Project Management for Children
Project management is not the exclusive domain of certified professionals. Everyday, in fact, children are actively involved in these tasks. Many times they are not implementing the whole set of phases and tasks. Instead, they usually implement a simple subset of tasks. This is true of school assignments, fun construction activities and other childhood pursuits.
Simple project management techniques often work very well for children. Their projects tend to be relatively small when measured in staff resources, cost and schedule. There is often little risk associated with these. For example, schedules can often be extended with little effect. This is obviously true of a personal jobs such as a tree fort construction.
Children learn quickly that scope has a very significant bearing on their success. They may initially include an expanded scope and even add items making the project extremely complex. As they realize that the scope is beyond their ability to complete, they learn to scale it back. This is an axiom of simplicity. Children can be taught to implement better projects. Parents, teachers and siblings can often do so in an informal way. Instruction in the ideas of simple project management may be very useful to children. Parents and teachers can easily incorporate these concepts into lessons.
Children will understand concepts much better when the simple techniques are emphasized. Templates that pertain to large commercial projects are often quite useless to a child’s project. Items like communications plans, risk registers, quality assurance methods and others are likely to be beyond the concern of a child. This is especially true for those projects implemented by very young children.
Schools often establish work for children but fail to provide project management direction to children. If the child is lucky enough to have a teacher or parent experienced in project management techniques, they may have a mentor to consult when working on the project. If not, the child is destined to perhaps stumble in the execution of their work.
As children get older, their school projects become more complex. They begin to work in project teams for larger assignments that may span a considerable amount of time. While there is a natural tendency for the children to improve their project work, formal training in scope, schedule and quality controls can really help children deliver quality projects on time. It is often much easier to understand the various project processes when children receive actual instruction specific to them.
With the available project management resources available to parents and teachers, it will be relatively easy to formulate a training plan for children. Nearly every library will contain project management texts that can be used as reference material for children. The parent or teacher should analyze the set of project management processes in such texts and determine suitable subsets that might apply to a child’s project. This will be dependent on the complexity of the project. Often processes eliminated from consideration early may need to be re-introduced to the project later. This is quite acceptable. It is much easier for children to start with a simpler set of project management activities and add more later. This lets the child concentrate on particular deliverables early. As more complexity is specifically needed, it can be incorporated into the project as appropriate.
Many children will eventually become important project managers in the future. Some will become Eagle Scouts and other roles that are completely involved with specification and implementation of significant projects. These children will benefit greatly from formal project instruction at quite an early age. Almost all children will benefit if they learn simple project management techniques. As they develop these skills and undertake ever more complicated projects, they can use practically the whole set of formal project management practices.
With appropriate project management training and experience, children can be guided towards better performance. This will allow better organization as well. The child will be better able to keep their projects under control. This will have a great impact on them. Project work is generally a requirement for school work. As the student reaches higher educational institutes such as college or university, projects are a frequent obligation. With proper training and experience, such project work will be executed in a timely fashion with adequate quality performance measures ensured.
As educational funding is likely to be difficult, especially for lower school grades, parents should be concerned enough to obtain study materials for their children. If the school library doesn’t contain adequate materials, be sure to investigate the local public library for additional items. Many of the libraries are connected to online materials as well. These may be great ways to emphasize the scope, quality and schedule issues for children.
Project Management for Children