Though we parents and adults may think of Halloween as yet another day commercialized by Hollywood and candy makers, it is actually a celebration of ancient traditions and rites of passage. Families and communities celebrate Halloween all over the world and it can be a wonderful learning and developmental experience for your child.
The Library of Congress traces Halloween’s roots in the Gaelic festival Samhain. Ancient Celtic people lit bonfire wheels to welcome spirits from the Other World. But also donned disguises to avoid being kidnapped by fairies and ghosts. Oh, my! Today, we continue such activities by carving jack-o’-lanterns, wearing scary costumes, and lighting candles.
Halloween-themed activities — such as those mentioned above — can benefit your child in ways you may not realize. So rather than getting caught up in the negative warnings about too much candy, too much waste, too much risk… consider the personal growth and FUN your child can experience on the spookiest (or corniest!) day of the year.
Halloween encourages social interaction
Halloween encompasses many old and new traditions celebrated across the country. CNN featured early Halloween traditions, highlighting how the event started as a communal gathering and continues to be one to this day. Community activities such as trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, and pumpkin decorating encourage children to make friends with their neighbors and start conversations with other children. These social interactions help children experiment with their social and emotional roles while building their self-esteem and confidence. When they go around the neighborhood to ask for candy, they partake in a centuries-long tradition that can help them examine their place in their community. With the help of their teachers and parents, they can also appreciate their role in keeping these rituals alive for the next generations to enjoy.
Halloween helps build essential developmental skills
Halloween is not just a time to go trick-or-treating; it can also be a way to incorporate educational activities to switch up their daily routine. Halloween-themed storytelling, drawing, and role-playing can be done in the classroom or at home and supplement your child’s learning objectives. Maryville University shares how literacy and creativity development can be developed through these activities. Storytelling, for one, encourages children to use their imaginations while teaching sounds, words, and grammar. Drawing inspires creative thinking while developing motor skills. Role-playing allows children to learn language and reading skills while using props and costumes to act out scenarios. These three activities can be easily adapted for Halloween through classic stories and characters such as Hansel and Gretel, Jack-O-Lantern, and The Goblin Man.
Halloween encourages creativity and self-expression
Creating and choosing costumes is always a fun activity for children. Whether they’re taking inspiration from their favorite cartoon characters, monsters, or superhero villains, Halloween is a day to use their imaginations and concoct combinations without limitations. Parents and educators can also involve them in decorating their front yards or classrooms through some Halloween arts and crafts activities we featured here at Jooki. Arts or costume competitions can inspire competitiveness and challenge creativity as they compete to have the best art or costume in the neighborhood. Even trick-or-treating can be a way for kids to get creative as they strategize for ways to get candy from their neighbors.
Halloween is a great time for parents, teachers, and family members to bond with our children. It’s an opportunity for children to explore their sense of creativity and self – and for us to be a part of that. So if you’re doubting the value of Halloween in your child’s life, try to remember the awesome memories and qualities it helps your child create.
For more Halloween fun and ideas on sparking your child’s imagination and independence, follow Jooki @jookiplay!
By Alyssa Fillmore for jooki.com
(Edited by Evin Hunter)
Author Bio: Alyssa Fillmore is a freelance writer specializing in early childhood education. She is passionate about teaching trends and early literacy. She volunteers with her own children at a local community shelter in her free time.