In spending months and years of time in training, parents will often ask the question: "How is my child doing?" A very fair question as it involves investing precious time on the student's part and money on the parent's part in pursuing this interest of playing chess. So how does one answer this question? Is chess progress quantifiable?
I for one do not base everything just on results alone - it is too narrow a yardstick. Results from tournaments are often the quickest way of establishing the performance of the student, yet there are some intangible traits which should also be noticed, primarily in the student's behaviour, his outlook not just on chess but on other matters as well.
How about presence of mind for one? I've seen many of my students taking better care of their belonging now, being more forthcoming with questions rather than just listening. These are all encouraging traits that chess can help inculcate - a higher self-esteem, goal-oriented focus, being more pensive rather than impulsive. If we can foster these qualities in our young, it would be a lot more beneficial to them in their later years. Striving for one's goals and achieving them does wonders to one's self confidence of course, but we should also educate our students to face defeat in the right spirit. Learning from failure in chess is almost mandatory for one to succeed in later events, being objective about one's abilities is also important in assessing one's capabilities before embarking on another tournament. Those who discern these life lessons would end up being better students than the ones standing on the podium who know nothing about disappointment and loss, for often their fall is a lot more traumatic and scarring.
Values - that's the other aspect that coaches often neglect. Good values like being honest in owning up a mistake (especially in a touch-move situation), being able to congratulate one's opponent for his/her win, respecting the decision of the organisers even though they may not be right at the time..the list goes on. Learning to be accountable for one's actions (as opposed to blaming everything and everyone else) is also a sign of maturity.
Are these not wonderful qualities that we would want to see in our youths?