The Mental Health Benefits of Working with Children
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
We often discuss how our students benefit from learning chess in the classroom. Learning chess helps to enhance focus, improve memory, and exercise both sides of the brain. Something we discuss less often, however, is how Mindful Chess lessons can benefit our teachers.
Today, more and more people are taking it upon themselves to look after their mental health alongside their physical health. Even the most confident, organized individuals have off days and in the modern climate, it is more important than ever to practice self-care and understanding. Part of this effort is making positive changes to lifestyle that strengthen our sense of wellbeing.
At Mindful Chess, we view teaching as a gift. Yes, teaching can present the same stresses as any other job alongside the unique pressures of looking after children. Nonetheless, we believe that working with children offers some extraordinary benefits when it comes to mental health. Here are some of the key rewards we have selected based on our own collective experience in the classroom.
The Chance to Make a Difference
First and foremost, teaching provides us with a wonderful opportunity to help children. Beyond teaching chess skills, lessons provide children with the space to explore stimulating new challenges and increase their confidence and concentration both inside and outside of the classroom. Being part of this provides a special feeling of purpose. To teach is to help shape a new generation of thinkers and for us, the chance to make a genuine positive difference in a child’s life is what it’s all about.
Teaching Can Improve Confidence
It is estimated that 75% of the population has a fear of public speaking. As a teacher, one must stand in front of a class of children and speak with confidence and authority… every lesson. This may seem like a daunting thought but generally, children are far more forgiving of mistakes and if you have prepared well, they will naturally be engaged and excited by what you have to say.
Working with children is thus an excellent way to improve confidence and explore different techniques when it comes to public speaking. What’s more, the chances are that if you do horribly stumble over your words, the class will innocently giggle. This is not them judging you but it is rather their own little way of reminding you not to take yourself too seriously. Everyone makes mistakes and it is OK to laugh at yourself from time to time. Sometimes it takes the reassuring smile of a child to remind us of this.
The Added Bonus of Joy
Finally, teaching offers many opportunities to experience and share joy. We are not saying that every lesson will be a breezy walk in the park, but there are few things more rewarding than sharing what you love with attentive young minds.
Children typically navigate life with a wide-eyed optimism that is genuinely refreshing to behold, especially as a "boring grown-up". Being around children can be a wholesome reminder of the simple joys of life. Above all though, the feeling of helping a child learn and grow can be an invaluable addition to your day.