Teaching your children the time

Tutorial -

Teaching your children the time

of reading - words

As adults, there are many skills that we take for granted, but the truth is that we have had to acquire them through hard work and perseverance. The example par excellence is, of course, reading the time! As adults, we rarely think about the mental pirouettes needed to read and express the time on a traditional clock, but that changes when you have children. We will explain everything you need to know to teach your children how to read a clock while helping them get a good start in their education and independence.

What is the ideal age to learn the time?

As a child's brain develops, their neural connections become better equipped to understand concepts that were once too advanced for them. For example, the idea of the permanence of objects (and the end of the fascination with the cuckoo clock!) or understanding the reality of dangers and consequences are intellectual growths that we acquire with age. The same goes for the knowledge of time.

So, how old should your children be before you teach them to read the time?

There are a few key ages at which you should teach your child the concept of time - but remember that it is a gradual process:

5-6 years old:

  • Children should be able to read the hours and half hours on an analog clock, and draw the corresponding hours.

6-7 years old :

  • Children should know the number of minutes in an hour and the number of hours in a day.
  • Children should be able to say/draw the time in five minute increments,
  • Children should be able to understand the concepts of quarter to quarter past

7-8 years old :

  • Children should be able to read an analog clock, using 12-hour clocks, 24-hour clocks and Roman numerals (I-XII).
  • Children should be able to compare the time (by hours, minutes and even seconds).
  • Children should be comfortable with time-specific vocabulary (hour, morning, afternoon, noon and midnight). 

Teach children to read and express time

Before a child can read the time, he or she must understand the basics of reading the time. Follow the processes below to make sure your children have the basic knowledge to read a clock:

1) Practice counting to 60

Before being able to run, the child must walk. Likewise, before he can read the time, he must know all his numbers up to 60, comfortably. Help him learn by having him read the numbers on a chart, write them down and recite them from memory.

2) Practice counting in fives

Once your child has learned to count to 60, teach him or her to count to 60 by five. Your child will have mastered this when he or she can recite and write from memory from 0 to 60.

3) Introduce your child to the concept of time

Time is in a rather radical process (which took humans a few thousand years to understand and record it).

To teach your children how to master it, start by introducing them to the concepts of morning, noon, evening and night.

Next, ask your child when certain activities in your daily life take place (e.g., "When do we eat breakfast?"). "or "What do we do in the morning").

Once your child can understand these divisions of the day, he or she is on the right track to understanding time!

4) Make a model clock together

Take a paper plate and enthusiastically say to your child: "Today we make our own clocks!". Keep an analog clock next to you to use as a reference. You can read our article on how to make a homemade clock for this.

Be sure to focus on the important markers (12, 3, 6, 9) as well as the hour and minute hands during construction.

Then try some simple examples of setting and indicating the hours. For your child to have fun, take turns setting and answering (don't be afraid to be wrong a few times to show them that they can make mistakes).

5) Relate time to their daily routine

As your child learns to know the time, you need to continue to connect time to their daily routine while going further and further. For example, ask them what time school ends and then ask them to show you the corresponding time on the model clock. Try to do this several times a day (with different examples).

  • Start with the hour hand: This is the easiest of the two hands to grasp, so teach them how to use the clock's hour hand so they can make the connection between the numbers and the times of day. Show them how to read the hour hand with examples ("I see the hour hand points to _, so I know it's _ time!") Then, when they begin to understand, ask them to show you some of the times on the clock.
  • Then switch to the minute hand : The minute hand is harder for children to understand. Explain to your children that since there are 60 minutes in an hour, 1 means 5 and 9 means 45. This can be extremely frustrating for most children who like to think math is black and white, so please help them understand and be patient. Show them how to read the minute hand ("I see that the minute hand points to x, so I know it's _:x*5 o'clock!") If your child is really struggling, simply draw the number of minutes around the clock and ask them to use it as a reference.

Remember that telling the time is a pretty difficult process and it will take your child a while.

As your child gains confidence, encourage him/her and continue to practice regularly with him/her. If they make mistakes, just set a good example and try again.

Remember that all good things take time :)

Children's clocks

There are many clocks, but not all of them are suitable for your children's room. His room is his universe, he must find his way there. Adding a clock that he will enjoy looking at and reading is essential as he grows up. If your child loves unicorns it is interesting to install a unicorn clock, reading the time will no longer be a chore but a pleasure!