ADHD involves problems in three domains (not necessarily all three): attention, impulse control and hyperactivity.
Solving puzzles and playing simple strategy games can be an excellent way of helping children with these issues while ensuring they have fun at the same time.
- Many young children have problems with impulse control. Playing strategy games gives an immediate reward for controlling your impulses. If you keep yourself under control, stop and think before playing your move, you’ll be rewarded by winning the game. If you play too quickly, don’t think, don’t look at the board before you play your move, you’ll lose.
- It’s very much the same thing with attention. If you’re not paying attention, not focusing, not concentrating, your mind is elsewhere, again you’ll make a mistake and lose the game. Playing some of the minichess games will provide children with practice in developing their attention skills.
- There are also some children who have difficulty concentrating, but can focus intently on a particular interest. In some cases, that particular interest might be chess.
- Children with attention problems are sometimes overly distracted by external sensory stimuli. Chess takes place in a low sensory environment in which many children will find it easier to maintain focus and concentration.
- While children who are physically hyperactive, constantly fidgeting or getting out of their seat, might not be welcome in a serious chess tournament, playing minichess could be very helpful in teaching them the importance of controlling their hyperactivity.
For most young children I’d recommend starting with minichess rather than ‘big chess’. These lessons are better learnt by playing simple games which children will, with improved concentration and impulse control, be able to master, rather than a very hard game such as ‘big chess’. Children can, if they want and when they’re ready, move onto ‘big chess’ later.