Specialists agree that before your child learns to read the hands on a clock, he should have a basic understanding of time and how we manage it.
“The concept of past & future is a beginning sense of time for children,” says expert. “Many children use the terms yesterday to refer to events that have taken place in the past & tomorrow for events that will take place in the future. Most of the children do not use these terms correctly until kindergarten.”
To help your child understand the notion of the time, you can begin at a young age to illustrate it’s measurement tools.
Make a list of favorite activities and then place them in the appropriate category: one second, one minute, or one hour.
Compare lengths of the time to driving distances: “We will stay at the party for one hour. That’s about as long as it takes us to drive to the zoo.”
Makes a chart with daily schedules: “At noon we will have lunch. At 3:00 we’ll leave for baseball practice.”
Challenges your child to pick up his room within a certain amount of time. Get’s him thinking about time by asking him how many minutes he needs to get the blocks on the shelf. “Could you fold all the shirts & put them in the drawer in ten seconds?”
Makes paper chains to count down the days until an upcoming vacation or holiday. Try to remove the link at the same time each day to illustrates the notion of a 24 hour day.
Watches are fun for kids & can be a great way to get them excited about time. But what about the notion that kids should not own a digital watch until they can read a traditional clock first?
“Learn how to read a digital clock first is fine,” insists expert. “It makes sense for a child to understand the numerical way to write 3:30 before she learns how the hands on a clock can show the same thing.”
Consider introducing the clock by relating it to your daily schedules. When a big hand touches the 6, we will be leaving for dance class. Many parents find success by taking a photo of the clock showing various times, labeled with what the family will be doing at that time. Tape these pictures on a wall next to the clock.
Most of the teachers agree that when you’re ready to work on reading clock faces with your child, it helps if she can skip count by fives. Starting with the o’clock and going to half-past, seems to be the way to go.