School Bans Costumes for Mental Health Reasons

Hi bfnenrsnft
Readers! I’m up in Canada to give some talks to Early Educators, and one of them told me about a school in Paris, Ontario, that has banned Halloween costumes. Why? The school gave whole host  of reasons, including the fear that the costumes could upset some children, as could the prospect of wearing a costume. As could possibly losing a part of a costume. As could…every gosh darn thing about the holiday. According to the Brant News (boldface mine):

North Ward Principal Cathy Shaheen said the biggest concern is the anxiety some children feel from costumes that are “pushing the bounds”.

“We have been noticing this more and more so with the issues of anxiety and mental health,” she said.

Instead, students are being invited to wear black and orange clothing and participate in Halloween-themed activities including pumpkin carving and decorating.

Wow. Black and orange day at school. That sure sounds fun. Anyway, after announcement of this policy predictably outraged a lot of families, the school and district piled on MORE reasons for banning costumes:

According to a letter sent home from the school, other concerns raised by staff that impacted the decision for no costumes include an increase in supervision duties for teachers who have to help get students into their costumes, an increased need to monitor costumes’ appropriateness and irritated and crying students because of hot and uncomfortable costumes.

But wait! There’s more!

Other reasons listed point to students upset because of costume damage, costumes creating danger on the playground and a difficulty in monitoring students who can’t be photographed.

Ah, the photography issue. Of course! You can always throw that in. I’m just amazed they didn’t add the whole devil worship worry. But then again, if the devil is writing your Halloween policy, I guess you keep that quiet. – L.

Enjoy your day, children!

Enjoy your holiday, children!


, , , , , ,

74 Responses to School Bans Costumes for Mental Health Reasons

  1. Pophouse October 31, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Why can’t students be photographed?

  2. Dani October 31, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    several school around London, ON including our school Louise Arbour FI have also gone to orange and black. Very disappointed.

  3. Kristen October 31, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    In in canada right now and just left my grade 5 class for a break. I have a headless horseman, a zombie bride, a crash test dummy, and 20 other costumed kids excited and having a great time today! Give me a break!

  4. Christine October 31, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    I just found out that my kids’ middle school is the only one in our district of 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, and multiple elementary schools that bans costumes. The reason given is that “It’s disruptive to the learning environment.” Or as my son’s English teacher explained (with heavy sarcasm on back to school night) “Fun is against the rules.”

    Honestly is one day of fun in costume any more disruptive then the multiple days of soul sucking standardized testing they’re going to face in March and May?

    I’m going to talk to a few other moms I know and see if we can approach the principal to change things for next year.

  5. Neil M. October 31, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Let’s see…allows children to dress up as ghosts or astronauts is dangerous, but handing kids a carving knife to make a jack-o-lantern is safe. Got it.

  6. SOA October 31, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    We are not allowed to do costumes on Halloween or parties at school. They only allow the kindergardeners to do it because they trick or treat an old folks home as a field trip. Everyone else cannot wear them.

    The teacher don’t want to put up with helping kids get costumes on and off to potty (because a lot of them are hard to get in and out of for that), they don’t want to deal with scared kids or upset kids because they lost a costume piece or forgot to wear a costume that day or whatever.

    It just makes the teacher’s job that day harder and the kids are hyped up and don’t get much learning done. So I can see why they don’t allow it. I am not a fan of it, but I at least see why they don’t do it. With those stupid tests they have to use every instruction day to their advantage so they do.

    My kids get to go to a ton of fall festivals and halloween parties and events so we still get plenty of wear out of our costumes either way but it would be nice to be able to show them off to their school friends.

  7. E October 31, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    I grew up in the 60s/70s and never in my entire schooling were we allowed to wear costumes to school. I figure it was because you don’t trick or treat at school.

    I can’t even recall my kids (school in the 90s/00s) wearing costumes.

    It seems like a big pain in the butt.

  8. Stacy October 31, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    In our district, costumes are allowed for second through fifth grade. The younger grades, which are in a separate building, must wear orange and black. I do understand the reason given — the parties are in the afternoon and it’s a pain to help thirty five-year-olds in and out of their costumes — but it’s always a little disappointing for the kids. The teachers make it better by having every kid send in a photo of themselves in their costumes, so I think it really is just about the hassle. The older kids all wear costumes and parade around for parents to take photos — no one worries about kids accidentally being photographed without their parents’ permission. Although we have to sign a list to enter the building, it’s not like anyone asks for identification. HOWEVER, this is the first year makeup has been banned, reason not given. My evil queen is sad that she can’t wear blue eyeshadow and is more sad for a friend who was going to be a zombie.

  9. E October 31, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I guess you can glance at the reasons given and think it’s overblown (mental health), but they do include feedback from teachers, which IMO is most important.

    There’s a reason halloween parties are just an hour or so and that you trick or treat for a few hours. Wearing a costume all day seems like a huge hassle and distraction.

  10. Anna October 31, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Eh. School is for learning, costumes are for trick-or-treating. Perhaps older kids (who can also take care of their own costumes without needing grown-ups’ help) might be able to control their excitement and focus on school even while wearing a costume, but for the little ones it does seem like too much hassle for teachers to deal with. It’s not like they’re cancelling Halloween.

  11. Kathy October 31, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    At my daughter’s school I got the note for the party and for the most part it was fine. Although no hoods. Hats and masks are fine but hoods no way.??

  12. Leah Backus October 31, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    I don’t think this is as ridiculous as it sounds, actually. I’ve noticed the last few years that Halloween has gotten distinctly less spooky and more genuinely terrifying (especially for the little ones). Trends in hyper-realistic makeup and costumes (a la The Walking Dead zombies, etc.), people decorating their yards with corpses, etc. It’s a lot different than I remember as a child and it’s gotten to the point of messing with *my* anxiety a little! lol. Plus, you do get the idiots that go with the utterly inappropriate costumes (Ray Rice, anyone?). The commenter who pointed out that her kids would get to go to a lot of festivals and activities was spot-on. I live in the Bible Belt and Halloween is totally ignored in schools here. My daughter has never missed it or questioned it. She gets to wear her costume to the zoo, trick or treating, the farm park, I could go on. TLDR: I think some traditions are OK to let go.

  13. mystic_eye October 31, 2014 at 11:26 am #


    Originally a very few students couldn’t be photographed because of actual risks of kidnapping due, mostly due to the non-custodial parent being mentally ill or abusive (ie domestic abuse). By the sound of it it’s just become a thing any overly fearful parent can opt into and then teachers are supposed to somehow enforce it.

  14. Coasterfreak October 31, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    The only time I ever got to wear a costume to school was in Kindergarten (1975). Each year, the K kids would wear their costumes and then go to all the classrooms where the kids had older brothers and sisters, and the older kids would to try to guess who was in each costume. As their names were guessed, they would have to take off their mask. I remember the year my younger brother was in K, and I was too embarrassed to point him out because he was wearing a princess costume. When they finally unmasked him with nobody guessing, I remember the gasps from the rest of my 3rd grade class. And I tried to hide under my desk. LOL

    Anyway, I can understand why teachers wouldn’t want to deal with it, and I think that should be reason enough. They shouldn’t have to trump up idiotic and far-fetched reasons like anxiety issues and mental health.

  15. Laura October 31, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I don’t think we ever wore Halloween costumes at school when I was a child in the 80s. I can see how it would be potentially really disruptive and annoying in a lot of ways.

  16. Caitlin Jorgensen October 31, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    I am delighted to report that my son’s elementary school in Saratoga Springs, NY has just pushed back against this tide. After 15+ years of “no costumes at school,” students were allowed to bring in costumes today and wear them during their class parties. Hooray for imagination! Hooray for a little fun! And hooray to whomever (PTA? administration? a combination?) worked to make this change.

  17. Reziac October 31, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    “The school gave whole host of reasons, including the fear that the costumes could upset some children, as could the prospect of wearing a costume. As could possibly losing a part of a costume.”

    In other words, they’ve thought up every possible reason to give the kids an anxiety attack. Which is just dandy if you want them to grow up to be Special Snowflakes unable to cope with anything that isn’t perfectly scripted, purely positive, and utterly controlled.

    Here’s an article about “purely positive” and the damage it’s done to dog training, by a fellow canine professional whom I’ve known for 40 years:

    IT APPLIES EQUALLY TO KIDS, and not only the “rewards” aspect, but also coping skills (cuz if you never have negative feedback, you never learn what doesn’t work) … and having to cope with small disruptions like costumes might create IS a useful life skill.

  18. E October 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    @Leah — and in most cases this “tradition” is fairly recent. Holidays in general are a lot bigger deal (commercially) than ever before.

  19. E October 31, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    @Reziac — doesn’t this seem like it became a huge hassle for the school? Yes, they have a laundry list of reasons but it’s clear they no longer want to deal with the trappings of costumes.

    Let students learn to deal with disappointment and failure in the form of grades and school discipline — not because they are hot in their costume or scared of a classmates mask. They can do that when they are out trick or treating.

  20. Beth October 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    @Pophouse, yeah, I’m sure it’s about child custody issues, which have somehow become everyone’s problem and not just the problem of the family involved.

    But in thinking about it, does a non-custodial parent really NOT know where the kids go to school? If somehow he doesn’t (yes, I’m going to use he because it’s simpler, yes I know women can be non-custodial too), how’s he going to find out because a couple photos of the class Halloween party were taken and put up on the bulletin board?

  21. M October 31, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Gee, regular clothes can:

    1-upset some children (I can think of a few pre-schoolers that prefer nudity)
    2-upset children if they lose or damage clothing
    3-can be hot and/or uncomfortable

    Maybe we should just ban clothes?

    concerns raised by staff that impacted the decision for no costumes include an increase in supervision duties for teachers who have to help get students into their costumes, an increased need to monitor costumes’ appropriateness and irritated and crying students because of hot and uncomfortable costumes.

  22. Ben October 31, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    This ban is completely pointless. All it does, is drain the fun from the party. A child who is scared of costumes should either work to get over it or not celebrate Halloween.

  23. MichaelF October 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    In the 70’s we never wore costumes to school, that was always for trick or treating after school. Now my son’s elementary school has a parade where all the kids come out and parade around the athletic fields so parents can take pictures. It’s not bad, and the only rule is no weapons, so we can live with it, but times have changed.

    The problem with much of this is really the lousy justifications that come up to stop it. I’d be more angry at a lame excuse of “the kids will be terrified” rather than “we just don’t want to deal with the hassle, we’re a school.”

  24. EricS October 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    More and more, people show us that these “issues” are the result of individual opinions, and not a local, national or global concern. Because it isn’t. Stupid is as stupid does. Authorities are lazy these days. I remember, when teachers back in the day were involved in every aspect of their students lives. Seriously. They were like our aunts and uncles that we could talk to. They even administered “discipline” when necessary. With no retribution from our parents.

    Now they are just people working till the day is done, and keep student teacher contact to bare minimum. The mentality of, “if it’s not part of the curriculum, we don’t take care of it.” And “if it makes things more difficult for us to deal with, we just get rid of it”. “Here’s the book, here is the homework. Now go away.”

  25. Stephanie October 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Foster kids can’t be photographed either.

  26. JJ October 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Our public schools don’t have art, music, gym, guidance counselors, secretaries, or paper. While costumes at school on Halloween sure are a nice to have they are pretty far down on the need to have list for many schools.

  27. Liz October 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    By this same mentality, all testing should be banned.

  28. Jen October 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    So basically it all comes down to schools not wanting to deal with costumes because they view them as a waste of time and a pain in the ass to manage. I mean, let’s just call it what it is. No need for lame excuses about how costumes damage the delicate psyches of little Bobby or Jane. We just don’t want to have to supervise all that costume bullsh-t!

  29. Tim October 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    @Pophouse Some students are vampires. There likenesses will not reflect in a glass nor will they make an impression on photographic plates.

    But seriously, this just sounds like a lot of laziness on the part of the school’s staff. Just couldn’t be bothered.

  30. Margot October 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Aargh!. The whole “no photography” thing. We have just seen the most amazing original musical at my children’s primary school, which of course, plenty of people captured on video. Everyone is asking if the school can put together a video for distribution to the participant’s families. However, there are apparently 35 children at the school who can’t be photographed for various reasons (apprehended violence orders, in the care of the state, etc). None of the children would be identified by name in the video, apart perhaps from the principal cast, but with that many kids, its way too difficult to edit them out of the final product. I think the problem may lie in the fact that parents and guardians are asked on the kindergarten enrolment forms whether their child can be photographed, and this is never reviewed for changing circumstances, or when parents realise how much their child misses out on over their school years because of their ticking this box without perhaps a great deal of thought about the implications. Seriously, if you’re the birth parent of a child in care who doesn’t know where your child is living, or similarly the estranged violent father of a child, what are the chances that you’re going to get your hands on the video of the school musical when you don’t even know your child is at that school. It’s not like we’d be selling it at K-mart and the excluded party would accidentally see their child in it and know where they go to school. And if you do know your child is at that school, then what damage is done? The whole thing seems quite nonsensical to me.

  31. pentamom October 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    On the one hand, the “mental health” concern seems like an overblown, First World problem sort of thing. Their reasons in this case sound fairly questionable.

    On the other hand, why are people so invested in whether a given school wants to permit kids to wear costumes to school? Since when are schools obligated to have kids participate in non-school-related holiday activities on school time, or else be castigated for not doing so?

    When schools get overbearing about what kinds of ordinary daily behavior kids can engage in, that’s inappropriate. The school not wanting to sponsor optional holiday activities that do somewhat detract and distract from the educational process, when the main focus of Halloween has always been on evening activities anyway, should not be such a big deal to people.

  32. Glen October 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    I’m trying to imagine 20 years into the future when kids today will have a real tragedy or misfortune to deal with. They will not be able to cope.

  33. pentamom October 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    It may be a regional thing or something; I know that in the 70s the schools I went to allowed/encouraged costumes up to a certain grade — probably 5th or something like that. We’d have a “party” and have a “parade” of marching a couple blocks around the school in our costumes. So it’s not entirely modern, but maybe it’s more widespread than in the past.

  34. Peter October 31, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    One of my co-workers inadvertently ended up wearing orange and black today. While her orange top is sort of “traditional” hallowe’en, the black shorts were unintended.

    She was very upset because, as an LA Dodgers fan, the last thing she wanted to be wearing were the team colors for the SF Giants.

    I believe that this is just a conspiracy to create more Giants fans by equating the orange and black colors with candy. Won’t somebody think of the children?

  35. Kay October 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I’m with E and Leah, as a kid, we never wore our costumes to school in that era. I don’t know when this “tradition” started. I don’t really mind it that my kids’ school has them take their costumes to school and put them on at the end of the day for the parade around school and they have a party after. So no all day in a costume. It stops after elementary.

  36. Betsy in Michigan October 31, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    It’s not a “modern” thing! We had Halloween parties complete with costumes in elementary school in ’70’s (40 years ago!). Teachers were not expected to help us into our costumes (perhaps our little snowflakes today can’t do it by themselves). Most of us lived out in the country (no sidewalks; houses far apart)and didn’t have much opportunity for trick-or-treating unless our parents drove us around. But I’m sure the in-town kids did the same school parties and costumes at that time. We certainly didn’t have the overload of candy that we experience today, though – it’s such a serious problem that I wish candy (and its liquid counterpart, soda pop) were taxed. My liquor is and I don’t complain!

  37. E October 31, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    @EricS — nice HUGE generalization:

    Now they are just people working till the day is done, and keep student teacher contact to bare minimum. The mentality of, “if it’s not part of the curriculum, we don’t take care of it.” And “if it makes things more difficult for us to deal with, we just get rid of it”. “Here’s the book, here is the homework. Now go away.”

    I have 3 siblings that are teachers and I can assure that they never had that attitude (and most of the friends of their I met that were teachers were not either).

    I can also assure you that the teacher that I grew up with weren’t “like aunts and uncles” (why should they be?) they were just — teachers. Some were nice, some were mean, some were GREAT, some were not.

    But costumes on halloween does not indicate ANYTHING about the teachers one way or another.

  38. Jill October 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    When I taught preschool a zillion years ago, we used to have to help kids get into their costumes. This involved touching the children. Touching the children is a very bad idea today. I’m so glad that I’m no longer a teacher.

  39. Emily Morris October 31, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    … There are no words. Wow.

    I’ll true to come up with some random thoughts.

    I’m a teacher. Our school didn’t do costumes today. Just because. We have a no-costume policy. That’s that. Love it or hate it, that’s the policy. BUT the school didn’t make up excuses. Students wore their uniforms, so no silly black-and-orange day either.

    A local high school has its mascot a Tiger. So I associate “black and orange day” with support-that-school-by-wearing-school-colors. Halloween is not my first thought with those colors.

    Back to those excuses… what in the world? What does that school administration think of its students? Can’t trust them with a costume?

  40. Emily Morris October 31, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    I’ll make a conclusion:

    If a school doesn’t want to allow costumes, fine. But let’s not blame the children’s snowflake fragility.

  41. Chuck99 October 31, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    The main thought I had after reading their concerns, re: mental health, is the same one I have so often upon reading/hearing/talking to people. “Why are they not shocked that we ever lived this long, as fragile as they think children are?”

    Or is it just this generation of children who are both incompetent and made of spun glass?

  42. Red October 31, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    When I was growing up, all the schools I attended had no-costume policies.

    The school my kid attended for the first year and a half of his elementary career DID allow costumes for Halloween but the rules on what they allowed were so restrictive I found it to be a pain in the butt. Two years of Halloween and both years most of the pieces of my kid’s chosen costume were banned. We moved, and his new school doesn’t allow costumes. There is no excuse or explanation–I think they have simply never allowed costumes.

    He can put on his ninja costume when he decides to go trick or treating.

  43. Buffy October 31, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    I might have to call bull on “foster children can’t be photographed”, or at least see proof.

    From the opposite side, I found this:

    ” Adoption premieres, galas, and expos are organized where hundreds of families come to learn about adoption and view the children’s portraits.

    How do they keep anyone from seeing photos of foster children, that they themselves have taken, at all these premieres, galas, and expos? Is a casual photo at school really going to be a deal-breaker?

  44. CLamb October 31, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    “…and a difficulty in monitoring students who can’t be photographed.” The only students who can’t be photographed are the ones who aren’t there and the vampires. The ones who might need monitoring are the students who shouldn’t be photographed.

  45. BL October 31, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    “School Bans Costumes for Mental Health Reasons”

    One way to parse this is: School Bans Costumes because the school is stark raving mad.

  46. CrazyCatLady October 31, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    My daughter’s first school allowed costumes. Kinder dressed up and did a tour of the classrooms to show off their costumes. 1st and up put theirs on in the afternoon, did a parade and then had a party. That way the kinder kids didn’t have to get upset by some of the more scary costumes.

    Our current district does not do Halloween. Classrooms can decide to have a harvest party if they want. And…there are a lot of people whom I have found who are offended by Halloween. I encourage them to turn off their lights because they get annoyed, but I think they take perverse pleasure in kids wasting their time. Personally, I would rather not bother them, but they know the rules…if the light is on, there is supposed to be candy.

    I think the costume thing matters most to the high schoolers. I think that they can get away with more because so many of them regularly do Steampunk or Goth, as their regular outfits that is not as noticeable when they take it up a notch.

  47. Donna October 31, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    The reasons are stupid but I’m perfectly fine with no costumes in school. My daughter’s school doesn’t do anything for Halloween at all and it has never bothered me. Actually, she had off today and will be out of elementary school before Halloween is on a school day again so this a complete non issue.

    I agree with Pentamom; this seems like a really stupid thing to be upset about. Not sure where this idea that schools MUST celebrate ANY specific non-education-based activity comes from. I don’t mean that non-education-based activities should not be done; just that I don’t see a universal obligation for any specific one.

  48. Donna October 31, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Foster children absolutely can be photographed. Foster parents are not allowed to post pictures of their foster children on Facebook, etc., but otherwise there is no ban. There is absolutely requirement that they be removed from school photos or the like.

  49. Margot October 31, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    @Donna and @Buffy.
    There are different rules in other countries and from state to state. No all Free Range parents are Americans. In my state in Australia, photographs of children in care may not be published. Once photos of any children are distributed throughout the school community, the school looses control of the photos, so they could well end up in the internet. That’s why the school asks whether the children can be photographed in the first place. I get it, although I don’t necessarily agree for the reasons I gave previously, and additionally, I don’t think this prohibition is taking account of the changing technology of the world we live in.

  50. Emily October 31, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    You know, Donna, there are ways to make the celebration of Halloween educational. The schools could teach kids how to write effective ghost stories through the use of description, or about colloidal suspensions by making slime with cornstarch and water (food colouring optional, but green is a popular choice). Then there are all kinds of math concepts that could go into preparing for the school Halloween party–measuring the classroom for decorations, budgeting a certain amount of money for a class party, and letting the kids collaborate on how to use it, mixing up the punch for the Halloween party by using ratios (say, two parts red Kool-Aid, to one part ginger ale). The kids could do tallies of the most popular costumes they saw, or of their classmates’ favourite Halloween candy. That’s not even touching the history of Halloween itself, or the Salem Witch Trials. So, with a little creativity, the schools could get on board with Halloween, and also make it at least somewhat educational. They don’t have to, but there are ways to make it work.

  51. Donald October 31, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    When I see things like this, I’m unsure how to respond or even what the conversation is about! That’s because any reply that I would have would feel like I’m talking to Howard Hughes

    “Howard, it’s ok if your mashed potatoes touches your prime rib.”

    Arguing that children are brave/mature enough to see a Halloween costume is like using Cool Whip instead of paint for your house! Obviously there is a much deeper issue about why people buy into the hysteria such as OCD or why the bureaucrats act like the people abducted on the film, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’

  52. pentamom October 31, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Emily, the point is, you can meet all those educational goals you mention with or without Halloween. You can teach all those things in other ways. Halloween costumes are not essential to the educational process, nor is letting kids do Halloween stuff in school essential to them having fun at Halloween.

    Sure, they can do it, and I have no problem with it — my high school daughter enjoyed being able to dress up as a hipster today (which where she goes, is a significant departure from the dress code.) But to get up in arms because a particular fun activity that relates to something mostly celebrated outside school is not sponsored by the school, seems silly. Now if they banned all references to Halloween or something, that would be dumb, too. But simply saying that wearing costumes, assuming they’re not giving dumb reasons, is not going to be any more permitted on October 31 than any other day, is not some huge fun-denying crisis.

  53. SOA October 31, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    Our school definitely did Halloween related things like crafts and stories and decorations but they are only allowed 3 parties a year-winter break (Christmas), Valentines and Field day (last day of school). Some parents brought goody bags and some moms snuck in snacks today.

    I am okay with schools leaving holidays and parties and celebrations up to the parents. I know as a parent I go all out and make sure my kids have a good holiday experience on my own and don’t need the school to be a part of that. If the school lets them, great, but they will be fine without it too.

    Parents need to take responsibility to giving their kids a magical childhood. If you want them to have a great halloween take them to boo at the zoo, trick or treating, on a haunted hayride, throw them a Halloween party, carve pumpkins with them, the whole family can dress up together, do Halloween crafts, etc. Don’t just leave that up to the school. You can do the work and make sure they have a great holiday experience.

  54. VictorianPuffball October 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    We stopped wearing halloween costumes to school in 5th grade. I was pretty disappointed. By middle school the teachers thought we were too old even though highschoolers go trick-or-treating out here.

    You’re never too old for free candy IMO.

  55. J.T. Wenting November 1, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    could imagine the school deciding to ban halloween as a heretical festival that’s not in accordance with the writings of the prophet (may he burn in eternal damnation).
    And if they did that, I’m sure people would shout out their approval at how tolerant and multi-cultural the school is…

    Got to wonder why the school board didn’t think of that…

  56. lollipoplover November 1, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    If I were to assess the mental health of the costumed children yesterday in our elementary parade, I’d have to say that 95% were smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves immensely. Waving to cameras, stopping to pet my dogs (who were also in costume), and enjoying a few hours of dressing up and participating in a much-loved community event. I love to see these kids and teachers dress up!

    Our school hasn’t changed the traditional Halloween parade in years. Always on Halloween, the kids walk off school property and down the street (closed to traffic) for about 3/4 mile. Kids wear comfortable shoes and are expected to be able to put on their own costumes. Practicing at home is encouraged and elementary appropriate costumes are too. My oldest daughter is artsy and loves to help with makeup (she knows not to share and volunteers as a face painter for school functions) and did the faces of 4 of her classmates.
    One classmate forgot his costume. She made him an angry clown. They have parties with games and contests after. It is a favorite day in terms of fun at school.

    I can’t imagine the kids who are so excited for Halloween are going to be learning much this day anyway. And if your kid has anxiety or is hot and itchy putting on a costume, you have the wrong costume. Find a hat, wig, or mask and call it a day. The need to complicate and over-evaluate basic childhood events and put complex procedures in place is ruining fun traditions.

  57. Donna November 1, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Emily – Sure Halloween can be made educational – which then saps all the fun out of it – but it isn’t mandatory. There is nothing written in the code of Halloween or education that says that Hallloween must be an all day affair and that the schools must participate. Same for any holiday. And, let’s face it, costumes in school sound like great fun, but in reality are probably pretty uncomfortable. I don’t want to be in a costume all day.

    When this thread came up, I had to stretch my brain to even remember whether we did costumes in elementary school or not. Despite having detailed memories of trick or treating at the same age, I was able to come up with a very vague recollection of dressing up at school so guess we did. My child has done both. Her school in A. Samoa allowed costumes and her school in GA doesn’t. She has expressed no sadness over no costumes in school nor any real preference either way. She hasn’t even mentioned it.

    Now, the school should have just said “we aren’t doing costumes this year because we don’t feel like it,” and not come up with a bunch of completely stupid reasons, but that aside, there is no problem with keeping Halloween festivities out of school.

    There are things that I find egregious about Halloween today – parents driving their kids from house to house, mall trick or treating, the need for supervision at ages where kids should be able to go out in groups, x-raying candy, locking up all sex offenders for the night. Schools not wanting to mess with costumes doesn’t even rank in my top 50.

  58. Donna November 1, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Margot – The comment wasn’t that foster children’s pictures couldn’t be PUBLISHED online. It was that the pictures couldn’t be TAKEN. Of course they can. There may be a prohibition on posting said pictures on a school website, classroom blog or newsletter (I do question where there is truly a ban on these things and would want to see the rule), but the taking of the pictures for school or private use is no problem.

  59. Laura November 1, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Wow! Pumpkin carving? With REAL knives???

  60. Gina November 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    My kids’ school doesn’t allow costumes, but two days before Halloween, we received a note saying that kids could dress up to represent a decade (’20s, ’80s, etc.). They don’t want Halloween costumes, but they want specific costumes on Halloween. So frustrating–two days before Halloween, I am not in the mood to make a new costume. Of course some kids just wore their Halloween costumes anyway. I think a dress up day would be fun, but if they are requiring a specific costume, can we have it on a different day?

    It’s as though the administration feels some regret over how much fun they’ve sucked out of the rest of the school year and tries to make up for it in a way that ends up being annoying.

  61. Kim November 2, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    So I read this article and several others regarding this issue. I am bewildered and disappointed by the sheer lack of true recognition as to where and why this “issue” has arisen. Wake up Canada! It is irrelevant whether or not this is because some teachers are lazy and don’t want to help the young ones with their costumes. Its not about the costumes being to real and scary. Its not about some kids wanting to dress up and others not. What it boils down to is just another Canadian societal/traditional compromise because of religious beliefs. During the news interviews its amazing that none of the parents that opposed costumes and dressing up wanted to appear on camera. Is a child dressing up for one day and just having fun in a costume that represents an event one time a year so offensive? Is it making some people so insecure that they need to impose their way and take this away from the kids. Nobody says you have to dress your kids up, so why are the minority voices dictating that we cannot dress our kids up. I have always and will continue to pass on to my kids the traditions I grew up with and as long as they are not breaking any Canadian laws it is my right to do so. I refuse to give in to the pressures of foriegners and their religious views. I don’t contest or try to ban their ways whether I agree with them or not. Im not trying to offend anyone by telling them I don’t like what they do and I expect the same in return. Enough is enough! Stand up for yourself, believe in what you believe in, and stay strong.

  62. EB November 2, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Couple of things:

    1. Schools are usurping Halloween. Used to be a community-based holiday with all activities happeneing after school. Maybe we colored pumpkins or read Halloween stories and ate popcorn. End of story.

    2. But, in rural areas where it is hard to trick or treat door to door, I can see the school being chosen as the location for a Halloween party. After school hours, though.

    3. In low income neighborhoods, where it is too dangerous to trick or treat and some kids have no way to have a costume, same story: let the school have a party, but not too much emphasis on the costumes.

    4. Overall, Halloween has become too much of a big deal. yes, it’s fun. Yes, it’s rooted in ancient traditions (not necessarily religious ones, but religious ones too). When adults are spending big bucks on costumes you know that the little-kid aspect is being lost.And one more thing: there is such a thing as a costume that is scary to little kids. Use some judgment: no weapons, no blood, no dripping eyeballs in school.

  63. Steve November 2, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Attending school and sitting in class is a primary cause of disturbing anxiety and emotional upset for many kids, but I don’t see school administrators saying they’ll begin telling students to stay home if attending school disturbs them too much.

    And how about teachers who bully their students? Has anyone called for an end to teachers punishing them with bad grades if they don’t get their papers handed in. Of course I’m being somewhat facetious, but what I just suggested is about as sane as the “irrational school administrators” running our schools.

    Unfortunately, we have become a victim society. Everyone is a victim and must be protected.

    Look at the “thinking” of entire cultures that make up so-called 3rd world countries. It is their “thinking” that keeps them the way they are.

  64. JKP November 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I was thinking of the book Wonder I read last year. It’s about a 10-year old boy born with severe facial deformities who is going to school for the first time after home schooling for years (his parents wanted to “protect” him from the ridicule of his peers). It’s a great free-range book showing this boy growing from a range of experiences both positive and negative. But one thing that stood out was how much he loved Halloween because it was the one day of the year that he could feel “normal”, dressed up in costume no one noticed his deformities. Many of the reviews for the book from people who have lived through similar life experiences themselves, either firsthand or through relatives/friends, also commented on how common it was for Halloween to be the favorite holiday because the costumes allowed them to blend in to the crowd for one day of the year.

    How sad that kids like the boy in Wonder couldn’t enjoy one day a year in costume because some other kid might be too anxious to handle a day of seeing others in costumes.

  65. hineata November 3, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    @Steve – OTT, but Western ‘thought practices’ are better than ‘third world’ ones? Not all, but a large proportion of third world problems can be linked back to Western country ‘thinking’ and actions, from three hundred years ago right through to today. Even some of the current terrorist threats exist because of silly foreign policies from some of the larger Western nations.

    So lay off the third world. We’re only a decent famine, infrastructure collapse or pandemic away from joining them, anyway – especially with idiots like that Ebola nurse in Maine (?) exercising their so-called ‘civil rights’.

  66. Maggie in VA November 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    My guess is that the anxiety and mental health line is just to side-step the real issue, not wanting a slew of girls in sexy this-that-and-the-other costumes showing up and ticking off the conservative parents. We never went to school in costume when I was a kid, and I don’t see why the school can’t just say we’re not going there anymore, it’s too much distraction from academics.

  67. Warren November 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    There is absolutely no reason to ban costumes, or any other festive wear. None whatsoever.
    And parents have got to stop letting schools pull BS like this.

  68. tdr November 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    the sad part is how stressed out kids are these days. this just reflects that. not enough play time.

  69. KayDee November 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    My children go to school in the same district as spotlighted in this article. 5 years ago it was also black and orange only. Now they can wear costumes (that they can put on and take off themselves), each class has a different activity planned as well as a haunted maze in the gymnasium which raises money for charity. I feel this shift started when the current principal started 5 years ago. I should also note that this same principal is keen on getting the kids outside to play no matter what the weather so I feel we have a free ranger at the helm.

  70. Warren November 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    This goes hand in hand with all the pc crap around every freaking holiday going.

    So let’s get things straight.

    Valentine’s Day is for lovers. Not kids, not pets not anyone else. Lovers.

    St. Patty’s Day is for me to get drunk in honour of 1/3 my bloodline.

    Easter, is for kids, the big fluffy bunny and a chocolate high that lasts 48 hrs. Then dad gets the leftovers.

    Mother’s Day, is the day when we honour our moms, and the moms of our kids. So dads, get off your ass.

    Father’s Day, is the day we want our kids to leave us the hell alone.

    All long weekends in the summer, for outdoor fun with family and friends. Over eating, loud, beer and fun.

    Halloween, is the fall version of Easter. 48 hr sugar high, but in costume.

    Thanksgiving, be it the states or Canada. Huge meal, lots of family and friends, and a nap on the couch.

    Christmas………not winter holiday, break or whatever. IT IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A MERRY EFFING CHRISTMAS.

    New Years Eve, don’t really care, to old, to tired and haven’t rang in the new year in yrs. Do whatever you like.

  71. BC teacher November 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Yeah, we’ve been doing Orange and Black Day at my school in British Columbia for AT LEAST the last 5-7 years. The reasons?
    1) Students could accidently damage their costumes before trick or treating – parents get angry.
    2) Younger students could be scared by older kids’ costumes – parents get angry.
    3) Less affluent students could feel shamed by the more affluent students’ costumes – parents get angry.
    4) Non-Halloween-celebrating students could feel excluded – parents get angry.

    See a pattern?

  72. Papilio November 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    @Warren: “St. Patty’s Day is for me to get drunk in honour of 1/3 my bloodline”

    1/3?? How does that work, exactly? Incest? Your parents are halfsiblings and one of your 3 grandparents was Irish??

  73. pentamom November 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    1/3 might be a round number for, for example, 5/16, or 22/64. 🙂

  74. Warren November 7, 2014 at 11:47 am #


    My bloodlines go back to English, Highland Scot and Irish in varying ways, degrees and probably clandestine flings. So instead of trying to figure out exact, just use the 1/3.