Halloween is fast upon us. For those who participate, it brings with it unique situations in which to put knowledge of the five foundations into practice. Of course, it should go without saying that the potential opportunities from any of these activities never outweigh the harm of encouraging children to engage beyond their boundaries. Halloween can look different for everyone, and that’s ok! Let’s explore some potential aspects of the halloween experience and some opportunities that come with them:
Decisions about costume often reflect children’s interests and can provide them with opportunities to explore these interests in a new way. Talking about the costume can be a great way to model language on a topic of interest, which can bolster communication and social confidence. Costume planning also provides opportunities to discuss textures and their sensory impact – and to find solutions to bridge sensory needs and costume desires.
Trick or Treating
Developing a plan for trick-or-treating can support executive functioning and emotional regulation by helping children know what to expect. Social stories can be fantastic tools to facilitate preparedness when encountering less-familiar situations such as trick or treating. Later, trick or treating in itself offers several somewhat-predictable, brief, salient settings in which children can experience social interactions and figure out what sorts of interactions and supports feel best for them. They also have the opportunity to be exposed to interactions with a variety of community members with a supportive, familiar adult by their side to guide them through it! To top it off, many children report feeling especially confident when donning the outfits of their favorite characters or other costumes they find exciting.
The day after halloween often carries a different, more sugar-filled kind of intrigue. Trading with siblings so each can have more of a preferred candy type is a great example of communication enabling interdependence. Emotional regulation and coping mechanisms can be further solidified through well-supported experiences with exciting events ending and leaving behind complex webs of emotions that may include residual excitement, sorrow, and even overwhelm. Endings and changes are a part of life, and experiencing their impact in the context of an annual holiday can help build foundations for dealing with more life-altering changes later on.
But for now, the holiday has only just begun! Whatever the day holds, we at Foundations for Divergent Minds wish you a fun and safe halloween!