Proud of My Chess Club Dropout

Proud of My Chess Club Dropout

When my analytical kindergartener heard Chess Club was being offered as an after school activity; it was all he could talk about for weeks.  I eagerly signed him up because chess is more than a game; it is a way of thinking strategically.  He did miss the first class because it was Rosh Hashanah and although I contacted the company to express my concern that he would be behind, they didn’t seem to care.  (Would you schedule a first class on New Year’s or Good Friday?)

After his first day, my boy left bouncing down the hallway with an ear to ear smile on his face.  When I asked if he had fun at Chess Club; he excitedly told me he got a cookie at the end.  The cookie was supposedly shaped like a chess board, but still that was all he took away from the hour. 

The next Thursday I got a call that my child had a stomachache and needed to be picked up early from Chess Club. 

The Thursday after that he was in tears as I walked up the stairs to pick him up.

Then he told me he was made fun of for being easy to beat.

This Thursday I told him he didn’t have to go to Chess Club.

I know how important it is for children to learn about hard work.  I worry that allowing him to quit Chess Club, I am saying it is okay to give up.  I love my boy and after a long intense day at school, I don’t want to force him to go somewhere or do something he does not feel comfortable with. It is never fun to do anything you aren’t good at.

Then I worry he will never get any better unless he tries.  My daughter has been taking ballet for about a year and I’ve seen improvement, but every week she enjoys going and I don’t have to force her to put on her ballet shoes and leotard.  Likewise, I never feel forced to go to yoga.  I go because I want to learn more about inversions and mantras. I wish my son can find an activity that he feels passionate for. 

Clearly I am no Tiger Mom, but am I being too relaxed?


Leave a comment
  • No, your a great mom. He probably was easy to beat because he is only in kindergarten and the other ones are older. He will find something that he loves and the fact that he was excited to try something new, shows that he will try again.

  • First of all, HE'S FIVE.

    There's a big difference between a 5-year-old in Chess Club after a long day of school and a 12-year-old who wants to quit soccer because her team lost once.

    Second -- to everything there is a season: a time to quit and a time to power ahead. The trick to effective parenting is figuring out which this is.

    When Aislin was 4 she started taking karate. She begged and begged to take karate. So we signed her up. Right around the time she started kindergarten she started saying she didn't want to go, I had to force her to put on her gi, she was inattentive in class, etc. I decided to let her quit even though I felt that martial arts was good for her. Here's why:

    1) things in her life had changed. She went from 4 half-days preschool to full-time kindergarten. That's a lot of sitting still and following instructions for a little kid.
    2) I figured if I let her take a break now then she would be less likely to develop negative emotions about the whole thing and will want to go back someday.

    Third point -- I think our culture way undervalues the importance of unscheduled, idle time. I believe our children need unstructured play time in order for their creativity to flourish. And creativity doesn't have to mean artsy-ness. An analytical kid like yours can also be creative. Let him enjoy some free play time.

    If the passion for chess is there, he'll revisit it later. In the meantime, why not buy him a small chess set for home. Get to know the movements of the pieces and maybe some simple strategies?

  • fb_avatar

    Chess is a complicated sport. I didn't start to feel good at it until high school. I wouldn't worry, let him quit and pick it up at his own pace, he'll go back to it soon enough.

  • I'm a mom and a chess club coach! I can tell you first hand that kindergarten is a pretty tricky age to pick up the game. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about, my club is full of kindergarteners and 1st graders who like to stage battles on the board between the horsies. This should be a game that your kid plays because he loves to play, and when he's ready, he'll like it. Meantime, Christine Whitley's Third point.

  • In reply to Julie:

    Thank you for your feedback, it has helped me to feel better about my decision. As a coach, would you suggest I contact his chess club teachers to explain why he isn't continuing?

Leave a comment