Games and learning go hand-in-hand. So, you shouldn't be surprised that education goes beyond just English, math, and science. In fact, checkers is a fabulous game to introduce children to build concentration, decision-making, strategizing, and impulse control. Learn many of the amazing educational benefits of checkers for kids.
Checkers Promotes Focus and Concentration
Those that play games, like chess and checkers, have a lot of focus, concentration, and patience. That's not just a coincidence. Why? Because kids need to pay attention to the board at all times. Not only do they think about their moves, but they need to consider their opponent's moves as well.
Not paying attention to what is happening on the board can quickly lead to losing a game piece or a missed opportunity. Therefore, as they play checkers and improve, children learn to concentrate on the game board and focus on the game itself. Once built, you can use this focus in other areas of learning, too.
Although checkers appears to be a simple, childish game, there is actually a lot of thought and strategizing necessary to play. A player must think ahead several moves, trying to predict his opponent's next move. Older children learn to force captures, sacrificing their own men to capture a king or trap the opposition. Thinking, "If I move here, she will do this," forces children to plan and consider the consequences of their actions, two skills that are essential for a quality life.
Although cloaked under the premise of a fun game, these strategizing sessions stimulate your child's brain. Planning and strategizing skills learned in a game easily translate into other areas of life.
Teaches Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
Problem-solving and decision-making skills take time for children to master. However, checkers helps to teach these skills through the disguise of a fun game. To advance their checkers skills, kids must learn to predict their opponent's moves and think several moves ahead to win. They must also logically plan their next move.
For example, they need to consider if moving to that space is beneficial or whether they want to sacrifice one piece to get another kinged. Through the trial and error of playing, kids learn to hone in on these skills so they can be the ultimate winner of the game. These skills go beyond the game board, too, like doing math or making decisions for your future.
Expands Memory Recall
When you are amidst a full-out checkers war with your friend, you might not realize you are using memory recall. But checkers takes a lot of memory. There are dozens of different moves and strategies you can use to win, and you must remember them all. Additionally, you need to be clear on the rules so you don't cheat. As children play, they are using all these skills to expand and sharpen their memory and build their imagination. Keeping a brain sharp is important.
Teaches Turn-Taking and Patience
For younger children, you can use checkers to help them learn to take turns. Players must wait patiently while their opponent thinks out their next move. To a young child, that wait can seem like a lifetime! The ability to sit quietly and politely while waiting for his turn will serve your child in school and on teams for many years to come.
Improves Impulse Control
Kids can be impulsive! Learning to control their impulses can be hard. However, this is one of the educational tools that makes checkers perfect for kids. Since checkers is all about strategy, taking the bait of your opponent can quickly lead to failure. Therefore, while your fingers are itching to take that piece, children need to take a step back and think about whether that easy move will help them in the long run. The better they come at checkers, the less they are tempted by those impulsive moves. For a child with ADHD or impulse control issues, checkers can be a vitally important game to help them throughout their life.
Builds Relationships and Social Skills
Although it isn't always considered an education, learning to get along well with others is just as important as learning the three R's (reading, writing, and arithmetic). As children play checkers, they interact with others and build positive relationships with friends at school, family members, and siblings. Kids must interact with others on the playground, at daycare, at school, and at home. As they grow older, they must get along with professors, co-workers, superiors, and spouses.
Power of Good Sportsmanship
Checkers is a head-to-head competition with a distinct winner and loser. And, losing is a hard pill for any child to swallow. Therefore, you can use checkers to help children build a sense of good sportsmanship. They quickly learn to accept their defeat and build their skills, so maybe they will be the winner next time. Understanding sportsmanship and becoming a good loser can be vitally important to several areas of education and mathematics. No one is perfect!
Promotes Pre-Math Skills
Checkers and its variations can teach important pre-math skills. These skills are important for preschool students or children who are slightly behind their peers in mathematics. For kids who have a firm grasp of pre-academics, the educational components of checkers are less tangible but just as valuable. Just a few math skills include:
- Sorting by color
- Directionals, such as forward, backward, and diagonal
- Cause and effect
- Logical thinking
Make Checkers for Kids Even More Educational
Checkers is educational for kids. However, if you want to make it a bit more educationally-focused and challenging, you can make a few non-official changes to the game. Depending on your child's age and ability, you might try the following:
- Players must answer a math problem before their turn.
- Players must spell words before their turn.
- Use flashcards between turns.
- Tape numbers or letters on the checkerboard squares. As your child lands on a square, he must read the letter or number before advancing.
- For children who already know the basic numbers and letters, turn things up a notch by taping math problems or words on the squares.
Online Checkers for Kids
Like many games in the world, checkers has gone viral. So, you can find different online variations of this popular board game. Some of these allow you to play against a computer, while others allow you to play with friends. Just a few tailored for children include:
- Toy Theatre - Designed with safe online learning in mind, Toy Theatre offers an online version of checkers where you can play against a computer or friend. This version has minimal ads for a child to accidentally click on, and other educational games are available.
- CBC Kids - This online checkers game offers a few checkers mastery options for computer and friend opponents. In addition to other educational games, the interface is very child-friendly.
- Math Is Fun - A K-12 educational gaming website, Math Is Fun offers more customization through the board. In addition to being able to choose your opponent, you also have the rules readily available.
Learning Is Fun With Checkers
Board games can be a lot of fun. And many, like checkers, are also educational. While it doesn't include English or science, it fosters important skills in impulse, logical thinking, patience, sharing, and socializing that are pivotal to success in school and careers.