Why Chess May Be Good For Your Child
In our modern times, there are schools in nearly 30 countries such as: Korea, China, Armenia, Russia, Israel , Turkey and a few schools in the States that teach chess as a mandatory subject on its own, or as a club. There are also 25 universities in the States that offer chess scholarships. These schools have adopted this strategy as they believe that: Playing chess in childhood fosters independent strategic thinking, planning, abstract thinking, judgment and decision making (in difficult situations too), analysis, responsibility (accountability for their actions), perseverance and the ability of children to think independently.
Unlike high-tech computer games, chess is a social interactive game that helps children to improve their intellectual abilities as well as essential personality characteristics such as patience. Some research suggests that learning chess at an early age improves the reading performance of children, strengthens their problem solving skills, and has a positive effect on concentration, memory, logical thinking, mathematics and calculation.
I spoke with Mohamed Tohami, ex-engineer, motivational speaker, bestselling author and passionate chess fan who fully believes in the importance of learning this game and the skills it equips children with. He recently launched his project “chess your child“ to connect children to the magical world of chess and bring up a generation that are able to think and find creative solutions to our current problems. His dream is that one day there will be a chess set in every home.
Chess is life. Everything that happens on the board is a reflection of life. For example, every move is a new problem or a new situation that requires a new decision. You have to make that decision and you are totally responsible for it.
Did playing chess teach you anything that no other game has?
The number one thing that chess taught me is to be unique and have my own style. I believe chess players have unique characters and they think differently than normal people. It taught me flexibility and that there is an unlimited number of ways to reach my goal.
Do you think playing chess has helped you with your studies or with your job as an engineer?
Chess turns you into a brilliant strategic thinker and problem solver. This helped me a lot in taking the decision to finally quit my job and follow my passion. I was able to deal with and overcome the toughest of challenges.
Do you think kids could still be interested in an old fashioned and slow game with all the high-tech games and touch screens that invaded their world?
Parents know the benefits of chess and they are happy and excited to have such an idea in Egypt. We need it today more than ever in order to help our children think proactively and creatively, rather than being passive due to all the technology that fills their world.
In your opinion, at what age should children start playing chess?
Ideally, they can start at the age of 6, yet a few children start learning and playing chess at the age of 4! Chess, like any other game, can attract the interest of a few kids and can be of no interest to others. The most important thing is to introduce the child to the world of chess in a fun and exciting way.
Do you believe an adult who has never played chess before can still learn how to play it now, or is too late?
Absolutely! You can start playing chess any time. Actually, my coach started playing chess at the age of 55 after having a stroke! His doctor encouraged him to play chess to improve his memory and overcome the stroke complications. Chess does miracles to your brain power.
What would you say to parents who don’t believe chess can do their child any good?
I encourage parents to connect their children to chess because it’s a life companion. Unlike most sports that end at a certain age (usually around 35), they can keep playing chess no matter how old they get.
Noha is a certified Health Coach by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and a passionate mother of two. Through her blog, she hopes to empower families and parents to lead a healthy, happy and well balanced life inside out.