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What would be the essential elements of project management you would teach to kids? And how would you teach them?

Would there be a difference in teaching approach for 10-12 year olds vs 12-16 year olds? For instance, would the topic of risk management be more elaborated for the latter?

  • 1
    This question is great, hands down. What I'm struggling to see is how it could fit better into PMSE without invalidating the proposed answers. I mean, is it a real project management issue to teach PM to kids? – Tiago Cardoso Oct 5 '14 at 13:11
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In my opinion, kids should be encouraged to develop skills like leadership, communication, etc.

This will be very necessary in the future (to a PM role or not).

Having these skills developed is more important than teaching project management elements.

Anyway, you can develop these skills and teach some essentials project management elements by assigning them (as PM) to a "dummy project" like developing a science project or something else from school or even planning a party as Arturo exemplified. Also, ask them to present the project results to you or to your family members.

  • They will develop their leadership, communication and other interpersonal skills;
  • They will learn how to manage projects (and the project elements like time management, scope, risk management, etc);
  • They will achieve the project objective (i.e. the science project or some other educative activity);
  • And they will learn to handle any activity in the future as a project.

All of this is worth if the kid is enjoying doing this. Don't force anything.

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    I strongly disagree concerning leadership. It will only exacerbate the kids' competitive mind, and that's not really a good thing in my opinion. – Alexis Dufrenoy Mar 24 '11 at 13:30
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    It depends how it is encouraged, as a Father/Mother you should encourage leadership in a good way with respect, ethic and many other virtues. That's why I mentioned book "The Servant" on this question. – Johnny Mar 24 '11 at 15:05
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    Leadership can be viewed as intrinsically positive. To view it otherwise is to force a culture of failure, ultimately. – Smandoli Mar 25 '11 at 18:04
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I think to teach the relationship between Time. Cost, Scope and Quality is the base for project management. Also, the main processes, Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Control and Closing can be taught by an exercise of planning a party. I think it would be excellent for kids from 10 to 16.

I think PM should be taught starting at that age, because it is a skill that everyone should develop for their professional and personal advantage.

  • I'd add in the concept of Dependencies too - can't put a roof on a house without walls. – JBRWilkinson Mar 28 '11 at 13:26
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No real experience in teaching youngsters but I did have to explain to my 12 year old brother the elements of Project Management.

My theory was focused on 3 key components;

  1. Plan
  2. Implement the plan
  3. Monitor the processes

To illustrate these points to him I use the example of a Chef in a restaurant which has been given the project of delivering a special menu for a particular event.

1. Planning - The Chef brakes down the event to identify the end customers, their food preferences, quality expectations, number of customers attending the event, available assets (food, appliances...) Once all components of the project have been put together the Chef gathers the team and proceeds to:

  • Assign Workloads
  • Create timelines
  • Supply Chain and Set Up Logistics

2. Implementing the plan - At this stage the Chef needs to ensure that all his/her staff understand what they are responsible of doing, when, and how. Elements included in this phase are:

  • Sourcing and Purchasing
  • Processing

3. Monitor the processes - Finally the Chef (PM) needs to stablish robust mechanisms to monitor processes and supervise groups to ensure the completion of the meal on time for the event and according to the requirements of the customers.

This could be an example to use with kids aged 10-14. I actually think that adding Risk Management, Budgeting and the financial aspects of a project would be well received by kids from 15 years old on since, quite often, this group starts managing their on finance at this age, and can have certain appreciation for financial constraints.

Good luck with them!!

2

I would think your language would change for the older class. In a class of 10 - 12 year olds, you might want to avoid using terms like risks. Just ask, 'what do you think might go wrong? and how could we (choose a strategy) that?'

I with 12 - 16 year olds they might have a better understanding of things like insurance. Good luck, as Johnny said, make sure they have fun, they will learn.

1

Teach by example. A good project manager manages almost everything as a project. Your kids will do the same if you give them a good example.

  • A project has a beginning and an end, so things that don't wouldn't apply. – BryanH Mar 24 '11 at 18:42
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    A good project manager can sometimes contrive a beginning and an end. That's called "turning it into bite-size pieces," or "Getting Things Done." – Smandoli Mar 25 '11 at 18:06

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