Chess Is Child's Play

My Guest Star today is Laura Sherman who wrote Chess Is Child’s Play with Bill Kilpatrick.

This book teaches any parent, of any skill level, to teach any child, of any age, to play chess. That's rather amazing. You parents out there, make a note to get this book when it's released in April.

In Her Own Words

Why Chess Should Be a Part of Every Child’s Education
By Laura Sherman

Imagine a world where people all have excellent problem solving skills, where they are patient and respectful of each other on a daily basis. A society where citizens live for the future and plan long term, thinking of where their children’s children will be, following through, seeing each goal to its conclusion with ease. Now add to that an indefinable quality of artistic imagination, dreaming for more than can be reasonably expected, reaching beyond the status quo.

Chess can teach our next generation all these skills and more!

I learned the game when I was young and to this day I see the world as a giant chess game where any barrier can be conquered and any victory can be achieved. No goal is impossible and when I have a target in sight there is no stopping me. The same glint I had in my eye when I faced an opponent at a chess tournament still exists today when I face a challenge, along with the insouciant grin that comes from the pure joy of the experience.

Intuitively most would agree that chess improves a student’s grades and ability to study. Numerous studies have been done over the years throughout the world that show this to be the case. IQ increases, reading test results improve as do math and science scores. However there are so many other skills children pick up naturally from learning and becoming good at chess.

Imagination is a must in chess. You cannot form strategies and tactical plans without being able to envision your goals. It is impossible to win a game without first imagining the victory. You are the one to make the pieces dance to the rhythm you choose. Without the player the pieces just sit dormant on a dusty board.

A child’s self confidence soars as the victories pile up, especially when that child can routinely trounce adults. Allow that child to teach other children or perhaps even the adults and he or she will master the game quickly. Nothing helps someone learn faster than teaching others and nothing does more for one’s pride than to see someone improve under one’s tutelage.

In order to achieve a victory one must consistently play well throughout the game. You can make forty excellent moves and one thoughtless blunder and lose the game instantly. As a result you quickly learn to be thorough in your analysis and patient with your moves. Imagine if we all applied this little lesson to our daily lives. Thoughtless comments, heat of the moment bursts of anger, crimes of passion might just become things of the past to be studied as a part of a history lesson.

If every parent initiated regular family chess nights and if every school taught chess as part of their daily lesson plan imagine where our country could be. Children naturally are drawn to chess. If you don’t believe me try an easy experiment. Go to an area populated with children, put out a chess set and see what happens. I promise you they will flock to the board and become immersed in a game. We all have the power to fuel our children’s existing passion for learning and help our next generation soar. Let’s make a difference!

A Note From Joan

I did a little research about this and discovered that many research studies have been conducted about the effects of teaching Chess to a child. The results are all strikingly similar. In comparison to the control group, the test group showed: significant advancement in spatial, numerical and administrative-directional abilities, along with verbal aptitudes. The noted improvements held true regardless of the final chess skill level attained.

Takeaway Truth

Parents, get this book. You might even consider reading it yourself if you never had the opportunity to learn the game!


  1. This sounds like an absolutely incredible book! I believe Ms. Sherman's words can make a huge impact, and I wish her the very best.

  2. Thank you, Merry! I sincerely hope to help many parents introduce chess to their young children.

  3. Merry, thank you for visiting.

    Laura, thank you for a great post. I know I learned something from the post, and I'll be picking up a copy of your book when it comes out.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  4. Love this essay!

    I learned to play chess when I was in primary school and know it has contributed greatly to my ability to analyse and strategise.

    Taught the basics to some of my students (then hired a "pro" to teach them the finer aspects of the game! I know my limitations!)

    My 8-year-old is eager to learn, so will be dusting off my prized set soon. :)

    Am very much looking forward to reading your book, Laura.

    Thanks for sharing...

  5. Thank you so much for writing, Nailah! I am so pleased to hear that you teach chess to your students! YAY!

    I am eager to hear how your lesson go with your 8-year-old son! Enjoy those bonding moments!!

  6. This makes a lot of sense. I will definitely try it. I have Chess boards but never use them and now is the time that I can learn and maybe even improve my ability to overcome obstacles to finding a new job.
    Thanks, great post.

  7. JP, Thanks for writing in! I do think that the parents who learn to play chess through Chess Is Child's Play will receive some unexpected benefits. Shh, that's a secret though. :-)

  8. I have always said that every child should learn to play chess. It helps to learn patience and the stratigy of always thinking a couple of moves ahead. My mother taught us by the time we were three and I have done the same with my boys.

  9. Wow! That's amazing! Very cool. I'd like to help every parent do the same! Bravo to you!

  10. It sounds like an excellent book, Laura. Here's wishing you every success with its launch.

  11. Chess is one of those rare games where even partial mastery, and dare I say, just a basic understanding of the rules, can have a positive transformative effect on children and the way they process the world and consider the advantages of strategic thinking and imagination within their life. A book like Laura Sherman's is crucial not only to demystifying the game but building a lifelong passion for it. I look forward to seeing her follow-ups in the future.

  12. May be to hard to teach a 56 year old new tricks.
    I could never master Chess game,but I will buy it as a gift for my niece who is determined enough to master the game.

  13. This is a wonderful idea for a gift! I find the mental vision of a child sitting at a chess board interacting with their parent rather than some sort of digital device encouraging. It reminds me of the Norman Rockwell days when everything was at a slower pace. Thanks so much for sharing. This will definitely be on my Christmas list for gift giving this year.

  14. Alan, Thank you so much for dropping in and commenting!

    Bryan, YES! One doesn't need to become a chess expert to gain incredible benefits. I have seen young children receive so much from just learning the basics. I see them apply the concepts to their world around them. I appreciate the kind words of support!

    Sean, Ah, see now I wrote this book for YOU! Bill and I wanted to present the lessons in such a way that they are easy and fun. We took into account the parent who had never seen a chess set, but that wanted to teach their young child. (I can tell you're ahead of that stage) I sincerely hope that you give the lessons a chance and that you find enjoyment in the bonding experience with your niece! :-)

    Keepupweb, I love your analogy! Yes, I agree that children get more out of board games than video games. The bonding experience with the parent is quite magical!

  15. I'm an avid bridge player. There have been many studies that show playing bridge and chess aid in mental acuity. Great for children but especially helpful when you grow older.

  16. Thank you, everyone, for visiting SLING WORDS and for leaving comments.

    I can hardly wait for Laura's book.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  17. Chess Is Child's Play just arrived to my publisher's warehouse!! We have a brand new trailer I'd love to share with you:

    Thanks for all your help and support!