Our children are growing up and as this happens their questions are increasing. How many times have you heard that “why mom”? And of course, remember how many times you have heard questions about clock time…
What time is it; What time will we go for a walk? How long should I watch TV? Are we late to arrive? What time will you return from work?
These are just a few of the endless questions kids have about time. And as kids grow, questions get more and more. When you have something to do they keep asking “what time is it”, “what time will it be 3”, and “what time is in 10 minutes”. Until they want to gain knowledge of time and clock. They are now at an age where they can understand how time works and more specifically in our case, the clock. Let’s look at the steps needed to teach our children to “read” the clock.
It is a subject that constantly confuses them until they learn to “decrypt” the clock time. They look at the digital clocks that say 21.00, then you say “it’s 9 o’clock” and they wonder. Or even more difficult for them is to understand that 7.45 is the same as a quarter to eight… “Since it says 7, why do you say 8?” and then you try to explain something they can’t even understand…
What do you need?
A digital and/or analog watch/clock, depending on what stage they are at and what you want to show them. You can print and assemble the printable below with your child. Once the child has learned each stage, you can print out the corresponding exercises for practice.
Children who will be in the process of learning the time must know how to count to 60. They should also be able to do it by 5 (5, 10, 15, 20…).
Time for them to learn clock time
The long-awaited moment for the children to learn the time has come… In our case, I probably had more anxiety about the issue than our little Anastasis. What will I tell him? Where to start? What should I explain first? Even when I thought that maybe it would be better to let the teacher teach him time, his questions and queries were so many that he did not leave space for such a long (for his willingness to learn) wait. I thought that an internet search might give me some first answers about where to start and what to explain.
For better or worse, the internet now gives us help and solutions to many issues. However, we must not forget that everything must be adapted to our own measures and weights. I took a first look at how I can approach the subject and we made the beginning…
The first thing they need to know is the indicators and what they show us. We explain that the index that shows us the time is the smallest and is the one that moves slower than the rest.
Then the minute hand is the big indicator that shows the minutes of the hour. When the clock has a second, we explain to them the reason for its existence.
The next thing I did was explain to him that every day has 24 hours and every hour has 60 minutes. Then respectively every minute has 60 seconds. Of course, this led me to a “disastrous” result… Whenever I told him I was going to help him in a minute, the result was to hear him count at his own pace for 60 seconds, admittedly faster than the real thing…! Imagine what happened when I told him in “10 minutes we arrive” … He counted to his rhythm and when he reached 60 each time, he counted the corresponding minutes with his fingers… Each time he led me to unique smiles …
“Mom, why does it say 19.00 and you say that it is 7 o’clock”? As you can see, the existence of analog and digital clocks in the home today is another issue that raises questions. It was time for him to realize that after 12 noon, in order to find out what time it was, he had to do an abstraction with his little mind. Fortunately, in our case he loves numbers and did not have much trouble finding the time in the afternoon.
But if a child needs help to understand this step, then we can simply write on a piece of paper the ratio of digital to analog clock. For example when it writes the digital 17 in the position of time then we say 5 (17-12 = 5). Also, in the first phase, until they know the time, we can make the digital clocks show the time in a 12-hour way.
The next stage came a few days later, because, on the one hand, I wanted some questions to be answered, but on the other hand, I did not want everything to fall apart and confuse him. Maybe that was my thought and he would not have a problem if I tried to teach him what he needs to know about the time. But I thought there was no reason to hurry. And I followed his own pace because as you can see, the questions did not end with what he had already learned.
It’s time to learn that in the analog clock each number of the clock corresponds to 5 minutes of the hour. Thus, 1 of the clock corresponds to what we call “five past…”, because the clock has other smaller lines. These are the lines that show us the 60 minutes of the hour. So we played the “What time is it?” game.
Learning the clock time
The last step was to learn what the phrases “quarter past/to …” and “half past…” mean. It was relatively easier since he had learned the difficulties now. So we played the “time game” again.
If this lesson isn’t about things they learn at school, we do not need to hurry or push them. Do not forget that every child needs his time. Follow their rhythms.
Clock time practice exercises
Time is a difficult part that children are called to learn. It is a complex issue and it has its difficulties. The younger the child, the more difficult it is. We have given you some guidelines. Follow the child’s rhythms and you will see how easy it will seem to them at the end to learn that lesson.
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