I'll start by saying that I believe all children benefit from learning and playing strategy games.

Chess, to be honest, isn't really suitable for many young children. The rules are relatively complex, the aim of the game is very abstract, there are far too many possibilities every move and games can take a long time to complete.

It's best for most children to start with simple strategy games such as Noughts and Crosses (Tic Tac Toe) and gradually move onto more complex games. Children who enjoy games of this nature and want something more challenging can then be introduced to chess.

There are also many games using a subset of the pieces and rules of the complete game which you can play with younger children. Some of them can also be challenging for older children. You can learn about some of them here.

My opinion is that the current craze for teaching chess to very young children is misguided. It can work well for some exceptionally talented children with very supportive parents. For most children, though it's better to wait. Starting at 10 is better than starting at 15, but in most cases there are few advantages and many potential disadvantages in starting at 5 rather than 10.

The younger your children start the harder they will find it to understand, the more parental support they will need, and the more likely they are to get stuck, become frustrated and give up.

For most bright children, somewhere between 7 and 9 would be a good time to start.

What I'd suggest you do is this: start by identifying your child's level of cognitive development. You can do this simply by playing Noughts and Crosses. Children who regularly make mistakes, failing to notice your threats or failing to complete a line when the chance arises, are not yet ready for chess.

You'll find my original course in online interactive format at chessKIDS academy and it's also the basis of my books Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids.

My new course is designed specifically for parents preparing their children for their school chess club and perhaps beyond that. It's a more serious course based on worksheets designed to ensure that children develop chessboard vision and start to grasp the logic of the game.

Visit our DOWNLOADS page to download our free course and other materials.