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Teaching Your Child to Tell the Time

Telling the time is an important life skill that all children need to master. You can teach your child to tell the time from a young age by talking about routines that are carried out at different times of day. 

Parents need to help their children to tell the time, as the maths curriculum in school doesn’t always allow for enough teaching of this essential skill.

Here are some simple suggestions for teaching your child how to tell the time:

  1. Firstly, introduce your child to different methods which can be used to measure the passage of time such as a watch, stop clock, 2 Minute Sand Timer , digital and Analogue Clock . Set them small challenges to be done within different time frames, such as completing a jigsaw in three minutes or perhaps counting how many skips they can do in two minutes. This will help them to develop an understanding of the passage of time.

  2. Talk to your child about the passage of time during the day, by mentioning routines such as ‘It’s eight o’clock time to get ready for bed’ or ‘It’s six o’clock time for dinner’. This will help your child to recognise various o’clock times and develop an understanding of the position of the minute and hour hands.

  3. Explain the features on a Tell The Time Clock. A Jigsaw Clock is also useful and fun for your child as it will also allow them to order the numbers from one to twelve and explore the movement of the hour and minute hand.

  4. Have a simple 'Tick Tock' Wall Clock in your child’s bedroom, which has numbers clearly marked and markers for each minute, so your child understands that there are five minutes between each number.

  5. Start by explain to your child that the short hand shows the hour and the long hand shows the minutes.

  6. Explain that there are sixty minutes in an hour- move the minute hand and count in five’s to sixty. Explain that each time the minute hand moves around the clock once, an hour has passed, and the hour hand will then move to the next numeral.

  7. Turn the hour and minute hand so they show twelve o’clock. Turn the minute hand once around and explain that an hour has passed so it is now one o’clock. Continue explaining and demonstrating other o’clock times. If your child grasps this fairly easily, ask them to show you different o’clock times and talk about what you do at that time during the day.

  8. Next move on to teaching half past time, by explaining that when the minute hand has passed half way around the clock it is ‘half past’ the hour. Practise various o’clock and half past times together, and link these to your child’s daily routine. For example, ‘It’s half past three, that’s when I collect you from school’. This will make learning to tell the time more relevant to your child’s everyday life. The Let's Get Ready For School Tell The Time Book is ideal for linking time and routines.

  9. When you child is able to tell o’clock and half past time, you may want to get them their own watch such as a Timex Time Teacher Watch, as recognition of the effort they have made to learn to tell the time. This will also interest them in learning to tell the time independently.

  10. Now your child has been introduced to o’clock and half past time, practise counting in five’s to help your child tell the time at different five minute intervals. Stop at each quarter hour and emphasis ‘quarter past’ and ‘quarter to’ time.

You may find that your child learns to tell the time in a matter of days or weeks, but keep reinforcing time during your everyday routines until they are confident. By ensuring your child has their own watch and clock in their bedroom they are likely to be able to tell the time fairly quickly and before long they will be proudly be telling you the time is!

Images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net



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