The workbooks basic and plus contain exercises matching the lessons of the manual. Workbook extra repeats the subjects of workbook basic and can be used for studenst who need extra training, but also to keep really fast students busy during class. Workbook mix is one big test to see if a student can implement the learned knowledge when no subject is given and is more similar to real game situations. Workbook thinking ahead trains visualisation. A skill needed to calculate variations.
It is not recommended. The workbooks plus have different, more difficult subjects then the basic workbooks. You can consider workbook basic and plus as one book, but because getting a new book keeps children motivated and the feeling they are making progress, the books stay seperated.
As long as possible! Teachers familiar with Chess-Steps easily take a year for just the Step 1 serie. Of course it is possible to teach all subjects of a step in a couple of months, but teaching all subject does not mean a student has learned them all. When you notice a student implementing the learned knowledge into their games, they are ready for the next step.
Although there is a correlation between rating and step, rating is not the deciding factor which step a student should follow. For a student rated 500, workbook step 1 basic will be easy, but workbook plus and especially mix can still be a challenge. You do not have to reach a rating of 800 to start with Step 2. Being sufficient in Step 1 is key.
The workbooks get updated more often then the manuals, because they get sold a lot more (and both are printed in bulk). We strive to have an up to date downloadable answers sheet on the website for the newest versions. If you need the answers of a different version or notice mistakes, please contact us.
Children do not learn the coordinates faster when they are shown around the board. They do distract however, especially young children. Studies even show the process of getting the coordinates automated in your brain, takes longer when they are shown around the board and sometimes never get automated at all. The goal is not just to know the coordinates of each square, but to be able to calculate with them. Bxc6, Nxc6, Qh5+, instead of 'this' move, 'that' move, 'this' move. Mentioning the coordinates in your mind when thinking ahead will lead to less mistakes.
Advice: Do spend time and lessons on learning and practising the coordinates!