Guide: Take Your Child to Work Day

mother and daughter heading to Take Your Child to Work Day

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k

Are you looking to help your child strengthen her or his self-esteem and learn about the purpose of meaningful work? Take Your Child to Work Day may be the answer. 

Formally known as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, this celebration gives children a taste of their futures while helping them experience the working world and develop confidence. Many employers create activities and programs for children to learn about their parents’ jobs, build skills, and have fun. 

How did Take Your Child to Work Day come about, and why do employers, parents, and children celebrate it? Learn about the history, origins, and purpose of the day, along with information about participating in it and examples of how to make the most of it.

What Is Take Your Child to Work Day?

Just what is Take Your Child to Work Day? Here is what you should know about it and why and how it came to be.

• Purpose

According to the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation, the program exists to create a “more equitable” world, enabling children to discover opportunities, build self-esteem, and envision their futures. The day also demonstrates the purpose of and possibilities associated with education to girls and boys and is meant to show them how adults balance their work and family lives.

The Foundation establishes a different theme for the day each year; this year (2019), it is Workforce Development for All. In addition to celebrating the day in the workplace, the Foundation encourages participants to share media and conversations with children about important topics, including education planning, self-discovery, and bullying prevention.

• History and Origins

In 1992, “The Year of the Woman,” and during the early 1990s in general, the United States saw historic levels of representation of women in the Senate and House of Representatives. It wasn’t just limited to politics: across industries, women were seeking and obtaining higher-level and higher-paying jobs and careers.

Inspired by this success, the Ms. Foundation for Women, with Marie C. Wilson at the helm, began considering ways to encourage employers to take girls seriously as potential hires in the workforce.

In TIME magazine, Wilson tells a story about a girl who had secured an internship in New York but was too intimidated to even enter the building. She also points to research conducted by Carol Gilligan that looks at how adolescent girls “started to lose their sense of who they were — thinking, talking and saying what they felt. You weren’t supposed to question boys. You weren’t supposed to know anything, so to speak.”

Originally, the Ms. Foundation conceived of the day as a local event in New York, but when Gloria Steinem got wind of the idea, she told Parade, and Take Our Daughters to Work Day took on a life of its own. The first Take Our Daughters to Work Day occurred on April 22, 1993.

• Inclusion of Boys

Some participants and employers already considered the program “Take Your Child to Work Day,” rather than limiting it to girls, and in 2003, the name was officially changed to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” 

The program separated from the Ms. Foundation and became the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation in 2007, with Carolyn McKecuen leading as its executive director.

What Day is National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day?

In the United States and Canada, National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day occurs on the fourth Thursday in April.

When is it?

National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day dates through 2025 include:

• April 25, 2019

• April 23, 2020

• April 22, 2021

• April 28, 2022

• April 27, 2023

• April 25, 2024

• April 24, 2025

Is Take Your Child to Work Day an Excused Absence?

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is not a national holiday, and schools are not required to excuse students from school, though many do offer excused absences to participants.

As part of its Coordinator Toolkit, the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation offers a sample excused absence form that workplaces and parents can give to school officials to sign.

What Is the Age Limit for Bring Your Child to Work Day?

The age limit for participants is left to the discretion of participating employers, although the Foundation recommends participation for girls and boys between the ages of eight and 18. The Foundation’s website notes that issues like attention span, reading comprehension, and others may interfere with the ability of children under eight to fully appreciate the Day but does encourage “creativity and planning” in facilitating important discussions about work and education with younger children. 

Is Take Your Kid to Work Day Mandatory?

Take Your Child to Work Day is not mandatory; parents and employers participate at their own choosing. If your workplace does not officially designate the fourth Thursday in April as such, make sure to clear your desire to bring her or him to work with you with your manager to ensure that she or he will not cause a disruption and the environment will be safe. 

Some workplaces may not be conducive to bringing your daughter or son to work; for example, parents working in laboratories probably don’t want their children in potentially hazardous conditions. Likewise, parents who see patients, such as therapists and physicians, would be unable to have their children observe confidential sessions and meetings.

Activities for Bring Your Child to Work Day

Many employers you participate in the program offer activities and schedules to keep kids entertained and excited about the working world. They often depend on the type of organization and facility, but there are some general activities that work across a variety of business, such as:

• Mock interviews

• Workplace tours

• Interactive presentations by personnel and departments

• Parent/child lunches

• Icebreakers and games

The Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Foundation offers plenty of workplace- and job-specific activity guides to help you, your employer, and your children make the most of the day.