There are lots of chess books written for children out there. Youíve seen them before. Perhaps you learnt chess yourself from a book like this, or used one to teach your children.
You know what they look like, donít you? First we learn how the pieces move, and find out about check, checkmate and stalemate. Then we move onto some simple tactics, perhaps some forks or checkmate combinations, some basic opening principles and some simple endings. And what else, you might ask, are you expected to put in a chess book for children?
My experience, though, based on many yearsí experience working with young children, is that while most 7-year-olds have little difficulty learning the moves and being able to play a legal game, getting any further is too much for them. After a short burst of enthusiasm they get stuck, decide chess isnít for them and give up.
The problem is that many young children simply donít have the cognitive or self-regulatory skills to access concepts such as looking ahead, making decisions, thinking before you move and using logic to choose moves. So, while they derive some short-term enjoyment from the game, they gain little or no long-term benefit, just a sense of frustration and maybe failure.
CHESS FOR KIDS offers a different approach to teaching chess to young children, using the game as a teaching tool which can deliver a wide range of thinking and life skills. Readers follow the story of Sam and Alice, who join the army and prepare to fight the evil aliens in a game of living chess. Sam, like many boys, is enthusiastic but impulsive, does things without thinking, and when he makes a mistake or finds something too hard he wants to give up. He wants to become the king in the army, but to do that he has to learn to think before he acts, to listen to the other members of his army, to consider his choices and think ahead before making his decisions. Alice is intelligent, but can be timid and sometimes lacks aggression. As she wants to be the queen in the army she has to learn to be braver and more positive, because itís the queen who will capture most of the enemy soldiers and checkmate the king.
By joining Sam and Alice in their adventure, children will learn how to concentrate and focus, how to develop their memory, how to consider choices and make decisions, how to look ahead, about the concept of personal responsibility and accepting the consequences of your decisions, about learning to be patient and learning not to give up when things get tough, and about the nature of courage and heroism. They will learn all this within the context of a story driven by subversive humour.