Teaching kids about time

Understanding the concept of time and being taught to read time can develop some of the basic skills they will need for Maths. In their everyday conversations with their children parents tend to say things like “I will be there in a second�? or “Just give me five minutes�?. These sentences can create confusion for children if they don’t yet understand the true meaning of time.

Here are a few fun tips to use when teaching your child about time:

  1. Start with general things like “We go to school in the morning�? and “We sleep at night�? to teach them about certain times of the day;
  2. Before teaching the different numbers, make a habit of saying how long one, five or fifteen minutes takes. For example, it takes one minute to brush their teeth, but breakfast takes fifteen minutes;
  3. It is easier to explain what noon is by using lunchtime as an example. ‘Afternoon’ then makes a whole lot more sense;
  4. If your child can count up to sixty, you can start explaining the difference between a second, a minute and an hour. A kitchen timer can be a very helpful tool;
  5. There are various toys that can make a big difference in displaying the numbers with the hour and minute hands. The Tell Time Flip Chart is a great one for this. Using a regular clock without batteries that they can manipulate or one you make from paper can work just as well;
  6. If your child can multiply, it is a very good idea to teach them the five times table. This will make it much easier to understand what happens on a clock;
  7. Get a big clock, such as the Demo Clock, to explain the minute and hour hands. Keep the minute hand on 12 and move the hour hand to explain what time it is with each number;
  8. Explain that the long hand is for the minutes, move it around and explain each position to your child. They will then understand that the minute hand needs to go around the clock in order for the hour hand to move up;
  9. Begin explaining how the minutes and hours go together. Start with the easy ones, such as 10:30 and 14:15. Also explain how it is said, such as ‘half-past-ten’ and ‘quarter-past-two’; and
  10. Have your child quiz you on time telling. This will make them more confident and encourage them to practice.

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