Teaching Kids How to Read a Clock and Tell time

How to Teach Children to Read Clock and Tell Time

As your child grows up and starts learning small words or begins to recite the alphabet, you may attempt to slowly introduce different concepts of communication and various aspects of the world to him. Teaching kids about a clock and making them understand the concept of time and the different portions of the day is one of the most challenging aspects for anyone. They might be aware of day and night based on the changes in the environment and activities at home, but not fully grasp the very essence of the passage of time.

When To Introduce the Concept of Time to Children?

You might have noticed that children fail to understand how long a particular activity might take or the duration it takes to reach from one place to another. You might all be in a car driving to meet your relatives, the entire journey taking around an hour, and your little one might ask “are we there yet” after just 10 minutes. Kids can inherently start picking up numerous skills and learn a number of activities, but understanding the passage of time is not one of them. Not only can they not read a clock but they don’t understand how time, too, can be rationed into different blocks. As your child grows up and different activities start becoming a part of his life, he will gradually start understanding how time functions in his own life. Right from preparing to school, down to playing video games, each slot of time will make him understand the essence and the need for a clock to be present.

Teaching Kids How to Tell Time

If you end up teaching your child how to read time just like you teach math, science or languages, you are bound to end up with a kid that is even more confused than before. It is best to introduce the building blocks that constitute the formation and tracking of time, and then start putting them together and form their connections.

1. The Counting of Numbers

When your kid is able to count numbers and understand them, you can start off by teaching him to count to 60 uninterrupted. This may take a few attempts until he starts getting it right on each try. Combine that counting when you go shopping or are sorting out newspapers and ask him to keep aside 15 pages or take 23 grapes and so on.

Once the counting to 60 has been established, start teaching him to break it down into portions of 5. This will allow him to visualize the group of numbers that form packets of 5 and reach the number 60 in this regard. Each packet can then be assigned a number, which forms the digits on a clock.


2. Focus On General Durations

Instead of jumping right away into specific times, start by making your child aware of the daily blocks of time that are used in everyday conversations. Beginning with morning and night, you can then expand these to morning, afternoon, evening and night. These can be represented by activities that take place at home, such as brushing teeth in the morning, having lunch in the afternoon, playing in the evening, and sleeping at night. Slowly and steadily, you can break these further into the early morning, late afternoon and so on, and get granular in terms of conveying time.

3. Make Your First Clock

Instead of buying a small analogue clock for your child, engage him in craft exercise that involves making one. All it requires is a small paper plate and a sketch pen. To help your kid, mark out the portions of digits lightly with a pencil and write the digit “1” for him. Let him start filling the other digits accordingly, and complete the circle with “12”. Now, recall the exercise of counting in portions of 5, and ask your kid to draw lines around the plate, in such a manner that the fifth line always ends up on a number. This, too, might take a few attempts before he can divide the portions equally.

4. Use Existing Time References

With the craft clock in hand, stick a long and a short strip on it which can be moved around. Pick your child’s school timetable or refer to the television guide that shows the timings of his favourite cartoons. Pick a show and ask him to read aloud the timing on it. Beginning with full-hour timings, let the minute hand sit on 12 and ask your kid to adjust the hour hand accordingly. Some parents find it useful to refer to a digital clock as well and compare both of them to help their child understand better.

5. Going Down to Minutes and Seconds

Over time, your child will be able to read the full-hour depictions of time as well as the major minute portions of it as well. Now, it is necessary for him to understand the relations between each division between the large numbers and the synchronization of the second hand with the minute hand. Do not delve into a 24-hour clock at this stage, since the entire concept of numbers and minutes will get baffling for him. Let him understand how a single rotation of the second hand, shifts the minute hand by one step, but one rotation of the minute hand shifts the hour hand to the next big number.

As adults, we look at the concept of time and reading clocks as an involuntary act. We barely remember how we ended up learning about time in the first place. But when we start teaching our own kids, the enormity of the concept starts dawning upon us. Using some easy telling the time activities for kids can help you in this regard, and not make the entire journey of understanding clocks and time durations another duty for your little one. Pretty soon, he will be engaged in the household, going around talking about what time it is and whether someone is late or early, making him feel like a grown-up altogether.

Also Read:

How to Teach Hindi to Kids
Basic Life Skills to Teach Your Child

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