Since the day a child starts going to school, she has to begin following a schedule. There is a time to get up, get ready, leave the home to catch the bus and so on. Therefore, it becomes necessary to teach her the concept of time. As she grows up, she will also learn how to manage her time and be up-to-date, or even, ahead of schedule.
With time being such a critical concept to teach, let’s look at some easy ways to teach about time to your child.
1. Introduce the concept: Start teaching your child about time by first introducing him to the broad concept. Tell him about morning, noon, evening and night. Incorporate these terms when you speak about doing any activity. For example, when you plan with your child to go to the park, you may say, “We will go to the park in the evening.”
2. Announce time: Once your child is familiar with the broader concept of time, narrow it down and start pointing out the specific time when you will do a task. For this, use a digital watch. Before starting an activity, point to the time on the watch and announce it. When you end the activity, point to the watch and announce the time again. After that, count in increments of 5 and tell your child how much time it took to do the task. This will help your child get used to the fact that every activity starts at some specific time, goes on for some time, and then ends at a specific time.
3. Draw a clock: Show your child your old wall clock. Explain to her what the three hands of the clock are for and the marks that represent the different hours and seconds. Tell her that between the two marks of an hour there are 4 marks, each representing 1 second. After you have done that, ask your child to draw the clock on a sheet of paper or on a round paper plate.
4. Make a clock: Get your child a DIY kit to make a toy clock. There are LEGO kits available as well for this purpose. In case you don’t find one, you can draw a dial and the three hands on chart paper. Cut these and give them to your child to assemble together and make a clock.
5. Use a digital clock: By the time your child is a preschooler, he would have learnt to count and recognise a few numbers. Get a digital clock and keep it in a place from where it is clearly visible to him. Ask him to look at the clock after he gets up in the morning and tell the time. Make it a point to remind him to look at the clock and tell the time before each task he does. For example, ask him to tell the time before he goes for his bath, sits at the dining table to have breakfast, leaves the house to catch the bus for school, when he goes to bed at night and so on. This will help him understand the time when he has to do a specific task.
6. Use worksheets: Various types of worksheets are available on the Internet to teach time to preschoolers. Browse and download the one that suits your child’s intelligence level the best. Ask her to mark the time on these sheets whenever she does any activity. For example, you can ask her to mark the time when she came back home from school or went out to play in the park.
Although we have listed only six ways to teach time, you can come up with your own innovations. Remember, understanding time takes time. But, once your child understands the concept, with practice, he may even be able to tell the time without looking at the clock. So, go ahead and practise the concept with your child.