In a nutshell: You don’t need a big budget or a lot of advance planning to welcome children into your workplace. Here are some ideas for small businesses.

Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day

Later this month, many workplaces will open their doors to children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The program, nearly 25 years old, is designed to encourage young people to learn about their career opportunities, dream about their possibilities and think about their futures.

Large companies often plan for weeks, if not months, for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, organizing a full day’s worth of supervised events and presentations. Small businesses do not have the time nor the resources to engage in this level of advance planning, but there are still plenty of ways for them to engage and entertain children while introducing them to the work environment.  In other words, if you don’t have anything planned yet, it’s not too late!

Here are some ideas for Take Our Daughters and Sons Day to Work for your small business.

Start with an Icebreaker

At the beginning of the day, children won’t know each other. Plan a short activity where they can introduce themselves and share a bit of information. One idea is icebreaker bingo, which encourages kids to interact and learn about the other people in the room. Another is the two-truths-and-a-lie game— kids reveal two facts about themselves and make up a third statement. The others must guess what’s true and what’s not.

Adults can join in the icebreakers to get the games rolling and energize the more reserved kids.

Meet with a Leader

Young people are naturally curious, and many of them will want to know who created the business and what challenges they faced. The person who can best answer the questions is the one who created or now leads the company. He or she can talk about their inspirations, the challenges they faced and what entrepreneurship feels like.

If you’re the speaker, here are some tips for interacting with children:

  • Don’t be condescending.Kids are smart and know when someone is speaking down to them.
  • Focus on the big picture, not the business details. You don’t need to discuss your rationale for incorporating in Delaware.
  • Use references they understand. Think Star Wars and Frozen, not Ferris Bueller and Clueless.
  • Be prepared for off-the-wall questions. You simply don’t know what kids, especially younger ones, will ask. You might be asked what you wanted to do when you were a child. You might be asked for your favorite color. You might be asked if you like turtles. Don’t get flabbergasted — be appreciative that children are inquisitive.
  • Have fun. Kids will feed off your positive energy.

Give a Tour

Your office might not be very big, but there’s a good chance the children haven’t seen it at all. Show them around, introducing them to people along the way and explaining the different roles. That way, they’ll get an idea of all the different functions and skills go into the running of your company.

Remember to ask the kids a lot of questions along the tour. Some good ones include:

  • Why do you think this is important for the company?
  • Why do you think you’d be interested in this kind of career?
  • What sort of skills do you think this person needs?

Encourage Brainstorming and Problem-Solving

Young people are full of ideas, and it’s never too early to introduce them to the concept of brainstorming. Get the kids together, give them a challenge, and ask them for ideas to solve it. Remember to set some ground rules: The children should be positive, constructive and not dismissive. Run the session like a proper brainstorming session — break out the whiteboard and sticky notes. 

Provide Lunch and Snacks

Adults like to socialize around the lunch table, and kids do too. This is an opportune time to bring in some food and let the children interact with each other. Lunch need not be expensive — with kids, it’s very hard to go wrong with pizza. (Remember, when it comes to snacks, some kids might have peanut allergies!)

End on a High Note

At the end of the day, give the children a chance to reflect on what they’ve seen and learned. Allow the kids to share their thoughts. Some younger children might want to express themselves creatively, so consider providing paper and art supplies.

If you have extra promotional items lying around, let the children take some home as mementos of their day in the office.