Education Category

Daylight Saving Time …How that “One Little Hour” can reek havoc on the lives of our children

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 AM Sunday, November 4, 2012.  For the majority of us, that means we get an extra hour of sleep and relaxation before starting the day.  But that little extra time comes with a price.  I am always a little off kilter after the time change – my body is trying to figure this all out while mourning the loss of daylight saving time.  If it affects me in this way, how does the time change affect our children?

Children generally do not use watches, but they can tell when there is a change in the behavior of the family and at the child care center.  Children thrive on schedules, which is why their behavior is linked to our schedules. When those schedules are disrupted, it can cause changes in their behavior. An extra hour in bed for you might mean your child wakes up at the same time needing the bathroom or to eat breakfast. If you’re not careful, it can seem like you woke up to a stranger.

Keep a close eye on your child for any changes in their behavior after the time change. If children seem to be more anxious (not hungry at mealtime are having more toileting accidents than normal) try getting up an hour earlier and seeing if the behavior continues.

For parents and early childhood educators, it is important to explain to older children that the clock says one thing while our body’s clock says something else, and that it will take awhile for the brain and body to get in sync with the new time.

At Little River School, we accommodated the change by serving meals at the old time rather than keep young tummies waiting.  Naps are scheduled at the old time and we carefully integrate the new time slowly over the course of the week.

Most importantly, is the issue of drop off and pick up time.   Most children will now be waking up when the sun is up, while just days before they woke when it was dark.  The most worrisome challenge at the child care center is around pick-up time because children are now going home in the dark.  Children are accustomed to returning home while the sun was shining and they may be used to taking walks or a trip to the park after daycare.  But now, parents will now arrive after dark.  It is important to talk about the schedule change with your child and remind them that although it is dark outside, you or someone they know will return and take them home.

Anxious behavior may occur during this time.  The area where you live will impact behavior as well.  Cold, wind, rain, and snow can come without warning and children should be prepared for less time outside, lessening their time in the sun.

An excellent resource is the Science Daily article:

Daylight Saving Time Disrupts Humans’ Natural Circadian Rhythm, “When we implement small changes into a biological system which by themselves seem trivial, their effects, when viewed in a broader context, may have a much larger impact than we had thought,”

Daylight Saving Time Disrupts Humans’ Natural Circadian Rhythm

Science Daily — When people living in many parts of the world move their clocks forward one hour in the spring in observance of daylight saving time (DST), their bodies’ internal, daily rhythms don’t adjust with them, reports a new study.* The finding suggests that this regular time change–practiced by a quarter of the human population–represents a significant seasonal disruption, raising the possibility that DST may have unintended effects on other aspects of human physiology, according to the researchers. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024123249.htm

Post by: Roseann Murphy

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