One Kid’z Kanban Board

Jim BensonApplications, Featured, Primers12 Comments

Sometimes I tell my 6-year old daughter to clean her room. Then she argues, maybe runs to the next room, or she starts to clean up but gets bored, overwhelmed or distracted. Pretty soon she is playing or reading a book. The nagging starts again. This cycle is not fun for either of us.

There are plenty of “chore charts” on the market. They list full projects like “Clean Room” and give you a place to mark when the project is done. While they provide visual tracking, they otherwise do not ease the process. I use kanban at work for software development so I thought I would give it a try at home. Kanban can be used to break down big projects into manageable chunks — sub-tasks within the project. It requires that you finish one chunk before moving to the next.  Kanban has made “problem chores” easier and fun.

How it works
Materials
-White board or chalk board. Our phases are:
Ready – Total backlog of tasks. No limit.
Set – Tasks selected to do next. Limit 3.
Go – Tasks now in progress. Limit 1.
Done – Finished!
-Sticky notes.   We use one large sticky note for the Project and smaller stickies for Tasks within the Project. Can be shown as words or pictures.

Morgan first moves 3 tasks from “Ready” into the “Set” queue. She then pulls one of these into “Go” when she starts it. When the task is complete, she moves it to “Done,” replenishes the “Set” queue and pulls the next task into “Go.” When all tasks are done, move the large Project sticky note to Done.  That’s it!

kidzban chore board

kid with kidzban chore board

Keys to Success
1) The child should have some control. Maybe the parent can specify priorities but let the child pull tasks independently.
2) Involve the kid in the process. They can help come up with the tasks, create the board and the sticky notes.
3) Visible limits. Draw “slots” to show task limits.
4) Tasks should not be too easy or too hard. Set the child up for success.  Each task should be fairly quick. Manageable tasks and a clear completion goal mean the project is not so overwhelming.

Variations
-My daughter loves to race the clock. Use a timer to time each task and/or the whole project.
-For multiple kids, use colored flags or write initials on the board to show who is tackling which task. Joining forces is allowed! Up the limits as needed.
-Multiple projects (Bedtime Routine; Going to Grandma’s; etc) can be handled by adding horizontal lanes.
-If “quality control” is an issue, add a Gold Star lane for stories accepted by mom or dad. Or, put a sticker on the tasks in the Done lane to show this acceptance.

Does it always work?  No.  Sometimes she is tired of the kanban game and just wants to draw on the board. Still, between the traditional system of nagging and the new system of kanban, she typically prefers kanban.

Note: See also the Kidzban section of this web site.

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Jim BensonOne Kid’z Kanban Board

12 Comments on “One Kid’z Kanban Board”

  1. Tonianne

    Janice, thanks so much for sharing this. I super love how you map Morgan’s value stream with “Ready,” “Set,” “Go,” and incentivize/reward quality control with a gold star.

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  3. Barbara

    I’m really enjoying reading all the articles on this site…this one especially has piqued my interest to really give it a go and make it work in our house. It’s such a simple way of visualising tasks and kids can see that they are achieving something…I have three kids who I’m going to work with this on as their bedrooms are a constant source of irritation – especially my boy! As he’s highly competitive, I’m sure this will help him…and the two girls both need to learn to focus on a task and end up constantly allowing them selves to be sidetracked! I’m not expecting a cure-all but some positive movement forward would be good! Thanks for the ideas.

  4. Barbara

    I’m really enjoying reading all the articles on this site…this one especially has piqued my interest to really give it a go and make it work in our house. It’s such a simple way of visualising tasks and kids can see that they are achieving something…I have three kids who I’m going to work with this on as their bedrooms are a constant source of irritation – especially my boy! As he’s highly competitive, I’m sure this will help him…and the two girls both need to learn to focus on a task and end up constantly allowing them selves to be sidetracked! I’m not expecting a cure-all but some positive movement forward would be good! Thanks for the ideas.

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  6. Rodrigo Yoshima

    Nice job! This is cool. Really cool! I’ve tried something similar with my 5 and 7 years old daughters but was a complete failure. It was more like that Supernanny’s “score board”. 😛

  7. kanplan.net

    Hi,
    I just want to share with you an android app that I made for my 3 kids. It is based on kanban principals, and made it for my kids to organize their homework and visualize their work in progress, my daughter had issues in school 2 years ago for organizing and keep focus on her work to be done. She has been using KanBan principals for the last 2 years, and worked so well and decided to build an app for her. My other 2 kids loved it and starting using it as well… Lot of friends ask to share it, so decided to publish it in Android Google Play for them, the app is free.
    Hope you will enjoy it as much as my kids are doing!

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