As adults, I think we take the ability to tell time for granted. However, it is not a trivial skill. There are lots of steps involved in correctly being able to even read the time, let alone understand what that means.
Interpreting the time in order to really understand what it means can be very hard for kids. When I was young, my kid sister used to analyze time based on increments of her favorite shows and movies. “Okay, so about as long as one Little Mermaid, then one episode of Rugrats?”
One time my three year old asked when it would be morning and his dad told him when the sun comes up. He replied in a sassy, disappointed tone, “Uuuuggggh! That’s so many days!!!”
Miraculously, after repeated exposure, my kids are gradually getting the concept of telling time without me having to do a lot of work. It’s a slow process, but at least it’s not painful. My 4th grader is currently very good at telling time and even understands what it means. My second grader can go through the motions slowly, but I’m not sure she’s really internalized the concept of time increments yet.
Here are some other resources for helping kids learn to tell time that our family has used:
- We have a Learning Resources teaching clock that has been indispensable in helping my kids learn how to tell time. Anytime they do a math problem having to do with an analog clock, we use it to make the problem more hands-on and relevant.
- Though not necessary, it is helpful to have a real analog clock to show a child as well. It isn’t easy for them to adjust the time, but it makes a great demonstration of how the two hands move simultaneously as you turn the knob on the back.
- We also have a Zingo Time Telling game. I don’t think this was crucial in my kids learning to tell time, but it is a fun way to reinforce learning. I probably would not spend my own money to get this, but since I was able to purchase it with charter school funds, it is nice to have.
Click here for more Math activities for kids.