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Chess Coaches and Kids

From: Victor T.
Sent on: Monday, September 12, 2011 10:37 AM
I have been thinking about this topic for a while but it never seems
to come up in conversations or publication and if you think about
it... who REALLY wants to talk about it?  It is a sensitive but
important topic for uss chess parents.  In any case, it is a common
sense topic.  All this is just my personal opinion.

Chess Coaches and Kids

This is not about coaching itself or the style or the content or the
training method.  This is about safety and prudence - for both the
parent and the coach.

I was asked once by a member of Ashburn CC (who was a stronger than
average player) what thoughts I might have on his starting to coach a
young child.  We discussed several topics which included curriculum,
ability of the child to maintain concentration and parental
expectations.  Then he told me that his student was female and that
triggered a whole set of safety/legal subtopics.  In hindsight, it
doesn't matter what the gender of the student is, the safety and
security aspect is still present.

The choice of coaching location in my opinion one of the most
important.  My preference was the public location that wasn't too
noisy.  As a parent, I feel more comfortable that way.  I don't know
what may be in a coach's home and at my home, I may get distracted and
want to do something else when the coach is with my kid.  Simply put,
at a public place with people around, there will probably be a witness
(or security camera) to anything that might happen or just as
importantly, credence that something did NOT happen.  This will help
protect the child and the coach both from a safety and legal

That being said, have I ever had my child get coaching at a non-public
place?  Yes, I have but I knew those coaches well and trusted them.
The only danger was that one of them had a dog which was an aggressive
provider of wet smotherings ;-)

So, some of the questions that you might want to ask yourself as a parent are:

1. How long have I known this coach personally?
2. How long has anyone else known this coach?
3. Is he/she willing to give references - whether from students or
organizations or schools?
4. Does he/she have any coaching or tournament experience?
5. Is this person new to the area?
6. Does this coach actually have a business?
7. Does this person already have a job working with kids? (e.g. school
teacher, day care)
8. Perhaps useful in our area, does this person have a job that
requires some kind of background/security check?

I am not saying that they have to get checkmarks on all of the
questions or that they guarantee or prove or disprove anything.  Chess
coaches can be hard enough to find already.  My key point is that you
as a chess parent need to ask yourself these questions and are
comfortable with the answers that you get.  Note that I am not even
addressing the traditional coach selection questions.

Yes, it is an unpleasant topic but I felt that it was at least
necessary to touch on this topic.  Comments are welcome at
[address removed]

Just another chess parent

-- Victor Tan

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