There are many activities that you can do with your children or encourage them to participate in outside the classroom that help to improve their analytical thinking skills. One of these activities is playing chess. The game of chess has been associated with intelligence and thinkers for most of its 1,500-year history since it first originated in India, but chess kids do not have to be geniuses to get something out of the game. Studies have shown that playing chess not only helps kids to develop critical thinking skills but also teaches valuable life lessons. In fact, the benefits of chess to kids are so pronounced that some schools are even incorporating it into the curriculum.
When teaching your child to play chess, it is important to start slowly and not expect too much, too soon. You can begin teaching your child about the different pieces and how they move when your child is as young as five, but do not expect them to figure out how to win chess for several more years.
Playing chess teaches kids a number of valuable cognitive skills. Some of these may seem obvious, but others may surprise you.
In a game of chess, you learn quickly that every decision you make has consequences. Chess teaches kids to think through the consequences of their actions and make better decisions.
A game of chess is about achieving a goal: checkmating the king. A chess player must use strategic plans to achieve that goal with the flexibility to change based on different contingencies, i.e., the other player’s moves.
Every turn in chess presents a wide variety of different possibilities. Chess allows kids to consider different “if/then” scenarios and predict what will happen as a result of a particular action.
While chess is typically thought of as a calculated exercise in logic, it also encourages creative thinking. A successful chess player has to imagine what the other player might do.
This may come as a surprise, as chess does not necessarily involve a lot of communication between players, but playing the game exercises the logic centers of the brain, and logic is strongly related to language.
In addition to analytical thinking skills, chess also teaches valuable skills for interacting with others and functioning in the world:
Best in Class offers summer day camps with optional chess activities. Both our after-school programs and our summer day camps for elementary students provide fun activities to help children learn valuable life skills and provide academic enrichment. Visit our website to learn more.