Getting kids into self-organization. The technological way.

Rafa Garcia — №24 with James Tonn

In my previous article for Productive, I introduced Kanban Kids as an enjoyable way to improve our home life and to prepare our children for their future.

One of the things my wife and I like most about our children’s school is the way students are taught to be responsible and organized about their chores. That is exactly the point of all this stuff: growing up knowing how to set objectives and to manage tasks according to them. A valuable ability obtained for the rest of their life. At least as valuable as language, history or maths.

A very effective way of getting kids into this issue is technology. They are so naturally used to tablets, laptops or consoles that they will enjoy collecting commissions as much as if they were Super Mario collecting coins.

If they like interacting with physical Kanban boards, they’ll love being the main character in a world made of both fun and duties.

A main advice: till now, my focus has been knowledge workers. Current knowledge workers. Not future ones. So, small people organization is a world I’m venturing into now. As I have two young volunteers at home, more exploration and articles are to come.

Now. Technological Kanban kids. Let’s specify. Michael (Editor: That’s me :)!), be aware of this: at this moment, there are only a few options in the market. Far fewer (and greener) than for adults. Maybe an N4K (Nozbe 4 Kids) would be a great future doorway into the current Nozbe for adults …

Inspired by chore charts, some chore apps are coming to the market. Chore chart vs. chore app. There is a difference. Chore charts are already popular (mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries) and we have a whole range of possibilities. Even Microsoft provides a Word template for a family chore chart.

Chore apps are strongly based on the concept of gamification, so much in fashion today. Parents or even children themselves create and assign different tasks for each person. When children enter the app with their username and password, they discover their pending work.

As they complete their tasks, they earn some kind of reward: points, stars or whatever. And points can afterwards be changed for real prizes: a cinema evening, a visit to the pizza restaurant, some books, or even money for their savings.

Different options are also available depending on age range.

For the youngest ones (5—11 years), we have iReward and ChoreMonster

iRewardis an interactive chart for mobile devices. Parents establish different rewards and their star prices: a book, ten stars; a crayon set, five stars; an ice cream cone, two stars … Children earn stars by doing their jobs (e.g. helping mom, laying the table, etc.) and can spend their profits on their favorite prizes. Nice and educative. But maybe not as playful as ChoreMonster.

ChoreMonster is more focused on young people. They win not only points, but also different funny monsters (some of them even fart from time to time). Its interface is based on big and colorful icons and cartoons. Their slogan is “Your kids will beg to do chores!”

For teenagers (12—16 years), we can talk about Myjobchart and iAllowance

Myjobchart introduces teenagers to the concept of saving. As they earn their points (same philosophy: parents approve tasks once the tasks are done), the teens decide what to do with them: save, share (with different charity organizations) or use them to buy Amazon products. In this case, I’m afraid parents are the exchange office turning points into euros or dollars.

iAllowance offers a beautiful old blackboard interface. It is an iPad/iPhone app. Not even a web app. And it functions like a kind of market in which parents and children exchange favours and points or … dollars.

Anyway, the goal of this article is not a technological evaluation. Applications are only tools. Getting kids to stay on top of their chores/obligations. That’s the idea. And a combination of hardware boards and software chore apps can be the right choice for your family. Please let me know about your own experience!

Photo: Devon Christopher Adams

Rafa garcia

Rafa Garcia

Rafa García helps knowledge workers improve their self-organization. His work is inspired by the best classical authors in combination with cutting-edge technology and his engineering background. He is committed to a practical and realistic approach. Rafa and his wife Bea work hard raising their children, Dulce and Miguel, in the beautiful city of La Coruña, Spain.

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