Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Connecting" with my son

My new job has kept me extremely busy and it has been several months since my last post, but I wanted to quickly update on my son's training.  A few months ago I posted how I decided to use a different approach to teaching my two sons than I used to train my two daughters.  Instead of using Lev Alburt's comprehensive chess course and getting right into full games, we are spending the first two years focusing on basic board vision using the three levels of vision and the six piece interactions:

Three Levels of Vision
  1. Bottom-up perception.  See the individual piece AND how it moves as one inseparable unit.  See the lines of power (like an aura) emanating from the piece.
  2. Top-down processing.  See the six functional relationships between the pieces (see below).
  3. Interconnected system.  See the entire board as (5 to 6) groups of pieces with functional relationships (not unconnected sets of individual pieces).
Six Piece Interactions (or "connections")
  1. Allied pieces:  (1) directly defend, (2) defend by blocking, and (3) limiting (interfering)
  2. Enemy pieces:  (4) attack pieces, (5) attack important squares (restriction), and (6) physical blockade 
Phase 1 spanned the last 14 months and focused on the first two kinds of vision -- seeing a piece AND the squares it can move to as one unit, and understanding the relationships between the pieces on the board.  

One tiny revelation I had in teaching my son had to do with the relationships between the pieces.  Simple terms like "attack" and "defend" were not a problem, but other terms like "limiting/interfering, restricting, blockade" were confusing him.  So...

My son loves legos.  His room is packed floor to ceiling with Scooby Doo, Star Wars, and Minecraft sets that he and I have spent hundreds of hours building together.  So I decided to use the term "connect" to help him see and understand the relationships between chess pieces.  

I first say "connect" for all chess relationships on the board, and once he sees a connection I then switch to use the correct term.  That way I can describe a single group of many pieces that have various connections (attacking, defending, blocking, limiting, etc).  This approach has worked great for us!

Phase 1 is now finished and my son (now 5) has completed the Step Method Stepping Stones 1, Sukhin's Chess Camp 1, and is roughly half way done with two Peshka programs (simple captures, and simple defense).

Phase 2 will cover the next year, and we will include Step Method Stepping Stones 2, Sukhin's Chess Camp 2 and 3, and we will continue with those two Peshka programs and will add other Peshka programs with mate in ones and mate defense.  

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