Fall officially begins on September 23, 2010 with the autumnal equinox. What does this mean, exactly? In simple terms, it means that the sun moves southward and crosses the “celestial equator” so that the northern hemisphere (which is where we live) will experience less daylight, colder weather, and less direct sunlight. For folks who live in Alaska, this is the time of year that daylight becomes illusive and short lived each day. At the time of the equinox, “the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.”
What does this mean for after-school?
It means that we are clearly establishing routines and schedules that will carry us throughout the year. Of course you want schedules and routines to be flexible, but if you don’t establish them to begin with, no one will know that you are flexible, it will simply be perceived that you haven’t bothered to establish the routine needed to be a high-quality program.
It means that “dark-thirty” will soon be upon us and we will again need to consider students who walk home from the program, and how we can get them home before dark. In California you need to have a policy around this very real occurrence so you are handling this situation the same way every time, and always in the “best interest” of the young people that you serve. You will want to craft this “Early Release” policy to allow youth to leave before sundown during this period of time.
It means that we can naturally encourage our youth to look at college life, especially as it is supported by home coming events, fall sports, and the eagerness of students during the first semester. With older youth have them select a college or university that they are interested in learning more about, and then have them follow the college or university online and in the newspaper. Invite students from a nearby college or university to come and talk with the students about college life. You might even want to consider a field trip and a campus tour.
Fall is a wonderful time of the year. Enjoy each and every day with the students in your program.
Fall can be back-to-school for after-school staff as well. Check out our Vocational Training and Online Instruction opportunities at www.consultfourkids.com
 The September Equinox Explained. http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/september-equinox.html August 23, 2010.