How Kids Can Learn the Concept—and Value—of Time

WRITTEN BY Eloy Valverde May 03, 2022

As an adult, your day revolves around the clock. For young children, telling time is something they don’t realize or think about as they go about their day-to-day lives. Because of the significant role time has in our lives, it is crucial for kids to learn the concept and value of time when they are young to establish healthy habits, daily routines, and success.

You can begin teaching children as early as preschool, but the best time to start is between the first and second grade years. Starting sooner rather than later helps the child grasp the concept and develop skills that will help them better understand the entire notion that is time. Because a child’s brain is not fully developed yet, you must remain patient and calm throughout the process and never make the child feel incompetent over mistakes.

Introduce the Concept of Time

An easy way to introduce time to your kids is through waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. Once they realize that the sun shines bright in the morning to wake you up and disappears at night to put you to sleep, they can better understand the other parts of the day. Explain to them specific aspects of their already-daily routine and how it correlates to the time on the clock.

To further the introduction of time, describe segments of your days with “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” and “now.” Using these words helps the child learn what time describes and how to put events in chronological order. The first step should always be simple, and you shouldn’t try to teach too much.

Associate Routines With Time

Once the kid knows what time is, you can start implementing elements of their daily routine concerning the clock on the wall. Your child should already be on a schedule, so you can point out what each time means for each task when they begin their routine. This part of the teaching helps the child get used to when portions of their day start and stop.

At this point in your child’s life, a deadline will not mean much, but getting a grasp of time and its value will set your child up for later success. Never punish your child for not meeting a specific time frame when completing tasks; this learning point is for associating time with what they usually do in their day.

Incorporate Time Vocabulary

After introducing time, you can now implement vocabulary with some practice and conversations to let the concept sink in. Your child should be familiar with what hours and minutes mean and what hand on the clock they go with. Start your teaching on an analog clock first to better understand the workings and avoid future obstacles.

For example, you want your child to understand what “We are going to the store in 10 minutes” means. Always be flexible in your teachings and look for opportunities throughout the day where you can explain time to your child.

Create a Fake Clock

Now that your child is familiar with time, you can begin making a “dummy” clock they can use for a visual representation. When they make specific daily routines habits, incorporate reading the time and placing the clock hands on the correct numbers for a hands-on experience. Practicing the motion of the clock hands helps better the kid’s understanding of minutes and hours and can be a fun activity for you to do together.

Start With Teaching Hours

Now that the fundamentals are there, you can begin teaching what an hour means. For your child to understand hours, they should be able to count to 12. Breaking the clock down into hours is easier for your child to retain than starting with minutes.

With the clock, you just made print pictures that correlate with their routine and place them on the hours they would happen throughout the day. The images are a great visual representation of when habits occur in conjunction with the clock, which also helps develop their daily routine.

Follow Up With Teaching Minutes

After some practice, your child is ready to understand what the minutes mean on a clock. At this point, they will need to be able to count to 60. Identifying increments of time will be more simple with a background of knowledge and make the experience less frustrating for them.

If your child needs more help in grasping time, you can read books or watch kid-friendly videos that make learning the value of time fun. You can now tell them they have five minutes to clean up their toys in the living room. Afterward, head over to the made-up clock and talk about how that changed the clock’s look and where the hands are now facing.

Incorporate Fun Activities

Now that the basics are down, kids can start playing and having fun with reading time. If you are teaching more than one child, you can race to see who gets the correct time the fastest and make a competition out of it. Other activities are creating a daily routine in relation to the clock, drawing a clock from memory, and placing pictures of habits next to the time of day they should happen.

Don’t Forget the Calendar

A clock is not the only place that tells time; a calendar does too. Once your child masters the art of reading time, you can begin explaining what a day, month, or year is. Albeit reading a clock is more important, teaching how to read a calendar should follow suit for the best education in the value of time.

Gift Them a Timekeeping Device

As a graduation present, you can gift your child their very own clock and calendar for their bedroom or go bigger with a kids’ 4G smartwatch. Giving a small gift like this prolongs their learning excitement and encourages them to apply everything they learned to their daily routine. Once the introduction takes place, continue to cultivate conversations revolving around time to answer any unasked questions.

Kids learning the concept and value of time is no easy task and requires a lot of patience and understanding on the parent’s end. However, encouraging the child to learn and develop their skills is one of the best things you can do for them. Keeping time is a vital aspect of adult life and should be taught at a young age so that children have the time to grasp the concepts.

How Kids Can Learn the Concept—and Value—of Time

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