Why Teach Children Project Management?
Once children develop a habit or other bit of learning, they can take it with them into adulthood. Teaching children about project management will help the young person develop good project management skills for the future. Think of the many times you have had to tell your child to start homework or finish a school project. By developing good project processes, you only need to refer to that process to get kids started (“Did you plan what you wanted to do for your school project;" “Have you checked your math homework?"). The idea is to get the child to associate that process with a step in the project rather than the entire project. As one person once told me, it is better to eat the elephant bit at a time rather than all at once (not that I am condoning eating an elephant – they are probably pretty tough).
What would be a good gauge of learning for a child that undertakes learning about project management? The closing of the project on time and on budget would be a great barometer to learning. That is how real project managers are evaluated, why should a child be any different?
I remember when I was 12 my friend and I wanted to buy some slot car equipment, so we looked around for some moneymaking ventures. We asked people if they wanted yardwork done, but even getting a dollar for such work was too costly on time for us so we sat around and tried to think of some other methods.
My friend said that his father was a truck driver and had gathered the remnants of “sink holes" that were Formica (a plastic type of covering over fiberboard that was stronger than many plastics and more malleable). The remnants were circular, approximately 20 inches in diameter and we both came up with the same idea – end tables. We would buy wooden table legs at a local hardware store, placed the legs and sell the tables. We could even stain the legs or paint them a particular color. We smoothed the sides of the circles, attached the hardware (a couple of screws) and sold the tables for a profit; enough to get what we needed in the way of slot car equipment.
After a few months, our parents asked about the tables and we both said that we had sold enough to get what we wanted. They wanted us to pursue it further, but we had achieved our goal – project finished on time and on schedule.
We knew what we wanted, put together the project and refined it as we went along. Children are eager to do this, hence their infatuation with video games that bring results based on goals, whether those goals are conquering an imagined country or obtaining money to buy something.
You teach children project management because everything in our life is a project, whether it is getting into school, earning a degree, landing a job or making it to retirement. Look at these books and share them with your children. I assure you that they will not be the only ones to learn something from the texts. You, too, may gather some beneficial ideas for future projects. Out of the mouths of babes, as the saying goes.