“What time is it?” It’s a question you will hear many times a week. In life, time is of the essence, and so it’s important to know how to tell time. So, since it’s very important, now the question is, “How can I teach my child to tell time?”
There are a couple of things to consider before beginning to teach your child time concepts. Firstly, are they old enough? Children can start learning this concept at a very early age, but the best time seems to be between three and six years of age, your preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders. Also, should you use a digital or analog (hands) clock? The answer is both, since the child will encounter both throughout their lives. But you’d be best served to start with analog to get the visual concept home, especially for those children just learning to read.
Obviously, the first step in teaching time is the first step in teaching anything to a child: Make it fun! The message won’t sink in by just telling them, ìThis long hand is for minutes, and that shorter hand is for hours,î or, ìLook, the clock says 6:45.î You might as well be saying it in Ancient Greek.
So, you reach them through fun, but how? A few suggestions:
4 Fun Activities for Teaching Children to Tell Time
Make a Clock
Children love to create with their hands. You can harness this to teach time by helping them make their own clock. Cut a circle of cardboard for the base, then on a piece of construction paper, have the child trace the circle on to the paper, glue it to the cardboard, then number it like a clock. Make the two hands out of two different sizes and colors to reinforce the difference between hour hand and minute hand. Using a brass brad, attach the hands through the middle of the clock and fan the arms out on the bottom to hold it in place.
Teach Through Song
Find a song that talks about time, such as oldies classic “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. Have the child repeat to you what happens at each hour in the song. Or, help the child create a song of their own. Not only will it help them remember the concept strongly (children, like all of us, have a great memory for songs and lyrics), it will give them yet another bond with you, something even more valuable.
Create a Schedule
There’s certain things that your child does at certain times throughout the day, like bedtime, schooltime, when a favorite television show is on, mealtimes, and so on. Here is a perfect opportunity to teach time. Use our free printable daily homeschool planner for kids to plot out a schedule. Throughout the day, look at the nearest clock to you and tell them, “Look, it’s 3:30,” (if it’s an analog clock) “The big hand is at three, the little hand is at six, and that means it’s 3:30, it’s time for Pokemon Go!” When it’s dinner time, again, point out the time. Do this consistently to keep the memory fresh in their minds.
Take a Trip
Do you live near a church that rings the bells on the hour? Or know someone with an old grandfather clock or one with electronic chimes? Go see it. The sound will stay in their memories, especially if its a beautfiul sound from a piece of art like a bell tower or grandfather clock. And if there’s not one near you? You’re sitting in front of the answer now, as there’s countless ways to see and hear clocks, like Big Ben in London, over the Internet.
And your imagination can provide many more. There’s hundreds of ways to do it, and they’re all fun to do. They’ll teach your child time, and that quality time is important, too!
Also published on Medium.