Age by-age guide to the best educational apps for kids
Teaching Children How to Tell the Time: Hints and Tips - Photo: Parentcircle

Teaching Children How to Tell the Time: Hints and Tips

Learning how to tell the time can be a tricky business so we’ve pulled together some hints and tips on how you can support your child to learn this essential skill.

For the first time in England, teaching children how to tell the time has been included within the latest Maths National Curriculum (2014) under the objectives of measures.

So, to make this crazy concept make some sense it needs to be brought into everyday life. As we know, children learn best when they’re having fun so anything you can do to incorporate time into everyday activities that your child enjoys will make the process much easier – introduce one concept at a time, use a mix of resources and a variety of fun techniques to keep things interesting.

Break it down

Before jumping into the details of a clock face, start with the general concept of time – morning, afternoon, evening. Initially talk about activities that happen at certain times of day e.g. “we eat breakfast in the morning” and “we go to sleep at night”.

You can then move on to asking your child when certain things happen – this starts off the idea of blocking time into sections. Why not incorporate story books with a time theme into your bed-time routine too.

Get to grips with time duration

To kick start your child’s understanding of the passage and tracking of time, make a habit of pointing out how long things take in everyday life such as cleaning your teeth, eating breakfast or how long until you need to leave the house.

You could make a point of timing some of your child’s favourite activities to help them connect more with the passage of time – do some baking together and set the oven timer, announce that their programme will be on the TV in 10 minutes and set an alarm or stopwatch.

Reading clock-faces – don’t jump in with digital

Age by-age guide to the best educational apps for kids

We’re surrounded by digital clocks everywhere these days – on mobiles, computers, TVs, alarm clocks, but it’s actually easier to learn how to tell the time with an analogue clock rather than a digital one.

Analogue clocks lend themselves to the better understanding of time because of the constantly moving hands. The visual impact of the clock face also makes comprehension easier i.e. seeing the sections of the clock and matching this to counting in 5 minute intervals, according to

Top Tip: If your child has a digital clock in their room, it may be worth considering changing it for a traditional clock face. Perhaps you could let them pick a new watch as an opportunity for them to engage with their new challenge!

Here’s how you can start practising…

Start making a habit of pointing out the time on a clock when events happen in your day, to introduce what that time looks like. Move on to asking your child to tell you what a certain time looks like: “What will the clock look like at 1 o’clock” (or more tricky “in 15 minutes”) or “when it’s time to play?”.

Once these basics are established, let your children remind you when it is time to do something… You may well find that they will pick this up especially easily if it’s something they’re really looking forward to, perhaps not so quickly if you’ve asked to be reminded when it’s time for bed!

How Do You Teach a Child to Tell the Time?

Teaching your kids about the hours in a day and the passage of time might seem like a complicated thing to explain. Fortunately, there are plenty of tell time activities that can make it fun! Once your children know their numbers from zero to sixty, they’ll be ready for some games.

1. Match the Easter Eggs to Tell Time

Age by-age guide to the best educational apps for kids

Play this game by purchasing some plastic Easter eggs. Write the digital time on the top half of the egg and text like "quarter past eight" on the bottom half. This will help children understand how to talk about time so they can go from there! Share your matching game ideas with other parents on FamilyApp!

2. Get Out the Playdough to Practice

Kids love playing with playdough, so this game will be a surefire winner when it comes to learning fun! Draw a clock face and have your kids get acquainted with the hour hand and minute hand. Give them the times and have them move the playdough hands alongside them. Your kids might even love playing this game with sidewalk chalk tell time clock!

3. Learn Reading Clocks with Mountains, Hills & Rocks

It might sound like a funny name for a game, but this will teach your kids all about elapsed time. In this game, a mountain is one hour, a hill is a half-hour and rocks are one minute. This game is good for breaking time into unitsand showing your little one that telling time is easy. There are plenty of great games for teaching time-telling to share with other parents on your favorite family app!

4. Try a Time App!

Age by-age guide to the best educational apps for kids

Technology can be a great resource when it comes to learning and studying for kids of all ages. Fortunately, it can also be great when it comes to teaching time! If your children have a tablet, they can move the clock hands and do quizzes using a tell time app. While Time Teacher is a great choice, Interactive Telling Time will help your children learn how minutes work.

5. Discover Different Kinds of Clocks

Talking about different ways of time measuring will put some extra fun into teaching and learning. Smaller children love hourglasses, for example when brushing teeth. A kitchen timer or an alarm clock helps them get the idea of time elapsing. A sundial, on the other hand, is a little harder to catch on to, but older children might be fascinated by the concept.

6. Go On Clock Discovery Tour

Sometimes it's hard to impart the importance of telling time to your children. To encourage your kids, add some extra fun on your next stroll. Let them discover all the different clocks in town. You can also take pictures and recollect your path and the passing-by of the minutes and hours.

7. Use Printable Time Worksheets to Tell Time

Age by-age guide to the best educational apps for kids

Sometimes the oldest method is the easiest method, and it’s no different when it comes to learning time! The best practice is repetition, and printable time worksheets that help to learn will give your children just that. By the time they get to the second page of their tell time worksheets, they’ll be an analog pro! Ask a teacher you're on friendly terms with about a template or check some online resources to download clock worksheets, cites

Learning numbers is a part of the process of getting older and understanding more about the world. And, even in this digital age, telling time and understanding clocks is an important part of knowing how things work. Do you have more tips for teaching your kids to tell time? Share them with other parents in our comments. There’s a different solution for every kid, but knowing the numbers is the best place to begin!
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