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10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Loving Chess

10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Loving Chess

10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Loving Chess

By Malcolm Durning

The benefits of chess are indisputable. According to the National Library of Medicine, chess develops both cognitive and social skills, including “learning fair play, self-respect and respect for others, understanding others’ perspectives, and developing empathy.” 

While our children may enjoy playing chess, it is not uncommon for them to lose steam on their chess journey now and again. If that sounds like your child, or you want to stave off a slump, here are ten tips to keep your child loving chess! 

1. The More the Merrier

Solo chess playtime is great, but this game is even better with company! If your child seems to have lost interest in your chess routine, invite a friend or two to join.

Adding a social element will bring excitement back into chess time. Your child will have the opportunity to share what they have learned with their friends, which in turn reinforces the concepts for deeper understanding. 

Additionally, including a friend can foster a healthy competitive energy that encourages long-lasting chess learning.

2. Make it Fun! 

Chess may be the main event, but you can also gamify other elements of your Story Time Chess playtime, from setting up the board all the way through cleanup. 

When practicing chess at home, ask yourself how you can add fun to every minute. If your child is resisting setting up their pieces, turn it into a game: “Last one to set up the board is a soggy potato!”

If your child is running around the room and unable to stay in their seat during a game, play “switcheroonie chess,” in which you run around the table and switch teams every few moves. There are so many opportunities to get creative and watch as your child's engagement improves.



3. Mix in Mini-Games

When a child is resistant to playing a full game of chess, it is often because they are intimidated or need a confidence boost. Just remember, when practicing at home, it is not necessary to practice with full games all the time. Switching it up with a mini-game can help you assess your child’s level, review piece movement, and ease into the more difficult concepts. 

For example, the mini-game “Queen vs Pawns” is a perennial favorite. Line up the white pawns in their starting positions and place the black queen on her starting square. The pawns must race to the other side of the board while the queen tries to capture them before they get there! 

This game can be used to review pawn and queen piece mechanics or to practice planning and defensive strategy if your child is at a higher level. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for your child to flex important skills and gain a confidence boost.

4. Build Healthy Habits

According to Healthline, it takes, on average, 66 days to make new behaviors a habit. And while that may seem daunting, Tara Parker-Pope from the New York Times has some tips to make building healthy habits easier. 

Two of those tips are to practice the habit daily and to reward yourself. Set up a sticker chart for your child and have them take a sticker every time they practice chess. See if you can use this method to get them practicing chess for 100 days in a row!

Before starting the 100-day challenge, establish a reward for when they achieve this goal. This can be anything from a new toy or a trip to the ice cream shop. While we all want our chess kids to be intrinsically motivated to improve their chess skills, the benefits of building routine outweigh the extrinsic motivation of stickers and ice cream. 

5. Get Physical

Chess requires prolonged focus and some physical self-restraint which, like any skill, takes lots of practice. If your child is having difficulty staying focused, add physical breaks throughout chess time so they can expel some of that physical energy. 

A great way to do this is to have your child physically act out the different chess pieces. Ask them, “How would a bishop zip through the living room? What about a king?” This provides them a physical break while also keeping their brain focused on the themes of the game. 

6. Let the Student Become the Teacher

Another way to re-engage your child with chess is to allow them to act as the teacher for a day. Let them choose the lesson plan and the chess mini-games. Ask them tons and tons of questions; it’s okay to pretend that you do not know the answer, even though you do. 

This is beneficial for numerous reasons. It will highlight what your child enjoys about chess, as well as what they are struggling with or may not have a strong grasp on. Additionally, articulating the concepts to you will reinforce those concepts for long-term learning. 

7. Invite a Relative to Join

With technology like FaceTime and Zoom, and numerous online chess platforms, your child can play with family all over the world. 

Build in chess time as an opportunity to connect with cousins or grandparents that your child may not see very often. This will set positive associations with chess and will encourage them to revisit the game in their downtime. Plus, the next time you see those relatives, you’ll have a new game to play and bond over.

8. Try Chess Puzzles

Your child does not need to play a full game to practice chess every time they get out the board. With the help of,, and, of course, Story Time Chess Puzzle Books, you can find hundreds of chess puzzles varying in level and concept. Mixing in a few puzzles will help vary your child’s “chess diet” and give them manageable, achievable goals when developing a chess routine. 

Not sure about chess puzzles? Story Time Learning also offers coloring books and phonics-focused activity workbooks that reinforce all the concepts we teach. Snap up a few on our website and bring even more fun and variety into your chess time at home!

9. Enroll in Tournaments

Sometimes a little competition is all a child needs to get motivated. Through our sister company, Chess at Three, Story Time Learning hosts low-stakes, high-fun chess tournaments for students of all experience levels. This allows kids to build community with other chess players while putting their skills to the test. 



10. Take a Break With Story Time Backgammon

If your child is reluctant to get out the chessboard, it may mean they need to take a break, and that’s okay! Story Time Learning offers various engaging board games, including Story Time Backgammon, that will continue to develop the skills required in a strong chess player but from a new perspective. 

Wondering about exactly how backgammon can aid in kids’ development? Read our backgammon expert’s account of how the game shaped her childhood in Romania here.

Just like adults, kids can sense when a routine is getting stale. Use these tips to keep chess fun and fresh for your child and they are guaranteed to come back for mo