The Parent’s Guide to Chess for Elementary School Kids
Chess is a great game to teach elementary school kids. Kids as young as 5 can start learning how to play!
If your elementary school student is interested in learning, or if you’re looking for resources to help take your beginning chess player to an intermediate level, you’re in for a treat!
Asante fell in love with chess when he was 4 and we’ve been learning all about chess ever since. While he’s not as obsessed as he was a couple years ago, he still loves to play socially and in an occasional tournament. Here are some of the great resources out there to help nurture budding chess players!
Chess Boards and Games
A chess board is a chess board, so whatever you already have is great. But if you don’t have one already, we LOVE this board. It’s simple, has a rollable mat and is easy to carry around.
Once your child gets the hang of chess and is super familiar with the pieces and how they move, it can be fun to get a character chess board :). Asante had a crazy obsession with Super Mario so we got him this for him. It’s a favorite way for him and his friends to play!
If you have a lot of time in the car, or take road trips a lot, chess is a great way to pass the time and get some practice games in! Just be sure to use a magnetic board ;).
This game helps teach kids how each chess piece moves. When it’s a player’s turn, they flip over a card and the card shows which piece to move and how it can move. On the other side, you can play standard chess.
This is THE chess website for kids. You can watch videos, play games against other kids and against the computer, do puzzles, and more! Excellent, excellent resource.
2. Sigma Chess
We use this program to play practice games at various levels. We also use this to analyze Asante’s game. When he plays in tournaments, he writes down his and his opponents’ moves. When we get home, we put all of the moves in this program and it shows us which moves weren’t great, where the blunders were, etc. It’s a great way for kids to talk through their games and learn so they can play better the next time!
We loved playing this app that promises to bring kids up to a 1200 rating! While it didn’t do that for Asante, it certainly helped him some! 🙂 It’s a fun way for kids to learn and practice chess.
1. Winning Stress Strategies for Kids (intermediate level)
2. How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (beginners/intermediate level)
3. Usborne Complete Book of Chess (beginners)
4. Chess Tactics for Kids (beginners/intermediate level)
The USCF is the United States Chess Federation, and all serious chess players need to join! They have special student memberships that are inexpensive and come with a subscription to Chess Life, a chess magazine for kids. When you join, they will also send you occasional flyers in the mail, letting you know of nearby chess tournaments.
2. Chess Clock
When kids hit mid-elementary school, they are typically expected to bring a chess clock with them to tournaments. My son prefers the digital, but kids use all different kinds.
Most tournaments provide notation sheets, but some kids like to keep track of their games in a notebook. I think this is a fun idea, because it’ll help your child to see how their skills grow over the course of their tournaments!
4. Chess Notation Sheets (for young children)
Before Asante could write well, Jake made notation sheets where all you have to do is circle the pieces moved. Be sure to have this sheet pre-approved with your tournament director. Most parents and directors we’ve talked to have been excited and eager to introduce these to their young players, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting them approved.
Opportunities to play with other kids
Local libraries are a great place to start when looking for chess-playing opportunities. Most city libraries have a chess club for kids of all ages.
Some elementary schools have chess clubs too. If yours doesn’t, chances are there are other kids who want to play too– why not start one?!
If all else fails, have your child play games online with other kids through Chesskid.com!