For the last 23 years, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day has been showing kids what the world is like beyond the classroom. So on the fourth Thursday in April every year, kids aged eight to 18 step outside their traditional learning environment for some hands-on experience alongside their parents and mentors.
“The core goal of the program is to help girls and boys begin to think about their futures—what careers they’re interested in, how they’ll balance that work with their lives at home and what they need to learn in school to help them achieve the goals,” says Carolyn McKecuen, executive director of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation.
To ensure both students and adults enjoy the day, we’ve assembled some pointers.
Before your kids make the commute, have a conversation with them about basic office etiquette, workplace behavior and expectations from their visit, including possible assignments. “They’re still students, [so] they’re still expected to learn and have a level of accountability,” says McKecuen.
In addition to preparing your kids, make sure your co-workers know that there will be visitors in their workspace. “We want adults to remember that, even though this is their workplace, this is where they come to make their living, it still has to be engaging for youth because this is our workforce of the future,” explains McKecuen.
The annual event has always aimed to be inclusive. “We say our daughters and sons because we want you to think of all the kids,” explains McKecuen. But also think outside of your family unit. Are there any kids in your neighborhood whose parents aren’t working? At the end of the day, the goal is to include as many kids as possible. Even President Obama agrees. Last year, he issued a proclamation encouraging employers to expand their programs to accommodate kids who might not otherwise get a chance to participate. A number of organizations have become involved with Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the YMCA.
Mix It Up
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is about showing kids what you do—not telling them. When you arrive in the morning, take the participants on a tour and introduce them to your co-workers. By the end of the day, you want to have sparked an interest in your kids about your career and what it is that you do each day. If they’ll be attending any meetings with you, make sure that the organizer of the meeting (and the other attendees) are ready for questions and a change of pace.
Keep It Fresh
As fun as it can be, your kids don’t need to see you at work every year. Take this opportunity to explore some of their other interests. If they’re curious about the law, McKecuen recommends calling up a local courthouse to find out if they can spend the day there. Are they readers? Shadow a librarian for the day. Any sports fans in the house? Check out a local broadcast center.
If you’re in charge of organizing the day for your company and are unsure of where to start, the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation’s website has plenty of sample day plans for inspiration. Keep in mind that you want this day to be fun and inclusive for everyone involved.
“I think that the biggest challenge is treating kids as adults—including them [in work projects], treating them as co-workers or new hires or trainees on this day,” says McKecuen.
Organize activities in advance to ensure a smooth day for the parents and an interesting experience for the kids. And do enlist other adult volunteers to help out; ideally, there should be one adult for every five kids. For more helpful hints and an organizer’s timeline, check out the Foundation’s Bright Ideas Guide.
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By Alexandra Ward