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The power of motivation in Chess?

Jan 12, 2016

Motivation is an extremely powerful tool when it is used correctly. To begin with, our
motivations are unbelievably interesting, they are engaging, surprising and little bit freaky!

For today, let’s talk about the young ones, our children - what motivates them and how can we, as parents help them in this essential part of life? And, how do we motivate children to learn, and have fun while playing Chess?


Well, children are not as endlessly manipulatable and as predictable as you would think. There's a whole set of unbelievably interesting aspects in motivation for children.
Let's first talk about mastery - our urge to get better at something. We enjoy getting better at various things. This is why people play musical instruments on the weekends. But doesn’t that seem strange - why do people play musical instruments or video games or dance? In the
majority of cases, these things won’t make them any money, so what’s the point?

It's because of fun. Because getting better at something is immensely satisfying. People give their time and effort not for material gain, but for the satisfaction of getting better at what they do. And children are not that different in this area.

What's going on? Why do people do this? That's a strange behavior. Economists have looked
into it and it appeared overwhelmingly clear - challenge and mastery, along with making a
contribution, that's it. Well, the very same principles apply to children – if they are having fun learning – they will be motivated to become even better at it.

And if we look at Chess, which is an incredibly beneficial game, we can notice that for a child to keep playing, some variety is needed. This is because the attention span of children is much shorter compared to adults and they get bored faster.

There are many ways to get more variety with chess and here are some of them:

Use a wooden chess board – There are a ton of difference in teaching kids online, virtually,and teaching them on a real chess board. Playing on, say, a wooden chess board with a friend or family member is a great way to catch up on what’s new or to talk about interesting subjects.
This way of learning chess is considered to be more beneficial and involves multiple senses, compared to the boring stare-at-the-screen approach of online learning. 

Here's our take on the differences: A Tale of Two Chess Boards



Watch an inspiring movie that involves chess


Movies with elements of chess in them can quickly awaken a child's imagination. For example, when the first movie for Harry Potter came out and it featured a life sized chess game – which inspired many children get a chess board, and learn the game. Another movie worth mentioning is “Long Live The Queen” which also features many elements of chess. In other words, by giving something truly magical and inspiring to your children - you will motivate them.



Invent mini-games:

First time chess players, find pleasure in playing the game more like pacman, than Chess. This is a healthy way to start, because it helps children to have fun while learning the game. Fun is the biggest motivator for children to play and learn the game. 

Chess activities can be designed to make the chess session fun. It can be a board game like Raindrop or even a bughouse chess variant. 

Sometimes, you can also create your own chess activities with your kids. 

Just have both sides have all their pawns in the proper place and no other pieces. The winner is the first person to get a pawn to the other side of the board! - An enthusiastic kids chess trainer

No matter how young your children are – they will always find such activities fun, and have the motivation and drive to win! 


Here's an interesting discussion on the "competition" or letting your kid beat you at Chess - factor being discussed: 

My kids (11 and 8) have started learning chess. Is it a good idea to let them beat me sometimes to encourage them?


Motivating your child does not have to be a forced process, going with the flow is the main idea of motivation. By giving your child something to latch onto, you will see unprovoked enthusiasm and passion towards important and beneficial things in life.

How do you motivate your children to enjoy playing Chess? 

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