Your preschooler still has lots to figure out about the world and the people in it. One thing that’s pretty much settled, though, is Mommy’s role: Mommy is her Mommy, and that’s that.
Now it’s time to broaden this view.
Obviously Moms and Dads have other roles, too, in the community and at work. Kids benefit from seeing their parents in these roles. It widens their world by exposing them to everyday situations and structures outside family life. And it gives them a greater sense of security to be able to visualize what a parent is doing when not at home.
It’s a good idea to let your child actually see what goes on when you’re working or volunteering. He’ll get an idea of whom you’re with, what your surroundings look like, and how your activity fits into the overall scene. So if you can arrange it, it’s worth taking your curious kid on a visit to the office, store, or shop. Here are eight suggestions that will help make that visit good for your child and manageable for you and your colleagues.
- Talk to the boss first. There already may be a child’s day at work within the company. If there isn’t, you might want to start one—it’s great PR for the company as well as a big internal morale builder. If you do bring your child, let your co-workers know in advance so there’s no surprise.
- Pick a good time. Young children are at their best in the morning, while kids in school do better with an afternoon visit. Consider when interesting things tend to happen and when your child’s presence is least likely to be disruptive.
- If you work in an area that is dangerous, arrange a visit after hours when things are shut down and not hazardous.
- Plan on a visit of an hour or two. More is generally too much for a young child, and things are more likely to fall apart.
- Make sure your child is dressed appropriately; that’s part of the learning. Let him try out what you do, if it’s possible: sign on to the computer system, make a copy of a schedule, ask a customer if she needs help, offer a serving of potatoes—whatever doesn’t compromise you, your child, or the work.
- Be sure to include a snack or lunch break.
- Introduce your child to your co-workers, and explain to her what each of them does.
- Photograph your child while she’s there. This can illustrate a story she dictates to you about the visit. She will certainly want to add her own illustrations of the day spent “working” with Mom or Dad.