RIE in Real Life…Halloween Edition

My weekly newsletters are often about a single idea, a story or two about that idea. The idea is that I can shine a light one on part of the Educaring Approach…because, as you all know, this type of parenting goes deep and has many angles…it’s hard to capture its essence in just a short article. It’s something that is meant to be lived and experienced.

But sometimes I like to use this space to simply pass along some support, some resources, that I’ve come across recently that might be helpful. And that’s what I have in mind today.

I know many families are gearing up for a weekend of Halloween activities, so I thought I’d include a couple of classic pieces by my friend, Janet Lansbury. One evokes the quote at the top of this newsletter (following a child’s lead), the other invites you to open your mind about how to carve a pumpkin with a young child.

Linda Hinrichs, director of Children’s Corner in Topanga, also has some thoughts on the matter after celebrating decades of Halloweens with preschoolers: she advises that you do the heavy lifting, erm…carving…before you invite the child into the carving process. Open the pumpkin (from the bottom as all the tiktoks are saying these days), scrape out the strings and seeds (reserve), and even carefully go ahead and cut out the face (again, reserve the pieces you cut out). At that point, you can invite your child to the process…they can spend time exploring the seeds and strings, and (perhaps most critically), they can poke the pieces of the face out and put them back over and over again…repetition!!

When I first read over Linda’s steps, I was a little put off at first…it seems disingenuous to leave children out of the whole process…but then I thought back to the last time I tried to carve my own pumpkins…even as an adult it was hard, dangerous, and not especially fun, work. It makes sense to save the more fun and accessible part for toddlers. (Though I am ALMOST tempted to try pumpkin carving again after watching this!) Oh, and I also absolutely love Janet’s idea of letting children draw their own template for you to carve for them…though that might make it challenging to use the cookie cutters suggested in that video!

Most important to remember is to keep things predictable and low key…maybe do a dry run of taking turns ringing your own doorbell before the big day…and be prepared for lots of Halloween inspired play from preschoolers after Halloween. Children learn through play, and playing Halloween helps them make sense of it.

Thanks so much to those who have continued to check in with me. I’m keeping myself whole by staying in touch with family and friends, looking at pictures of Autumnal trees from Upstate New York, and, of course, teaching. Which reminds me, I want to point you to a new resource: www.magdagerber.org. In the very first brochure, you can read about the seven simple basic principles she put forth to guide parents over 44 year.

Here we are, 4 decades in, still practicing. It’s just that simple. It’s just that deep. And as my friend and colleague Hari Grebler puts it…the class Magda created was a place to feel things, to be in the moment, a place to clear your mind and quiet yourself so you could get to know your baby and yourself as a parent.

Wishing you a magical weekend,


PS…you may have noted that most of my resources were Halloween themed this week. That’s because Halloween is on my mind! I’m excited for the possibility of trick or treaters coming to my house for the very first time in my life! If you live near Tarzana and would like to trick or treat at my place, let me know. And please, please…if your family dresses up, I’d love to see pictures!

PPS…I also wanted to point you to what will almost certainly be a discussion worth attending. On Wednesday, November 2 at 7:30pm, you can attend Permission To Feel and Fail: The Power of Healthy Emotion Regulation at The Willows School in Culver City. It’s a discussion of the book with the author, Marc Brackett, PhD (Director of Yale School for Emotional Intelligence). The webinars that the Willows have put on over the past two years have been well worth watching…though I have to say I was completely stunned when I looked for the webinar link to send…but nope…this event is in person.