What does Scrum have to do with child and youth work? Some people may wonder this when reading the title. So, let’s get to the bottom of this by taking a closer look at agile work, especially, with regard to using elements from Scrum in child and youth work by the example of a children’s holiday program from the association Brückenhaus e.V.
The children’s holiday program of the Brückenhaus e.V. takes place annually in the first week of the summer school holidays in Baden-Württemberg (Germany). Around 180 children aged from 6 to 12 years attend this event. Around 15 full-time and 25 volunteer employees look after these children. Every year, the children’s holiday program has a different motto under which the children spend a good week tinkering, playing and having fun. An important educational principle of the Brückenhaus e.V. is offering children new opportunities, letting them explore and try out new things, supporting them to bravely gain their own experience and, in particular, to let their creativity run free. For the staff this means that the children proactively participate in the organization of the program for that week and they help the children to implement their ideas.
If one thinks about the topic of agility, one could see the children as customers. The general focus is on the children (the customers), therefore the staff are responsive to the children’s wishes. Consequently, the participating children get involved, learn in a playful way to argue for their own ideas and to critically discuss them with others. By directly experiencing the relevance of their own ideas, the self-efficacy of children can be strengthened.
From a scrum point of view, the ideas of the children can be understood as requirements which the staff then implement in the next sprint on the following day. It may happen that previously planned craft and game activities do not take place in order to realize the new ideas of the children. Concretely, the process is as follows: The children’s ideas are discussed at the end of each day in the respective teams and then concrete offers are designed. These team meetings are similar to a planning meeting where the next sprint goal and the implementation of the requirements are discussed and planned together. Before that, there is a brief retrospective, in which the occurrences of the day are reflected. Discussion points are what happened in the last sprint, what went well, what can be improved. The results will be transformed into concrete changes for the next day (Action Items). After those team meetings, all staff meet again and share their results of the Retros with the other teams. Then general tasks are planned across-teams.
This year, we made our closeness with agility explicitly visible and organized our tasks in a joint scrum board. Every day (or sprint) at the children’s holiday program, we started with a common check-in meeting (Timebox: 30 minutes). During this meeting we looked at the board together and the tasks for the day were presented to each team and team members (Daily). E.g. a team receives the task to offer a specific sport program on that day. Another team decides to make a newspaper with the children and assigns the task to the board.
All in all, there are many parallels between the implementation of the children’s holiday program of the Brückenhaus e.V. and an agile way of working, especially with regard to the elements of Scrum. As the children’s feedback, as well as their parents’ feedback, shows, this procedure leads to a high satisfaction of the children, thus the customers. Further, the organization of day-to-day tasks in the Scrum Board creates transparency for all staff, helps to work in a focused way and to perform tasks efficiently. Looking beyond the children’s holiday program, the introduction of agile Scrum elements can also provide valuable assistance in the training of young staff. Moreover, it encourages young youth caregivers to try out new things and to improve their own work with children through continuous reflection.
Link to Children’s holiday program of the Brückenhaus e.V. association here.