Teaching Your Child to Read an Analog Clock: What’s Good to Know

Every child has their own “relationship” with time and clocks. A boy who’s doing great throughout elementary school can make simple but funny mistakes trying to tell time on an analog clock. And there are the surprised parents of the five-year-old who gracefully orients herself in time without any education. The specialists, of course, can explain the reasons for each case. However it would be good for us to understand the key principles so we could successfully teach the kids to tell time on the clock.

As a curious modern parent you won’t have any hard time finding various methods and techniques of teaching preschoolers how to read a clock. Educational app developers can offer you a wide choice of solutions, and that is where the fun comes in! Exploring and finding out the most useful product for your child. We believe that in order to make the right decision, let’s educate ourselves in getting a solid understanding on when and how you should teach your child about telling time.

The Basic Teaching Sequence

It happens from time to time, an attempt to explain something fairly simple leads to an overwhelming disappointment in your teaching skills. Not every parent is lucky to know of the order in “feeding” the information about clocks and time to their child. That is why we are here. Below you can find a rather general but helpful teaching plan proved to be useful to majority of educators and parents:

1. Explanation of seasons, times of the day and the cyclic nature of their alternation; explanation of “yesterday”, “today”, and “tomorrow” categories.
2. Introduction to clock, clock face, clock hands, their movement and difference in their speed. Associative understanding of second, minute and hour duration.
3. Hour hand study. Telling an hour, telling half an hour.
4. Minute hand study: minute marks on clock face, telling the precise time.
5. Time idioms (quarter to, half past, etc.)

It is your decision to choose the proper teaching approach but it is important to pay attention to the sequence of relaying the information. We highly suggest to always make sure that the knowledge from the passed stage is firmly acquired before moving on to the next step. Keep in mind that your child is unique and the amount of time spent learning will vary with other children. Keep note of how much time your child spent mastering a certain part.
Before you do start teaching your child to read a clock, help the child to be able to count up to 12. You will find that the skill of counting by five is extremely useful. Try to orient your child’s attention to the fact that if they skip count by five there will always be either 0 or 5 and the last position. In such case it will be quite easy to count up to 60.

Be aware that an attempt to simultaneously teach your kind to understand or count the numbers and tell the time on analog clock will eventually lead to a complete failure; be patient and take a break when needed. (Remember that a child’s attention span is only as much as their age.)

When is it time to learn time?

There is a widely spread belief that age between year 5 and 6 is the right period for taking actions, and stalling for time is not a good idea. A late start of learning may result in a more difficult process.

If you study the experience – both positive and negative – of other parents, you might conclude that the idea of teaching kids about time as early as possible is not that bad.  This is referring to the perception or the idea of time, and not about the actual ability to tell time on a clock.

All you might need is just a slight correction of your speaking habits and a bit of decoration. First, put a big analog clock with clear and readable digits on the wall of the room(s) where our child spends most of their time. Second, when you speak, try to mention time more often than you usually do. Augment words like ‘soon’ or ‘later’ with clarifying mention of the exact time or duration (“granny will come very soon, in 10 minutes”, “daddy will get back very late, around 11 p.m.”). Pay attention to the way you demonstrate to your child the relation between the time you mention and the clock hand positions.

Consider developing a habit of thinking out loud about your days plan where your child can hear you, (“I will be done with laundry in an hour, at 10, then I will be cleaning up for half an hour, and at 11:30 we will have guests…”). It is okay if your child cannot fully understand what you are talking about because the important point here is that you are giving them a chance to think of time and the ability to figure it out with their own abilities as well.

Motivation Matters

Finding motivation can be difficult but it is not impossible. We support the mention of importance of the parents attention; we suggest our parents to carefully observe their child’s behavior and to be ready to change the environment if necessary. For example, if majority of the clocks you own are digital, your child may not show any interest in telling the time.

It is crucial to catch the moment when your kid expresses an interest. For instance, when the child points to the clock or asks about it, bring the clock down so they can touch and study it. If your child asks to get a wrist watch as a present or while you are out shopping, take that opportunity to educate your child about time.

The Use of Mobile Apps

Here at CRAYON BOX, we have gathered the experiences of teachers and parents around the world to help us in making this app. “Charlie Jumped out of the Clock”is a beautifully illustrated story with integrated educational content. The original written story tells about Charlie the cogwheel who got tired of turning itself inside the old clock and one day decides to jump out to watch grumpy grandpa go about his strictly scheduled daily chores.

Parents can use the map to quickly jump to the part their child needs improvement on. The key definitions related to clock and time are explained with professional narration and augmented with high-quality animations. As an alternative to the DIY cardboard clocks you might be advised to make, we have created and added a special “practice” mode where your child can play freely with the old grandpa’s clock.

We believe that “Charlie Jumped out of the Clock” is a great educational story book and will be the perfect addition to your collection of teaching materials.

Happy learning!

Download the ‘Charlie Jumped out of the Clock’ app.

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Get the free light version here.

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