I'm in complete agreement with everything Andrew says.Andrew Varney wrote: ↑Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:37 amI don't have nearly as many years experience, nor am I at the same level, in teaching chess as the likes of Andrew Martin or Richard James, so please excuse me if what I say is too specific to the area and level I teach at.
My children got me into my new career and right from the beginning I have applied the same principles with my students as I have with my own children "if you win great, if you lose you learn". My own children, Zoe and Daniel, and some of my other students, have become quite good players over the years; others have not. Some have stopped playing, for various reasons.
I think it is very important not to hold the stronger players back, but it is equally important not to push others too much. It's all about giving the opportunities at the right level for the children. The most successful schools chess-wise that I've been involved with have offered ALL of a beginners' chess course, a recreational chess club and "squad" competitive chess playing against other schools and encouraging the children to take part in other chess tournaments on an individual basis. It's a real joy to teach a local state school and see the excitement of the class as they learn the basics, and equally so to see one of the school teams get through to a national final. It's fantastic when one of the stronger students plays at a top national level in his or her age group, but it's equally as rewarding when the pupil who has struggled for the last two terms finally delivers his (or her) first checkmate.
I did toy with the idea of running a "Chess for Parents" course (and would still love to give it a go if I could find the time), but it did not get a big welcome from those I approached, and I'm not so sure any more that it's needed. Parental support for their children in chess is key, but it does not actually have to be from the basis of knowing very much as long as they can encourage (and transport!) and have the advice to hand on where to get the resources (books, online, clubs, etc) that they need.
School clubs will only be really successful if schools are proactively involved. If you just have one club you'll have a mixture of beginners, social players and perhaps one or two competitive players. If you mix them all together it doesn't really work. If you try to be everything for everyone you end up being nothing for nobody.
At present I'm only doing two primary school clubs which at least go some way towards meeting my requirements. A year ago, one of them, at my suggestion, tried to set up a beginners' club but didn't get enough interest to make it viable. This is a large (3/4 form entry) primary school in an affluent London suburb. The other school has no interest at all in running more than one club.
Likewise, children will only be really successful if their parents are proactively involved. The younger they start the more help and support they'll need. At least 95% of parents of children in my primary school clubs have no interest at all in providing support beyond buying a book for their kids and playing the occasional low level game, probably setting the board up incorrectly and starting 1. h4 2. Rh3.
At Richmond Junior Club it's very different. All parents are, to a greater or lesser extent, supportive. They have to be as they're making the effort to come to us on a Saturday, whereas parents of children in school clubs just have to pick them up from school an hour later. We've been toying with the idea of running a parents' course at RJCC but it hasn't yet got off the ground. Quite a lot of our parents are themselves chess players.