How to learn to tell the time to your child?

Published : 09-08-2018 15:01:58
Categories : Tips & tricks

 How to learn to tell the time to your child?

Knowing how to tell time. This is a skill we've had for quite a long time, but one that our little tyke will soon have to get their head around. Children start to want to find their bearings throughout the day from the ages of 3 to 7, an age when they start to discover the big and little hand. This is also the age when they start asking for a watch, so they can be "just like grown-ups". So here's a small refresher course! What's a good method for teaching your child how to tell time and are some methods more effective than others? 

Teaching how to tell time at school 

At the age of 7, right when they start CE1, your child will start learning how to tell time. However, not everything can be taught in just one year, on the contrary! The teacher needs to further this learning in CE2 and will even revisit this notion in CM2. Most key points are nevertheless introduced in CE2. The best way to assist in understanding is to use a large clock that every child can adjust as they please. Still, learning how to tell time can't be done by just reading! The child will discover that each period in history has its own method for keeping track of the day: from the sundial to the hourglass, there are countless ways to "quantify" passing time. 

In CE1, your little tyke will discover the building blocks of a clock: the dial, the hour hand, then one for minutes and finally another for seconds. Fixed hours are in the grade 2 curriculum. It's from this moment on that children will learn that one hour equals 60 minutes and that 1 minute equals 60 seconds. Then, it's in CM1 that things get a little more complicated with "quarter past", "20 past", and "25 past". A little patience is needed for your child to know how to tell time like an expert! 

Methods for teaching how to tell time 

You will come to learn that knowing how to tell time happens in stages. There's no point in going too quickly or trying to turn your child into a clock master in a few weeks. Here's the method used in primary schools. Depending on your child's progress, feel free to go through some steps more than once! 

  • Observing the dial: the first step consists of asking your child to describe what they see on the clock. What shape is it? Where are the numbers positioned? Where are the hands? Then, name each element one by one. Make sure your child does indeed make the distinction between the hour, minute, and second hands. 
  • Observing the dial 2: now, move on to discovering the numbers that make up a clock. The dial is divided into 12 equal portions. Each part consists of a number between 1 and 12. These numbers are the biggest and the most important: these are the hours. To read each number in order, you will need to start from the top and then go down to the right. Do the same with the minutes! This time, the dial is divided into 60 parts and the indicated numbers go from 5 in increments of 5. 
  • Observing the dial 3: Now, ask your child to watch the movement of the hands. Each point in one direction. All you have to do is read the corresponding number in order to correctly tell the time. Then, each hand turns in the same way, but at different speeds! The hour hand is the slowest and the second hand is the quickest. 
  • The hour hand: Set your clock on high noon. Then move the short hour hand and ask your child to read the corresponding number. Try a few times and then ask them to set the clock themselves for 4:00, 10:00, etc...
  • The hour hand 2: Now you have to explain time before and after noon. There are 12 hours on the clock, but a day is made up of 24 hours! Therefore, the hour hand has to circle the dial twice. To explain this clearly, use a second clock, this time with 13:00 to 24:00 instead of 1:00 to 12:00. 
  • The minute hand: Now let's move to the minute hand. This hand turns more quickly and circles the dial in one hour. First problem: each minute is not indicated on the dial! Only numbers "5, 10, 15, etc..." are written. However, make sure your child understands that a clock has little markers that allow you to count the minutes, not just those in increments of 5, more easily! 
  • Practice: Redo the exercise mentioned in point 3. Then, move the minute hand first to the printed numbers going up in increments of 5. So, it's.. 3 o'clock and 20 minutes! Repeat this exercise, but this time, move the hand wherever you want. It's "4 o'clock and 20 minutes + 3 minutes, that means it's 4:23!". Finally, do the same exercise on the 24-hour clock. Once your child feels comfortable, use just one clock. 
  • The second hand: Your child already knows how to tell the hour, but they still need to completely understand the division of time. Point out the second hand and show them that one trip around the dial corresponds to one minute. Review everything your child has learned: 60 seconds correspond to 1 minute, 60 minutes to one hour, the hour hand circles the dial in 12 hours and there are 24 hours in one day! 

Tips and Tricks 

To speed up learning, here are some tips and tricks you can do at home! 

  • Ask your child what time is it throughout the day. 
  • Tell them what time it is at every important moment in the day by pointing to the dial!
  • Make a paper clock! In addition to spending some time with your child, this clock can be used throughout their training. You can even ask them to draw some silly figures depicting different phases of the day (meals, bedtime, etc...). 
  • Give your child a watch, but avoid ones with digital displays. Naturally, the latter cater more to young children and usually feature their favorite characters , but it prevents them from learning how to tell time. 

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