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Kids Don't Know How To Read Clocks; Here's What You Can Do To Help

by Timothy Bailey on September 02, 2020

Schools in the UK have even begun replacing analog clocks with digital clocks as a result!  In an increasingly digital age, it’s understandable to think the skill is outdated, but all children will inevitably be faced with the real life task of reading an analog clock, and it is imperative that they know how. 

How to teach time:

Reading a clock is a completely new concept for many children, and thus it should be an incremental learning process over several months or a year. Here is a general guide of what understanding of time your child should have depending on their age:
  • Age 5-6:
    Children should be able to read the hour and half hour markers and draw the corresponding times as well.
  • Age 6-7:
    Children should know the number of minutes in an hour and the number of hours in a day.
    Children should be able to tell / draw time in five minute increments,
    Children should be able to comprehend quarter to / quarter past concepts
  • Age 7-8:
    Children should be able to read an analog clock using number and Roman Numerals
    Children should be comfortable using time-specific vocabulary (o’clock, a.m./p.m., morning, afternoon, noon and midnight).

Start With Counting:

Make sure your child knows how to count to 60 by 1s and 5s. 
Introduce Your Child to the Concept of Time - Start by teaching the ideas of morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night time. Get them comfortable with these ideas by associating each concept with certain activities. Then quiz your kid by asking them when certain things happen (i.e. "When do we eat breakfast?" or "What do we do in the morning?")
Make a Model Clock Together: Using paper plates and arrows cut from paper, create a model clock that you can easily adjust to tell different times. Keep an analog clock next to you, to use for reference. Here is a good resource on how to make a model clock. Be sure to focus on the important markers (12, 3, 6, 9), as well as the Hour Hand and Minute Hand during construction.
Begin With the Hour Hand: As the easier of the two hands to grasp, start teaching your child how to use the hour hand of the clock. Model how to read the hour hand (i.e. "I see the hour hand is pointing to _, so I know it is _ o'clock!"). Then, as they start to pick it up, ask them to show you certain times on the clock.
 Next, Teach the Minute Hand: The minute hand is harder for children to grasp. Explain to your kids that since there are 60 minutes in an hour, they need to multiply the number the minute hand points to by 5. If your child is really struggling, just draw the number of minutes around the model clock and have them use that as a reference.
Remember, telling time is quite a difficult process and it will take your child some time.
‍Most importantly, though, learning something new is easiest when it’s fun and weaved into everyday life. That’s where Turnt Watches comes in. Kids love our fun, colorful designs, and if they wear an analog watch, they will be able to practice reading the time throughout the day. Check out our products here and help “save” time!
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