View Full Version : Telling the time

25-05-2015, 10:19 AM
At what age would you usually expect a child to be able to tell the time and have a concept of time? Are there any good ways to teach them how to do so?

25-05-2015, 11:05 AM
DD is six and has been able to tell the time on a 12 hour clock for a while - she has to think about a 24 hour clock but can work it out.
'Telling the time' and the 'concept of time' are two very different things.

With telling the time you usually start with o'clock times - making them on a toy clock and getting the child to tell you the time and then swapping roles. Also, asking the child to make times "Can you make your clock say 5 o'clock?' When they are secure with that move on to 'half past' times. It is always a good idea to make clocks so that they are familiar with where the numbers are and the size of the hands etc. You need to make sure that they have a concept of 'half' - can they fold different shapes of paper in half? Can they cut a rectangular sandwich in half/round pizza/triangular samosa etc. When you are making clocks you could use card and glue, or magnetic numbers or a whiteboard and pen. If you look on 'Sparklebox' there are some nice resources - Lotto etc.

The best way to develop a concept of time is to talk about it constantly - "Mummy will be here in one hour", "The food has been in the oven for 40 minutes, it should be cooked". Using a timer for tidy up time, teeth brushing time etc is great too.

25-05-2015, 11:17 AM
Concept of time is the important learning for our age group, understanding later, soon tomorrow etc....
It starts in communication and language way before it becomes mathematical.

After/during the language and understanding acquisition I find always talking about what you are going to do or have done helps, recall, chatting at breakfast about yesterday or at lunch about what we have done, going to do etc...

Little activities with timers and loose parts , putting something Into a container before the bubbles run out, saying that didn't take long, you were quick/quicker.
I talk about actual time too - we are going out in the garden at 9.15, so you have 30 minutes to play indoors first. Stopping an activity in 10 mins then 5 mins to go etc...
Chattertots starts at 10. I expect if you have school runs then there is lots of talk around time.
Time pieces, on the computer, clocks, phone, oven and using them in everyday life. I have a watch on, often if I don't I ask DH what time is it? They love him to answer that question for some reason!! He changes his straps and watches so they clock that when they arrive. I have a kiddie clock which I use when I expect older child to rest when others are sleeping - he knows when colour changes he will be able to play with all the toys again ( he looks at books and listens to stories or colours or plays with quiet puzzles) .

We live in a difficult time for children and learning to tell the time - people no longer wear watches as a matter of course, relying on phones, analogue clocks are rare in the digital world. Digital clocks are everywhere in the home but are big numbers - traditionally children learn't around 6,7,8 with a timex coloured watch with quarter past and half past and o clock- I never see children with them on now - they are more likely to have mobile phones and timers.
I have a wooden clock jigsaw all love to put the numbers in and it's great for shape and number recognition up to 12 - but they won't tell the time from it like my boys did as it's just about the only face clock in the house ! I do have an RSPB one in the den that sings different bird song on the hour, they say "it's blue tit time " - which they associate with lunch time at 12 - not telling the time, but being aware of a passing of time and a specific time - I always add its 12 o clock - but they never seem to remember that ....