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Make Halloween fun and educational

An article in the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) newsletter caught my attention this week. It offered suggestions about how to make Halloween not so scary for preschoolers and how to use the holiday as an learning oportunity. This holiday is supposed to be fun for kids, but for little ones, the idea of ghosts, goblins and witches may be a bit over the top. Here are some of their suggestions of how parents can help fight the fright by using Halloween to teach their little ones valuable lessons.

History – Young children may not understand the implications of the origins of Halloween, but they can learn about their costumes. You and your child can gather information about their princess, witch or superhero costume by reading a book, researching together online or watching movies about it.

Arts & Crafts – Your children can sharpen their motor skills and artistic expression by creating their own mask out of paper plates, paint and glitter. Your child can cut out eye and mouth holes, paint inside the lines and match colors with glitter. Not only will they personalize their costume with a frightful mask, but also learn valuable coordination skills as well.

Learning manners – Use trick-or-treating to teach social skills to your young ones through role play. Stand on one side of a closed door and ask your child to knock from the other side. As you open the door, have your child practice saying “trick-or-treat” as you pretend to give them candy. Wait for them to say “thank you” before closing the door.

Letter and number practice – Once the night’s events are finished, use your child’s candy collection to teach a variety of lessons. Ask your preschooler to sort the candy by color, size, shape or category. Young children can sort into alphabetical piles by the first letter of the candy’s name and older kids may have fun counting or weighing their piles of candy.

These suggestions came from Dr. Vicki Folds, vice president of education and professional development for Children of America in Delray Beach, Fla. She is one of the nation’s leading child development experts with 35 years of hands-on research and experience and several published child care books including “Tray Tasking” and “Three Step Tray Tasking.” Dr. Folds is currently on the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Consulting Editors Panel and reviews articles for its Young Children Journal as well as future book for publication.

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