“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” As our favourite White Rabbit demonstrated, good time-keeping is important for a stress-free life. If the time (pardon the pun) has come to teach your little one how to tell the time, here are some top tips.
Make sure the time is right (sorry, we can’t help ourselves)
On average, children start learning how to tell the time around age seven or eight but each child is different and learns at a different pace. If you’re not sure when to begin teaching them, there are some simple signs or milestones they need to have reached to make time-telling easier. For example they’ll need to be able to count to at least 60, while a basic understanding of maths will make the concepts easier to understand; the five times table is especially useful and should be mastered before time-telling lessons begin.
Big hands for little hands
Children tend to be very hands-on when it comes to learning so it’s a good idea to get them a training clock. You can buy ones specially made for children or simply purchase a cheap, large clock with hands that can be easily and safely moved around.
The concepts of time-telling can be complex so it’s a good idea to start small and work your way up. Start by explaining that each number on the clock represents another number too, one means five, two means ten, etc. Once this is understood, move on to explaining the hour hand, then the minute hand, then how both hands work together and so on. Breaking everything down into manageable chunks is much easier than trying to explain the concept of time overall.
Practise, practise, practise
Practise makes perfect as they say, so when your little one understands how a clock works, set them manageable problems to solve on a regular bases. Get them to show you what 2.30 looks like on their training clock then move onto harder numbers like 20 past, 20 to and so on. Drawing clock faces and different times is also a great way to get to grips with time-telling; whiteboards work especially well for this. Buy your little one a fun watch and ask them to keep an eye out for different times during the day to get them used to looking at clock faces on a regular basis. If your child is really struggling, there are also some really great apps available to aid your teaching.