All Hallow’s Eve: Encouraging Creativity in your child

Though the California air doesn’t take on the brisk note it does in NY which signifies the beginning of fall, the pumpkin spiced everything that makes its way to store shelves gives us Angelenos the cue that the season has changed.

Out are the dog days of summer with evenings spent letting the kids run wild, left to the wiles of their own imaginations.  In are the new school days and the schedules packed and executed with break neck speed. 

As we take time to adjust to the new season’s rhythm and the new responsibilities it brings (read: Homework), we must also remember to pepper in some time for the activity that the doldrums of summer forced upon our children; boredom and the inherent creativity it sparks.  

Over the years I’ve seen many ways families deal with boredom, creativity and the time crunch that the new school year brings. And every year I see a golden opportunity to unleash a child’s natural curiosity: Halloween.

The stores and catalogs may try to sell you a ready-made version of whatever is in the zeitgeist, but I invite you to encourage your child to think outside the box: Create a costume that you cannot find in stores or come up with a family costume idea. If the idea of making your own costume feels overwhelming, I’ve made a list of questions to help guide the process. Going through this list will surely help ignite the fire of excitement for the holiday and may lead you down an unexpectedly joyful path.

What is your child currently interested in? 
By asking him or her what interests them, they are taking an active part in the process. This will inherently give them a sense of pride of ownership of the idea. 

Can the idea be stretched to include all of the family members? 
By opening up the conversation to allowing all family members to participate, you encourage collaboration and the skill to further develop an idea.

How can the costume work? 
By asking this question, you begin to map out the necessary steps to put your idea into action. This shows children the importance of logistics. Inevitably, some ideas will be tossed aside simply because they “won’t work.” This will encourage the flow of new ideas and the resilience to bounce back from a perceived failure. 

What do you need to make the costume come to life?
This step takes the planning to the next level. It encourages group activity as it will likely require a trip to a fabric and/or craft store. This also encourages the child to connect deeply to the idea as it requires commitment to research. As they learn and think about how to make the costume believable, they are getting a crash course in being attuned to detail.

Of course, at first blush this all seems rosy and perfect. I’m not guaranteeing it will be. There may be tears and frustration in getting the costumes “right” and we mustn’t forget that though we recognize the characters, other people may not. But this experience also affords a wonderful opportunity for your child to learn how to express him or herself to others by proudly telling them what they’ve made.

I’ve seen some lovely homemade costumes in my day and those are usually the ones I remember best (and am more inclined to give that full-sized candy bar to). 

Share with us some of your ideas. Send in pictures of your homemade costumes and share them on social media with the hashtag #MarvasMagic

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