A blog with useful tips by Juan Arias, Graphic Designer at The British School in The Netherlands. Juan applies his work tools at home and creates an interactive way to manage his sons’ homeschooling and other activities.
Day 1 of Homeschooling
Dear Mary, I will look into the design flow and see how we can…
[Kid 1] “PAPA, PAPA, PAPA!”
[Kid 1] “What do I need to do next?”
“No lo se, have you done your Maths exercises?”
[Kid 1] “I think so.”
“Let’s look in your workbook.”
15 MINUTES Later….
“Right, where was I?”
New Message: Dear Mary, I will look into this and see how we can make the design better for…
[Kid 2] “PAPA! I am bored.”
“Ok, what can you do next?”
[Kid 2] “I don’t know.”
Helping your children stay on top of their schoolwork
This situation repeated itself several times over the day, causing both me and my wife to get next to nothing done during the 1st day of working and learning from home during the Corona crisis.
Sure, my children have a plan created by their teachers which we printed and placed for them to be able to see and follow. However, a spreadsheet is not easy to read, is not always visual or interactive enough for kids to be interested.
How did I organise my sons? The same way that I organize my workflow or any project that I lead.
Let’s do Scrum for Kids
The concept of Scrum is very simple, grab an empty wall or window in your house and create a minimum of 3 rows or lists. I use To-Do, Work in Progress (WiP) and Done.
Now, pick some Post-Its and write a task per post-it and put them under the To-Do list. When your child is going to start with a task, they can put it on the WiP list. Once they have achieved the task, they move it to the Done list.
You can make this as easy or complicated as you want. If the child has a big task it helps to divide it into smaller tasks to be able to focus on achieving steps of the process. This is especially important for kids so that they see progress.
For our children, these three lists work. We added colour coding to their tasks: each child has their own colour Post-Its. They can also offer a helping hand in the house (which has its own third colour.)
The real challenge is keeping it up on the parent side. Simple things like resetting the board every morning are key. It’s work, but it’s also giving kids a great way to stay organised that will benefit them later in life (I believe) – by giving them access to different methods of organisation.
Now let’s test it
My two sons both embraced the system from day one. They were happy and excited to start their tasks and motivated to move Post-Its from the To-Do to the Done list. Not only did we include their school tasks but we also put things in there like sports and reading. We even snuck a couple of tasks to help papa and mama – like making the bed or feeding the dog and tidying their rooms.
This worked very well for 2 days, but by day three I noticed that they were starting to lose interest.
We needed to evolve the game plan…
The Reward System
At school, the teachers reward the students with awards or star stickers when they do a good job. So we decided to reward them with points for their efforts. My children are very competitive so we explained that everyone gets a prize; the more points they get, the bigger the reward.
They will receive 10 points for completing all of their school work and extra points for helping around the house. We have tasks to help them achieve things they would normally be reluctant to do.
- Taking the dog with papa or mama is our excuse to take them out of the house for some fresh air (social distancing applies).
- Helping papa or mama to cook is the perfect chance for them to try new dishes that they would normally be reluctant to try. (You’d be surprised to see how much more willing your child is to try something new if he has prepared it himself.)
I have not figured out what the reward for their points will be, but I am open to suggestions.
Our experience so far
By introducing scrum to our children’s daily organisation they are achieving more tasks in less time, they can see really clearly what they can do next and you can see they feel really proud when they look at their Done list.
It also helps children make the learning and activities process visual and gives them their own responsibility. They are the guardians of their own process and schedule.
For me and my partner, this translates into fewer interruptions while working and an easy way to create more time and space for activities with the family. Especially if cooking, board games and dog walking are part of the tasks.
Scrum for adults
Some useful tools
The Scrum framework can be used in many production settings like big projects or your general workflow. You can use it with your children or in your household. Need to organise a house moving, a long trip or even a party? Scrum might help you.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you visualize this and don’t require a wall in your house or office.
Here is a list of great workflow organisation tools
About the author
Juan Arias is the Graphic Design Lead for The British School in The Netherlands. He led the last TEDx event for the BSN. Spanish born, he has been in the Netherlands for 10 years and working in Graphic Design for 21 years. He enjoys drawing, travelling and basketball. He lives in Voorburg with his wife, two sons and dog.