It’s always fun to bring your kids to work. Whether you work in Seattle, New York, Atlanta, or anywhere in between, kids of all ages love to go to the office to see what mom and dad do for a living. However, if you don’t plan the day right, the kids might end up becoming bored—and bored kids are experts at getting into trouble.
To make your company’s next kid-friendly day a success, consider these take your child to work day activities as well as some tips on how to ensure that everyone enjoys the day. They’re divided into age groups, but many of the suggested activities can be adapted for children of any age—you might even enjoy doing some of them yourself!
For elementary school kids
Younger children love arts and crafts. Help them channel their creative energy by arranging art stations around the office. You could ask them to imagine a new logo for the company or draw a picture of their parent as they’re doing their job. The arts and crafts don’t need to be directly related to work. You could have a station where they learn to make simple origami projects or simply paint whatever comes to mind.
Here are some other project ideas that the kids might love:
- Building projects. They could build a puppet theater or make a house out of cereal boxes.
- Storytelling. You could create a fill-in-the-blank story that lets kids bring out their inner Hemingway—or Dr. Seuss, as the case may be. You could also ask them to write stories about what they envision for the future of computers, fashion, etc.—whatever the main focus of your business is.
- Jewelry. They could make paper beads or candy necklaces. Friendship bracelets are always a favorite among young children.
You don’t have to stick purely to arts and crafts. Some elementary school children will be able to grasp more technical information if it is presented in the right way. You could give them lessons on how to use technology or show them the inside of a computer or other device.
For middle school kids
Middle school kids are beginning to think more seriously about the careers they want to pursue. If your company is a startup that focuses on tech or science, use this opportunity to encourage the kids to get into STEM careers. The girls especially will benefit from the encouragement, since women are underrepresented in STEM positions.
Here are some activities that might be a good fit for this age group:
- Mathematics. Give them some story problems that relate to your company and show the practical value of number-crunching in the workplace. This could be as simple as some accounting-type problems, but you could also get them involved in geometry, calculus, or algebra if you feel they’re up for the challenge.
- Interviews. Let the kids interview someone in each department. Beforehand, encourage them to prepare questions that dig into the meat of what is involved in a particular career. You can also have your employees interview the kids, asking them about their career goals.
- Science and art. Like younger children, middle schoolers likely love to get their hands on things. Have interactive, hands-on activities prepared that are more advanced and thought-provoking than what you put together for the younger kids.
For high school kids
Some high school kids might think they’re too old to come to a bring your kids to work day. However, if you prepare stimulating activities for them, they’ll be much more likely to enjoy what you have in store. Plus, they’ll get away from regular school for a day—and what high school student doesn’t like to feel like they’re skipping? For high school kids, you might set up some of the following:
- Job shadowing. Perhaps the kids can sign up in advance to spend the day shadowing someone in your company who does a job that interests them. This will give them a realistic view of the career, and, if possible, they might even be able to participate in some of the tasks involved in the job.
- Science experiments. High school kids are often responsible enough to be around items that younger kids can’t be trusted with. Therefore, you could set up technology or chemistry experiments that will excite the high school students’ minds and build enthusiasm for your company.
- Marketing. Who doesn’t like art? The high school kids could check out the ad design process and maybe even offer their ideas for it. You could also arrange activities that show them how to analyze marketing analytics or build a website.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed on your bring your kids to work day, ask parents to RSVP for their kids at least a week in advance—preferably more. This will give you time to make sure you have enough supplies for all the activities you’re planning. Create a list of everything you’ll need, and put someone in charge of arranging the activity stations for your young visitors.
Also, consider whether you’re going to serve food to the kids. You could set up a simple sandwich bar or something similar. Alternatively, you could just send out a reminder to parents that tells them to make sure their kids bring their own lunch.
Prepare a short letter about your company’s take your kids to work day that students can give to school officials. Since the kids will be missing a day of school, their teachers should know that they’re still spending the day doing educational activities.
More tips to make the day a success
When kids come into your office, they should leave with a well-rounded idea of what your company does. It ought to be an educational experience for them.
Keep in mind that your kids can learn from every department, not just the department where their parents work. You may want to give them a tour and ask someone in each department to prepare a short age-appropriate presentation about what the department does. If it won’t disrupt workflow too much, you might arrange for the kids to participate in each department’s activities in a way that is in line with their abilities.
Keep activities short enough to accommodate children’s attention spans. Younger kids are less likely to be able to sit through a 45-minute slideshow presentation than older kids. You should always try to keep activities interactive.
Always make safety a priority, too. If you plan on letting the children into any areas where there is dangerous or sensitive equipment, post proper warning signs, make sure the kids know how to conduct themselves, and keep a close eye on what they’re doing.
Make sure the kids have a takeaway
What is going to make this experience memorable and positive for the kids? What do you want to achieve? Think about your goals for the day. You might simply want to make sure it’s a fun day around the office, or you might have a strict focus on education. Plan your activities in line with that goal.
It couldn’t hurt to give the kids some swag, either. You might provide them with lanyards, water bottles, or something similar—and, of course, they’ll get to keep any art projects they made during the day.
The kids who come to your company might send you thank you letters after the day is over, but you should send something to them, too. For middle and high school kids, you can send them a survey asking about their opinion of your company. They’re the next generation of consumers and workers, after all, and you want to have their good opinion. For younger kids, you might send them pictures of their day at your office. They’ll love the memento!
At first, it might seem like an inconvenience to invite parents to bring their kids to the office for a day. However, it can be a fun and positive experience for everyone if you plan it well. Put together activities that fit the kids’ ages, accept that productivity might be a little slower than usual, and let yourself relax. You can have a role in shaping the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, marketers, etc. Why not start preparing now for your next kid-friendly company event?