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 (www.ask.com) 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.