Telling the time is a basic life skill that all children need to learn. Being able to manage your own time is an important part of independent living. But for many children, learning to tell the time is a challenge. It can be especially difficult for those with learning difficulties.
Time is taught in Primary School as part of the Maths curriculum, but many children move on to teenage years and beyond, still confused about time. Why is it difficult? Several issues spring to mind…
Digital vs Analogue – in our increasingly digital age, children are used to seeing digital clocks. They can easily read the time from a digital clock by simply reading the numbers. But it’s hard to develop an understanding of time in this way.
Analogue clocks provide a better visual representation of time passing, but children find them hard to read. They usually show the hour numbers from 1 to 12 and have two or three hands. To read the time from the clock, the child has to identify the short hour hand, the long minute hand and learn to ignore the second hand.
They next have to learn what the hands are pointing to. The hour hand is pointing to the hour numbers. But in reality, most of the time, the hour hand is pointing to the space between two hour numbers – so which one does the child read? Then there is the question of the minute hand. What is this pointing to? Many children think it’s also pointing to the hour numbers – but it’s not. It’s pointing to a separate scale of 0-60 minutes, all the way round the clock. The tricky part is that most clocks don’t show this scale, so it has to be learned and remembered. This takes quite a bit of doing for a young child!
Help is at hand from EasyRead Time Teacher. They make a range of clocks, watches and teaching aids that are specially designed to help children learn to tell the time. Their simple step by step teaching system is a really visual solution to the problem.
Here are some tips to help your child with learning to tell the time at home.
Make sure you’ve got an analogue clock. Put it in a room that you use all the time, like the kitchen. Choose a clock with clear, easy to read numbers on the face and an obvious size difference between the hour and minute hands. Position the clock low down, where your child can easily see it.
Talk about time in your everyday activities, so your child learns how we express the time, e.g. ‘It’s half past twelve now, so soon we’ll be having lunch’. Use your clock and point to the time each time you mention it.
Buy your school child an analogue watch with clear, easy to read numbers on the face. Wearing a watch can help your child start to take responsibility for managing their own time. They won’t forget their first watch - I can still remember the pride of wearing mine!
Written by: Sue Shackleton, Director of EasyRead Time Teacher Ltd