Getting the Most Out of Taking Your Child to Work

Close-up of boy using printer for work. Boy learning technology. | Image via AdobeStock

For more than 30 years, families across the nation and around the world have celebrated Take Your Child to Work Day (TYCTWD), which officially lands on the fourth Thursday in April.

Many employers have embraced TYCTWD as a special event, which often includes engaging and educational programming for kids, along with a lot of food, fun and photos. Then, there are companies that welcome kids to the workplace but don’t offer structured activities, while others simply are not “kid-friendly”—often for safety reasons—or prefer not to participate.

Whatever opportunities are available to your family on April 25, you can create a day that is dedicated to career exploration while also weaving career concepts into your family’s everyday adventures all year long.

Level up the TYCTWD experience

If your company hosts a formal TYCTWD event, frame the day with some prior planning and thoughtful follow-up to help your child get the most out of it.

Getting ready
• Find out about any planned programming and set your child’s—and your own—expectations accordingly.
• Pay careful attention to age restrictions or recommendations, as TYCTWD activities are often geared toward children in elementary school or older.
• Confirm what your role will be during the day. Some workplaces require parents to be with their children at all times, while others may include them for specific segments only.
• Determine what the plan is for meals and snacks. Will the company host a group breakfast or lunch, or should you bring your own food? If you are taking your child out, preview the menu to avoid repeated laps around the cafeteria.
• Look at your own work schedule and consider options for meetings and other obligations.
• Have a backup or pick-up plan in case the day goes off track.

During the day
• Team up with other families who are participating in TYCTWD, especially if your employer doesn’t have a structured program or the program doesn’t last all day.
• Engage interested colleagues who don’t have children or whose kids are too young or old for TYCTWD.
• Encourage your child to ask questions, join in discussions and demonstrate curiosity and a positive attitude throughout the day.
• Capture the experience with photos, notes and any special takeaways from the program.

Back at home
• Prompt your child to share photos and other mementos with family and friends.
• Have your child work with you or independently to create a brief report, poster or collage that describes the experience and what they learned, ideally to present at school, extracurricular clubs, religious school or elsewhere.
• Foster reflection afterwards. What did they enjoy most or least? What are some ways to follow up?

No workplace TYCTWD option? No problem!

Parents who work from home or at home (stay-at-home parents are workers, too), or whose employers don’t partake in TYCTWD, can plot their own family journeys into the work world on April 25 or any day of the year.

Start by explaining—or better yet, demonstrating—to your child the work you do, and if applicable, what your coworkers do. This may be an easier task for people who build or fix things, for example, than for those who sit in front of a computer all day, but don’t be deterred: every job is a story waiting to be told.

Expand from what you do to what friends and family members do. Take a field trip to a local supermarket, car dealership or restaurant and draw your child’s attention to the many different jobs that are being done under one roof. Talk about their favorite sports team or music group: how many jobs can they name that support the athletes on the field or performers on stage?

With a little creativity and curiosity, these career conversations can take you and your child in countless directions.

Learn about work all year long

TYCTWD is a unique day for many families, but exploring professional pathways can
be an enlightening year-round pursuit. Take advantage of what your community
has to offer, such as career fairs and expos for kids, as well as activities and
clubs that are career-related. Schools, libraries, community centers and organizations like 4-H, Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs and Junior Achievement are great places to start.

Ultimately, whether you take a DIY approach or use the many resources available in person, in print and online, you’ll expand your child’s horizons and your own and have a wonderful time along the way.

Michelle Hollander, a graduate of Yale College and Yale School of Management, co-founded Career Carnival for Kids, LLC to spark career curiosity among elementary and middle school students. Sharon Hollander, a licensed psychologist and graduate of Pace University, writes and presents on children’s literature, art therapy, autism, therapeutic horseback and more.


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