In this short document I will do my best to summarize the key points of what any chess parent can do to help his child to develop in the chess world. While some of the points I will mention here are as close as possible to plain facts, others are my thoughts based on my experience as a young player and as a chess coach.
First step : Your young kid really likes to play chess.
Play with him whenever he likes to. Suggest buying books that might improve his chess. Many young kids will simply enjoy playing, moving the pieces, and won’t like to put any effort into reading books. You can maybe suggest some entertaining chess software. The best one I could think of would be ”Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster“. Do not ever push your kid to do more chess than he would like to do. To be truly successful and to enjoy the game, the passion, love, and desire to play and practice should come first of all from the child. Only then it would be the parent’s job to do the best he can to assist him, not the other way.
Next step : Your kid is very passionate about chess and likes to do more than just play chess at home.
Look for a possible chess club in his school and other chess kids in his school or area that he can play with. In many of the school chess clubs there will be an instructor for the group. That can be a great first step into having your kid learn chess in an organized way. There are also school competitions, so your kid might get to play his first tournament games this way. Also you can look for chess tournaments for kids in your area. At this stage your kid is still unrated and should start playing those tournaments at the very beginner level.
Next step: Your kid shows great passion beyond the levels already discussed and beats most of the other kids.
This would possibly be the right moment to take his chess to the next level. Look for a chess club in your area where your kid can play and see games. Most of the players in such a club would be adults, but there should be no barriers and no reason why a 7 year old 50-60 pound kid could not beat an adult (at his chess level) many times his age and weight. A chess club would also be the the right spot to look for a chess coach for your kid, whether it would mean joining a group or taking one on one classes. The importance of choosing the right coach can not be emphasized enough. Your young child’s chess coach should not only teach your kid some chess moves, his job is far greater than that. He should prepare and give your kid the right tools to study chess the right way, to compete in the best possible way, yet with enough respect and honor for both the opponent and the game itself. The connection between the student and his coach is critical. Both of them should enjoy coming to the class. This has to be a two way street, not one way. Playing tournaments is incredibly important for young kids. There is no better way for them to learn than from their own games. Giving your kid the possibility to play enough tournaments is very important, clearly starting from local tournaments and moving to bigger tournaments as your kid’s level improves.
What now? Well, you have given your kid all that you could by this stage, from the first interest in the game to playing tournaments and practicing with a coach, whether in a group or privately. What more can you do? Well, not really that much. Some kids will lose the passion and interest in the game. They will find more interesting things to do. This is natural, as it happens in every field. Fighting it would not be right. Some kids will improve and keep improving, and as a parent all you have to do is to give them the opportunity to play in more tournaments, practice more, and support them before and during the tournaments. I have been asked again and again what I remember from my parents’ involvement in my chess. Well, my mother’s heart and thoughts being with me in every tournament I played. Whether it was 2 miles from my home or thousands of miles away, I was lucky enough to have my father with me in most of the tournaments I played. What do I remember about this? Well, him being in the crowd, with bananas, granola bars, mineral water, and all the support and confidence in me that one could ask for. I do not know of any better way a chess parent can help his kid than the way my parents helped me.
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