary Alward (with reference to original material by Chess Coach Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan) details the benefits of teaching chess to children.
Chess: Teaching the five R’s to Children

One of America’s premier Grand Masters, Yasser Seirawan, believes that chess teaches kids the 5 R’s; reading, writing, arithmetic, responsibility and respect. Here are the reasons why.

Chess and Mathematics:

Each piece on a chess board has a value. Some pieces are worth more than others. If you allow your opponent to capture stronger pieces while you protect those of lesser value, it can cost you the game. Chess helps kids to calculate mentally.
Chess and Writing:
The rules of chess mandate that the players have to keep score of the game. This encourages children to write.
Chess and Reading:
Chess encourages kids to read because in order to perfect their game, they have to study chess books in order to learn rules and strategies.
Chess and Respect:
In chess, you must respect both yourself and your opponent. Each game begins and ends with a handshake. Chess is the game of Kings and there is no room for cheating or being frustrated because you lost.
Chess and Responsibility:
It is up to the player to lead his army of chess pieces to its best possible deployment. The child has to make decisions. If he allows his pieces to be captured, he may lose the game. This teaches kids to be very responsible when making decisions. This habit stays with them throughout their lives and helps them to make responsible decisions in all that they do.

When kids learn to play chess, they begin to develop mathematical skills such as algebra and geometry, critical thinking, logical thinking, decision making and problem solving. These skills will allow them to move through life prepared to deal with the unexpected and to take control in all situations and make intelligent choices. Dr. Peter Daubergne of the University of Sydney in Australia conducted a study on children who play chess. He concluded that these kids had raised their IQ’s significantly in the following areas.
  • The kids learned how to make very tough decisions without the help of an adult.
  • Their skills in creative, critical and original thinking were finely honed.
  • Reading, language, mathematics and memory were greatly enhanced.
  • Problem solving skills were substantially strengthened.
  • They were able to make accurate and quick decisions under time pressure, which helped them bring up their exam marks.
  • They learned the importance of flexible planning and that once decisions were made there was consequences to be reckoned with.
  • Chess challenged gifted children and helped underachievers learn how to study and strive to put forth their best effort.
  • Chess helps children of all social and economic backgrounds.
Chess in the Schools
European and Russian schools have included chess in their educational curriculum for years. Today, it is also included in the curriculum of many Canadian schools. Kids are attracted to chess and it teaches them many important life skills.
Chess appeals to the competitive nature of children. In chess, unlike team sports, the child takes full responsibility for their losses. He is taught that he only has himself to blame. On the other hand when they win, it is their victory and theirs alone. They learn that they’ve won because they’ve put more effort into studying and learning the strategies of the game. 
They were the one who out-thought their opponent and maneuvered their opponent. Victory is sweet.
Children who take up chess love the game deeply. Once they learn to make logical choices, hard decisions and plan intricate strategies, the lessons stay with them for life. Emotional children learn to take losses and continue to return to play time and again. Over-achievers learn that they won’t always be the best at everything they do, because there’s always someone who can beat you. Kids who lack confidence and have never won anything in their lives win at chess.
Chess has been called the Game of Kings and the King of Games. It is beneficial to both adults and children. It teaches life skills that will help them excel in life and give their best in all they do. Enroll your child in a chess club where they will have an excellent coach, or contact a chess master about teaching your child to play the Game of Kings.
Original Article By Mary M. Alward.
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