24 March 2007

Time to tell the Time!

It’s time again for the clocks to change, British Summer Time (BST) starts tomorrow, the 25th March 2007 so the clocks need to go forward an hour at some point in the early hours. I'm sure there is an official time for this to happen but I'm not staying awake until the designated hour so will change mine before bed!

Summer causes havoc for lots of young children because they use the light=day dark=night message they learnt as babies and start to wake up early and try to stay up late. If you have a toddler, you might want to start helping them to understand the concept of time and how to actually tell the time to explain that bedtime is not just when it’s dark!

The official guidelines for learning to tell the time are part of the National Numeracy Strategy with the following targets:
  • Reception class children (ages 4-5) should be beginning to read the time to the hour
  • Year 1 children (age 5-6) should be able to read the time to the hour or the half hour on analogue clocks
  • Year 2 children (age 6-7) should be able to read the time to the hour, half hour or quarter hour on analogue clocks
However, as with a lot of learning there is no right or wrong time to start teaching your child about time, it is a concept that is learnt gradually with practice over time, so start when you think they are ready.

To start teaching children the time it is important to get them familiar with clocks. Look at clocks and point out the hands, the big hour hand and the small minute hand. Spot clocks for example, church / town clocks, watches and alarm clocks. Have fun listening to the tick tock of clocks and watches. Then start to point out the times that set activities happen, for example “it’s six o’clock look the big hand is pointing to the twelve and the little hand is pointing to the six now it’s bath time”, eventually children will match the verbal / the visual clock and the activity and start to learn to tell the time for themselves.

A fun activity for younger children is to make a pretend clock. Use a paper plate or a circle of card to make the clock face. Write on the numbers (the easiest way to space them evenly is to do the 12, 3, 6 and 9 first and then fill the gaps). Make some hands to turn using some card (don’t forget the minute hand is longer than the hour hand) and attach them with a paper fastener. You can use your ‘clock’ to show events as well as hours for example drawing symbols for dinnertime, bath time, bedtime next to the correct hours.

Older children who are starting to learn the value of time might like to play timed games for example seeing how much of a picture can be drawn, how many words they can write or how many toys picked up in a fixed time. This is also a good task for children who need to practice staying focussed on an activity or who need speeding up (can they get dressed faster today than yesterday)! You can also use a timer to signal the end of activities such as five minutes more bath time, ten minutes more in the garden or watching television.

There are lots of resources available at Littlesheep Learning to help children tell the time, for example, teaching clocks with moveable hands, clock faces to draw on your own hands, games including Time Snap and books for example ‘Telling the Time’, a popular Usborne book which features the favourite Farmyard Tale characters.

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