4 Do’s and 4 Don’ts for Take Our Children to Work Day
Take Our Children to Work Day is Thursday, April 23rd, and if you still need convincing that this 20-year-old holiday is worth observing, there are a lot of great reasons to consider. Whether you run a small business, work in an office, or work from home, your children could learn a lot from spending the day with you at work. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you maximize the potential of the day.
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Don’t expect your kids to stay focused all day. The research varies, but the popular idea is that children can pay attention for about equal to double their age in minutes. So, a 7-year-old can stay with one thing for about seven to 14 minutes. Plan your schedule for the day accordingly.
Do plan something for them to do when you need to get to work. Throw a movie on if you need to…. Chances are that at some point during your workday, you’re actually going to need to get some work done! Come to work prepared with something that will help you find at least 60 minutes of relative focus and quiet. Also, there is no need for your child to stick with you all day. Consider switching with a colleague for a few hours, or allow your child to shadow a few different people over the course of the day.
Don’t worry about trying to sell them on what you do. Most likely, your kids will latch on to some aspect of your work that they find cool, and it will be something you never expected – like making copies. Try not to get hung up on having your child fall in love with what you do, just allow them to experience the day in their own way.
Do allow them to form their own opinions, and ask them questions about what they think. Talk with your children throughout the day about what you do, rather than talking at them. Avoid falling into long speeches about aspects of your job. Ask your kids lots of questions along the way to keep them engaged.
Don’t get stressed out by the planning. Kids love entering adult scenes and spaces; you really don’t have to go too crazy planning activities for the day. Just being there, seeing what you do all day, meeting people, really offers a lot for your children to take in. Don’t let planning for the day stress you out. The day will turn out great for your child if you’re enjoying it too.
Do plan something for them to take to school with them the next day. Some teachers give students surveys to fill out and share when they return to school. Whether you’re supplied with one of these or not, think about what your kids could share about the day before it starts. Give them a little folder with “important materials” for the day inside. Include info about your job itself and a plan for the day (a schedule maybe). They’ll love sharing the details with their classmates the next day.
Don’t give them too many rules. No fantastically fun day ever began with a long list of rules and restrictions. Of course there need to be limits, and you should discuss them before the day starts. Just keep it short and sweet. This is supposed to be fun! And, your colleagues know this day is bound to be a little different from the rest.
Do tell them what to expect. This is another good reason to give your kids some type of agenda for the day. Knowing what to expect at every turn will help them be on their best behavior throughout the day, and it will help them to stay engaged and learn more from the experience.
For some great ideas for activities, and suggested schedules by industry, check out this resource from the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. Enjoy the day!
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Gina Belli works as a teacher, freelance writer, and educational consultant, and lives in her beloved home state, Connecticut. She likes to write about education, work-life balance, and the economy. Given her arresting capacity to over-analyze anything interpersonal, her writing often tends to focus on some of the more emotional aspects of workplace connections and disconnections, as they relate to partnerships and teams, personality and communication styles, and leadership. In her free time, she likes to putter around her renovated one-room schoolhouse home, take walks in the woods, and eat as much guacamole as she can get her hands on.