Visual Management…It’s Elementary, Watson.

Each year I spend one day as a volunteer at my kids’ elementary school.  It is a lot of fun helping out in their classroom, in art class or the library.  My kids are still at an age where they are excited and proud to have dad around so it is very enjoyable.

What I really like about the school (I’m sure other elementary schools are this way too) is their use of visual management.  The school uses it in several ways.

The school uses visual management for learning.  All the classrooms have big calendars on the wall in the early grades to learn days of the week, months, and time.  3rd, 4th, and 5th they use visual management to learn about the solar system, the phases of the moon and animal habitats.  This is just in the normal classroom.  The music room, art room, library and gym all have their own visual management for learning.

Another simple visual management is for easier cleanup in the cafeteria.  Here is a picture showing what tub to put the silverware in.  Grouping the silverware makes it easier for the helpers to clean and separate the silverware for the next lunch session.

Finally, they use visual management to show status.  The picture shows which classrooms earned their falcon tickets (falcons is their mascot) for good behavior for the month.  They get them awarded by other teachers and earn them as a class, not individuals.

These are just a few ways the schools uses visual management.  The kids are so used to it and know where to go to get the information they need.  When do schools stop doing this?  Why?  If it never stopped would it be easier to transition this to an everyday practice as an adult?

Visual management.  If the elementary schools can do it so well, why can’t we?


Posted on May 7, 2012, in Communication, Learning, Tools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Maybe they stop doing it because it is “too elementary”. Just like in the workplace, some people think that we are dumbing down things by implementing visual management. For some reason they don’t equate simple with easier. Instead, they want to complicate the situation in order to make it more “adult”.

  2. I never understood why if it so prominent and vital to learning at those early developmental ages why it stops as we get older. It doesn’t seem right. I think the elementary class rooms are a great lesson in visual management and standard work. We have much to learn from our children that we somehow miss with age. Anyone with kids already knows this. I think you learn more from them then they from you.

    • Your statement reminds me of the book, “Everything I needed to Know in Life I Learned in Kindergarten” Unfortunately, we tend to think we outgrow those lessons.

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