Changing the clocks in the spring and fall
        In the fall, we “fall back” and in the spring we “spring forward”  one hour. Perhaps your child has been noticing that it is getting darker earlier or staying light longer, as well as getting a bit colder or getting warmer. This is a good time to talk about two issues: one scientific and one regarding home safety.

        In a discussion about the changing number of hours of light and darkness, you will likely be talking about the earth’s rotation on its axis, its revolving around the sun, the seasons, directions, the equinoxes (vernal and autumnal) and the solstices (summer and winter). It’s a good way to get your child grounde in these concepts.

        Ask the kids: What time is it now when it gets dark? Is it dark when you get up in the morning? Have them make note of the level of darkness, and then look at a clock. See how this compares to what they see on Sunday morning and evening, after the time has been changed.

        Many newspapers and almanacs print the time of sunrise and sunset. On the Internet you could Ask Jeeves ( for the time at many given locations. Over the next few months, keep track of the changing times. For older kids, see how the number of hours of light changes until the winter solstice, then reverses.

        The International Association of Fire Chiefs, along with a battery company, promotes a home safety fire awareness program coincident with the changing of our clocks from Daylight Savings Time. They use this as a reminder to check the batteries in your home smoke alarms.

        Their brochure tells us that 92% of all American homes have smoke alarms. One third of these alarms do not work, however, because the battery is either worn out or missing. They say that the chances of surviving a home fire nearly doubles when an effective smoke alarm is in your home.

        The time, then, is right for these two lessons: learning about the earth’s rotation and keeping your family safer in the event of a home fire. Please don’t keep your kids in the dark about either issue.

 This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents. 

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