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Turning Fears into Learning Opportunities

Blog Type:  Preschool
Date Posted:  Thursday, October 25, 2018

How many parents of Preschool-aged children live with a monster hiding under their child’s bed, a witch hiding in the closet or a ghost saying “boooo” at the window? All healthy children have fears, as this is part of their normal development.

As we all know, young children have a vivid imagination! They only feel safe and secure when their life is rhythmic with rituals and routines. Any changes in those rituals and routines, any unknown sounds or unfamiliar things, such as a flushing toilet or a strange mask can scare a 2, 3 or a 4 year old child. Even though young children are aware of their environment, they are concrete thinkers and therefore they don't yet understand everything that happens around them.

Taming fears by playing, singing or reading about it

As children are growing older, their cognitive development is becoming more complex. They are able to think about things symbolically and therefore they start to get afraid of things that tend to be more reality-based, such as a storm or a fire. However, they are usually able to adapt faster to a new situation and identify better what is really dangerous and what is not.

Playing with, singing and reading about, imitating, acting out, drawing and painting allow children to identify, name and clear-up false beliefs. It will also help to desensitize children to the fearful object or situation.

Halloween being just around the corner, it allows teachers to create projects and activities around Monsters, Witches, Ghosts, Bats, and Spiders, not only to demystify them, but also to work on multiple skills and areas of growth.  

What else are children learning through these themes?

Oral language and early literacy. While exploring these themes, children are expanding their French and English vocabulary through “reading” stories, learning songs and rhymes, exploring and learning letters and sounds, even scary ones such as “boo” or a sinister laugh.

Their five senses. Through activities, children learn to touch, smell and taste things that are different - like slimy pumpkin seeds.

In Kindergarten, students created skeletons out of cotton swabs.

Fine motor skills. Children develop their fine motor skills through drawing, cutting, gluing, and even sewing,  as they make their pumpkins, ghosts or monsters.

Gross motor skills. Children work on their gross motor skills while cooking, imitating and acting out or playing games, such as Pumpkin Games in Kindergarten.

Math skills. Children work on foundational math skills such as one-to-one correspondence, matching and sorting shapes and colors, comparing and contrasting using classification, predicting cause and effect through activities and games.

Halloween is always a big hit with the children and our role as educators is to take advantage of this excitement and turn it into pedagogical opportunities!