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How To Teach Kids To Tell Time

Apr 23, 2021

Having kids in the house is fun but raising them is no easy task. Everything that you know as basic and common is brand new fascinating territory for them. Take ‘time’ for example, such an ordinary concept for adults. But for kids, it’s something novel and fresh. After you’ve completed the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, vegetables, etc., would be a good time to teach kids to tell time. But how do you get started on this learning? Let’s find out.

Concept of Time

Before introducing them to clocks and hands, you should familiarise them with what time is in the first place. Start with small things like bedtime, dinner time, bath time, etc. Then move on to helping them know what morning, afternoon, evening, and night are. Once they get a hold of the parts of the day, it will be easy to break down ‘time’ for them.

Clock Face

Draw a simple clock face on craft paper with the hour and minute hands being movable (you can use ice cream sticks!). Next to every number you could write or stick a small sticker of what is the activity done at that time of the day. For example, if your child wakes up at 9 am, has a shower at 10 am, and lunch at 1 pm, you could put images of the sun, shower, and lunch against 9, 10, and 11 on the clock, respectively. Fill up the 12 numbers with activity icons. Keep moving the hands on the clock face when you’ll are performing those activities. Keep reminding them that the smaller hand tells you the hour. This way, the child will begin to get the hang of the hour hand on the clock.

Minute Hand

Now, on the same clock face, you’ve got to try and help them understand what the minute hand does. You can start with a quarter past and a half past. You move the minute hand to 3, 6, and 9 on the clock and explain that concerning the hour, it’s quarter past, half past, and quarter to. Another option while you teach kids to tell time is to teach them the multiplication table of 5. Eventually, they will understand what the minute hand means when it falls on the other numbers.

Songs and Videos

Classic nursery rhymes like Hickory Dickory Dock have gone a long way in introducing time to kids. Today, there are many sing-along videos available online that will help you teach your kids about time. Time is a tricky concept for children to grasp, so be patient with them. Music helps children grasp things quickly, so rhymes that have lyrics about time, and dance-along videos that revolve around time will help the kids remember what you taught them better.

Activity Games

You can bring back the clock face but this time the child will have to move the hands on the clock based on questions asked to them. You could ask them questions like when is dinnertime or when is playtime, and they will have to move the hands of the clock to answer correctly. Or you could say “the queen of Sheeba says it’s 2:20”, and they will have to figure out how to place the clock hands so that it reads 2:20 pm. This is also a great way to teach kids to tell time.

Understanding time and being able to tell it is something that happens gradually with kids. For the most part, they will be confused and ask you a whole lot of questions. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Slowly and steadily, with a lot of fun activities and constant learning, they’ll be pros at telling time.


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