Every child loves trick-or-treating but, as a parent, it might not seem like the healthiest or most productive activity. Here are our suggestions for seven ways that you can make trick-or-treating educational this Halloween.
Making Halloween a Learning Experience
Fall is officially here. The weather is changing, the leaves are turning, and Halloween is right around the corner. The stores are full of candy and costumes and your children are probably buzzing about what they're going to wear for trick-or-treating. Amidst all the excitement, it's possible that you might be feeling some of the apprehension that parents tend to get around this time. How healthy of an activity is trick-or-treating, anyway? Do I have to take my child? But, hey, we're optimists around here and we think that Halloween is a great learning opportunity for children. Here are our seven suggestions for how to make the trick-or-treating experience educational.
1. Local Geography
When students begin to learn geography in school, they start local, with simply their neighborhoods. Before they can start grasping the bigger concepts of state, country, and continent maps and divisions, young students can build geography skills by creating neighborhood maps, learning about the streets around them and how they connect to culture and economy. Trick-or-treating is a great way to reinforce these concepts. Before your trick-or-treating trip, you can sit down with your child and a map and go over the route you're planning on taking, pointing out relevant local landmarks online the way.
2. The History of All Hallow's Eve
Halloween might be all about candy and costumes now, but it has its own interesting history that your child will probably be excited to learn about. This Halloween lesson for kids is full of age-appropriate fun facts to help explain the background of the holiday. Depending on their age, you can have your child read through this lesson themselves or, if your prefer, just read them some fun facts throughout the night to keep them thinking.
3. Stranger and Food Safety
For young children, one of the most important things to learn about is safety. Of course, trick-or-treating is a perfectly safe activity when done with parental supervision, but this occasion is a great opportunity to have a talk with your child about personal safety, especially as it pertains to dealing with strangers. You can explain to them that Halloween is special, but taking candy or other food from unfamiliar adults isn't appropriate on any other day.
Another topic rife for sharing on Halloween is nutrition. You can show your child how to read a nutrition label and understand which foods are everyday friends as opposed to special treats. As long as you focus the conversation on health rather than appearance and body image, this is a great way to introduce the concept of dietary regulation into your child's mind.
Social skills are just as important as any other kind of information and trick-or-treating is a great time to reinforce the value of manners. You can teach your child that it's polite to greet their neighbors with a hello and a friendly smile, take their treat calmly, and express their gratitude with a 'thank you.' Since your child will repeat this social script over and over on Halloween, it's a perfect time to correct any slip-ups and really nail good habits.
Another social skill relevant to trick-or-treating is self-regulation, otherwise known as self-discipline or willpower. Recent scientific research has revealed some interesting theories about willpower, like the idea that it might be a limited resource. Whether or not you choose to get into the nitty gritty of willpower with your child, coming home from trick-or-treating is a great time to help them learn how to regulate their impulses. Sure, they might want to eat all of their candy in one go, but that will probably give them a tummy-ache and then they won't have any left over for tomorrow. (Or to share with mom and dad.)
Speaking of sharing… Another effective way to make the trick-or-treating experience educational and prevent your child from over-indulging in sugary sweets is to use it as an opportunity to work on their sharing skills. Does your child want to keep all of their hard-earned candy for themselves or are they willing to share with their siblings and parents? The more you give them a chance to practice sharing, the better they'll be at it. And you can get a mini Snickers out of it, too. Sharing is caring, after all.
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