Every year for a day in April (Thursday, April 25th, this year) we engage in a fun, albeit somewhat odd ritual, known as "Take Your Child To Work Day." My daughter always looked forward to this as it was a chance to see where Dad disappeared to for far too many hours.
I must admit though, I never really knew how to make it a great day for her; I mostly depended on the activities that the HR department had set up.
Enter Becky Ward, Tutor Experience Coordinator for Tutor Doctor and an expert at working with children and parents to take advantage of learning opportunities outside of the classroom (like "Take Your Child to Work Day"). Ward shared with me via an email interview that she believes a well-orchestrated "Take Your Child to Work Day" can raise a child's confidence, identify motivations and interests, and build a better relationship between child and parent.
Here are six things to make sure are included in this very unique opportunity of a day; it just takes a little thought and planning into how the day will go.
1. Give them responsibilities.
Give your child tasks like creating a sales pitch, participating in a focus group or doing a social media takeover for your brand. Fun tasks like these will keep your kids engaged and make them feel they're contributing to your workplace. It will help forge positive, early associations with the concept of work.
I arranged for my daughter to be a part of a photo shoot we were doing for a Puffs tissue print-ad. I don't think she'll ever forget that experience.
2. Let them observe your routine.
Showing your child the day-to-day activities in your work routine is a great way to introduce your child to valuable skills they'll need in the future. Have them join in on calls or participate in research projects or do anything that involves them a bit in what you do each day.
I've found explaining that this is what Dad does to help pay for food, our house, her college education, helped introduce the idea of the need to work for what you get in life.
3. Do some role reversal to build bonds.
Ward suggests also taking some time in the day for your child to teach you something they love to do. This reciprocation of learning will strengthen your connection as parent and child.
4. Make introductions.
Introduce your kids to everyone you work with and have them acknowledge your co-workers by saying hello and shaking hands. Tell your kids what each person does so they can start understanding that everyone has different responsibilities in the workplace.
I found that co-workers I introduced my daughter to enjoyed it as much as my daughter did. It also helped me draw a little closer to those co-workers by sharing something personal.
5. Educate them on the education that's required for work.
Ward says it's important to talk with your child about the education and background they need to do each of the roles they learn about--it helps them set realistic expectations for their own career path.
Ward adds: "Additionally, see if someone in the HR/hiring department can talk to your child about what makes a good job candidate. This can help them start to think about the skills they need to develop to be considered for a role."
You can even practice these skills with your child at home doing mock interviews (while having fun with it too).
This isn't about being a tiger-parent or moving your child out of childhood too fast. It's about introducing the concept of career planning while a relevant experience is still fresh in your child's mind.
6. Talk about future aspirations.
Use your child's experience during the day as a jumping-off point to talk about his/her potential career interests--probe for what they liked, didn't like and why. Doing so helps you set expectations and provide valuable perspective on anything they saw but didn't quite understand.
Ward also says that thereafter, when you're out and about with your child, be sure to point out all the different careers you encounter. It can lead to your child discovering career paths they never knew existed.
So make this year's "Take Your Child to Work Day" one to take to the bank--of memories.