How to Teach Chess to Kids (Quick Answer!)

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 05/02/24 •  7 min read

Teaching a young mind the game of kings is like opening the door to a beautiful world of strategy and intelligence. With its complicated moves and timeless appeal, chess is more than just a game; it’s a dance of the mind that teaches people to be patient and think critically. 

In this post, I’ll show you how to teach kids how to play chess in a fun and effective way. Let’s help the next generation of grandmasters get started, one move at a time. Let’s dig in!

Understanding the Chessboard and Pieces

Grandparents teaching a granddaughter how to play chess

Chess is a beautiful game that exercises the mind and teaches strategy. Before diving into the game, it’s essential to understand the battlefield and its warriors. So, let’s start by learning about the chessboard and the unique pieces that move on it. Once you grasp these basics, you’ll be on your way to becoming a chess master in no time!

1. The Chessboard:

2. Setting up the Board:

3. The Pieces:

Every piece has its way of moving. Let’s learn about them!

a. King (1 per player):

b. Queen (1 per player):

c. Rook (2 per player):

d. Knight (2 per player):

e. Bishop (2 per player):

f. Pawn (8 per player):

4. Key Tips for Parents:

Teaching Basic Strategies

Chess is a two-player strategy game with the ultimate goal of checkmating your opponent’s king. Mastering chess requires understanding basic strategies. Here’s a simple guide to kickstart your journey into chess.

1. Opening Principles:

2. Value of Pieces:

Learn the relative value of your pieces:

3. Avoid Hanging Pieces:

Ensure your pieces are protected. A piece that isn’t defended can be captured for free, called a “hanging” piece.

4. Importance of Pawn Structure:

Pawns can shape the battlefield. Avoid creating pawn weaknesses like isolated, double, or backward pawns. These are easier targets for your opponent.

5. Tactical Themes:

6. Importance of King Activity:

In the endgame, when fewer pieces are on the board, using your king is crucial. The king becomes a fighting piece.

7. Principle of Two Weaknesses:

Often, more than one weakness in your opponent’s position is needed to win. Create multiple threats in different board parts to stretch their defenses thin.

Making Chess Fun for Kids

Chess is a game of strategy and skills. However, for kids, it can sometimes seem complicated and boring. The trick is to make it fun, engaging, and relatable for them!

1. Use Colorful Pieces:

Bright and colorful chess pieces can make the game more appealing. Consider getting a themed chess set, like superheroes or cartoon characters.

2. Storytelling:

Turn each game into a fun story. For instance, “The brave knights are trying to save the queen,” or “The pawns are on a great adventure!”

3. Simplify the Rules:

Start with basic rules. As they get the hang of it, introduce more complex restrictions.

4. Play Timed Games:

Use a timer to make games faster and more exciting.

5. Reward System:

Give small rewards for milestones, like their first checkmate or capturing an opponent’s queen.

6. Create a Fun Environment:

Play outside, in a fort, or set up a themed chess corner.

7. Interactive Learning:

Use online platforms or apps designed for kids. They usually offer interactive tutorials and fun challenges.

Encouraging Consistent Practice

For kids to play chess, they need to enjoy it, have a reason to play, and be in the right setting. Play chess every day after school or on the weekends. It helps them set up a place to play chess at home, which makes the game more important in their lives. People may also be drawn to you if you buy attractive chess pieces. 

Use praise and gifts to get people going and help them grow. If you practice for a week every day, you might get a reward or more time to play. To keep them interested, you can try educating and letting them learn, and beat up a cousin or find riddles online. Videos or pictures of chess that teach and amuse could get them interested. If you don’t want to learn, don’t. Celebrate their growth and help them keep doing it until it becomes a habit.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Techniques

Your child’s chess skills and understanding will grow if you keep track of their progress. Play games with them often and track how they play and what they do wrong. Do they keep making the same mistakes, or do they get better? Write down these thoughts in a short journal. Most online sites let you keep track of your progress. You may need to change your plan when you see how they are doing. Excellent students should be taught more challenging strategies. 

If they are having trouble, return to the basics or try something new. Use more pictures, chess problems, online lessons, or a local chess coach to help you learn. Remember that kids should learn, be challenged, and, most of all, love the game. Changing strategies based on how things are going helps reach these goals.

Do you want to improve your chess strategies? Check out the video below!


How young can a child start learning chess?

A child can start learning chess as young as 4 or 5. However, the appropriate age may vary depending on the child’s attention span and interest.

How can I measure my child’s progress in chess?

To measure your child’s progress in chess, observe their game strategies, note improvements in decision-making, and track their win/loss record against varied opponents. Additionally, online platforms often provide ratings and progress charts.

What if my child wants to take chess to a competitive level?

If your child wants to take chess to a competitive level, consider enrolling them in local chess clubs, hiring a professional coach, and participating in regional or national tournaments. Ensure they have consistent practice and are familiar with tournament rules and etiquette.

Final Thoughts

Teaching chess to kids is about blending strategy with fun, ensuring they grasp both the basics and develop a genuine love for the game. 

The journey should be tailored to each child’s pace, recognizing that every child is unique and might respond differently to various teaching methods. Engaging tools like colorful chess sets, interactive apps, and storytelling can make lessons enjoyable and memorable.

Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t just about mastering chess but fostering critical thinking, patience, and strategic planning in young minds. Encouragement and celebrating small victories will go a long way in building their confidence and passion for the game.