Apart from the fact that chess benefits us as a family, there are loads of skills being developed as a child! Hence the reason, I am an advocate of chess for kids!
If you are new to this blog, you may not know, that I am a huge fan of the development of executive functions from a young age!
What are Executive Functions?
The short and easy to understand explanation of executive functions is that they are the skills needed to do what you decide to do.
In other words, executives functions are the things that generally frustrate you, in others. It is when you ask your colleague to run with an aspect of a project after you have broken the tasks down in steps. And still, they can’t seem to get going with it!
Getting started with a task is an executive function. So is planning and prioritising tasks, along with general organisation skills. Self-monitoring and emotional control are both executive functions. Impulse control (thinking before you act) and flexibility in your decision-making, also forms a part of executive functioning.
I think it is handy to know that executive functions are only fully developed by the age of 25-30 years of ages! People with ADHD generally struggle longer to the develop these skills. Hence the fact that I am adamant to get started with the development as soon as possible!
Therefore, even though Logan has ADHD and Oliver doesn’t – both benefit from the strengthening of executive functions.
Chess for Kids
I really don’t need to explain how chess for kids and executive functions go hand in hand here! But here are some interesting facts and observations I have made:
Evidence shows that chess actually improves reading and mathematics skills. – Source
Because chess teaches us to plan ahead, evaluate alternatives, and use logic, it improves a child’s visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability. – Source
Logan, my ADHD boy-child, can concentration for an hour and a half straight in order to beat me in a chess game. Throughout the game, he strategises – thinking three moves ahead, prioritising moves and considering alternatives.
Considering alternative options really translates into, solving problems. The ability to think for yourself and solve a problem through trial and error is huge! Imagine a life where you don’t have to spoon feed people solutions! A world where logic prevails!
Oliver started using the kitchen tiles as a platform to practice the various mobility moves of each chess piece. He is literally walking or jumping the moves permitted for the different pieces. Now it may seem trivial, but Oli is six. Retaining the information from the chess board, manipulating the information and applying it to kitchen tiles – that aren’t checked, is, in reality, a skill that is crucial in the workplace!
Understandable, chess is only a game. As parents, we need to ensure that a game stays fun while benefitting our kids!
Activities that Build and Enhance our Kids
Logan used to hate reading – so we focussed on executive functions instead. I dare not say this out loud – but I think the reading bug has finally bitten him! I am beyond thrilled, even more so, because it wasn’t forced. Perhaps incentivised, but not forced!
The same with chess, weeks will go by when life takes over and we don’t play a single game of chess. And then suddenly, it seems like it is all we do in our free time.
Capoeira is another activity (and sport) I can go on and on about. But let’s save that for another day!
At the end of the day, spending our time and energy on various activities that build and enhance our kids, is so important! For the sake of keeping things interesting and fun, we need to allow things to happen organically!
Some days, that is easier said than done!