April 28, 2016 will mark the 23rd year of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. On the fourth Thursday of April, working parents all across America take their children to work with them so they can see what Mom or Dad do for a living.
Some companies have organized activities for their young visitors; others have little or no planning. Regardless of how things work at your office, you can use your workplace to teach kids about the value of money.
Of course, your lessons must be age-appropriate. It is difficult, if not impossible, to teach your toddler about the stock market and older children will be bored with simplistic discussions. With that in mind, here are a few ideas that can spur your thinking on appropriate lessons for your kids.
- Salary – You can give younger children an analogy of worth and value by equating your work time to money and purchases. Give them a frame of reference by how much of your work time it takes to buy an ice cream cone or a bike.
Beware of two unintended consequences — make sure your children do not think that just because you work a certain amount of time they will get an ice cream cone or a bike, and make sure they understand that your salary is private. You do not want them relaying their new found information to everybody they meet in the hallway or the elevator.
- Profit – If you work in a manufacturing environment, you can show your children the products you make and talk about profit in general — how it takes money to make the products and how your company has to charge more to be able to pay employees and stay in business. Make the discussion age-appropriate and do not use actual company numbers unless you have cleared it with your manager (and even then, it is not a good idea to be specific).
You can extend the profit discussion to retail jobs as well. It may be harder to illustrate in an office environment, but it is not impossible to do so.
- Sales – If you are in a retail environment, you may be able to show your children how transactions take place. When ringing up a customer’s cash purchase, you can go over basic math skills with younger children by letting them “help” you make change and hand it out to the customer. You can engage your older children with discussions about credit cards and debit cards — how they work, what the difference is between the two, and pros and cons of each.
- Taxes – If you can keep your own biases out (and we all have them), you can teach your kids about taxes. For example, in the retail environment, you can explain why the customer pays more than the price on the price tag because of taxes, where the tax money goes, and how it is spent.
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is not for everybody. If your workplace is hostile to the idea, you do not think you can pay sufficient attention to your child and still do your job, or you cannot keep them from disrupting the office, then do not participate. A bad experience at the office is worse than no experience at the office.
However, you should spend extra time with your children later in the day and talk to them about what you do at work. You can use that time for teachable moments about money. They may not pay close attention or seem to appreciate the effort now, but as they grow up, you are more likely to see the fruits of your efforts. Take the extra time to teach your kids about money, and they will reward you by staying out of trouble (and out of debt) with their good money-management habits.