Teach Your Children How to Read Time: A Comprehensive Teaching Guide

As adults, we consider time a natural and inseparable part of our daily lives. But this concept often challenges children. Usually, kids need a few years to tell time accurately, let alone time estimations and predictions. This time, you will learn all about teaching time to kids.

When Do Kids Learn to Tell Time?

Children start learning to tell time between six and eight years. In this period, they learn to tell time on a clock, as well as remember days, weeks, years, etc.

However, you can teach this concept to your kid earlier if you believe they can handle it.

How to Teach Kids to Tell Time?

Teaching time concept is a complex process that consists of several stages. Let’s start with the basics below.

Children Should Learn to Tell Time on a Clock Starting with Basics: Morning, Evening, Night

You have to start with the concept of time itself, not with the time on the clock. Introduce your kid to the time of the day which is connected to their daily routines:

  • Morning. We wake up, brush our teeth, and have breakfast in the morning.
  • Afternoon. Once we have lunch, it is afternoon.
  • Evening. In the evening, the sun goes down, we have dinner, have a shower, brush our teeth, and go to sleep.
  • Night. The moon goes up, and it’s time to sleep.

Make sure your child starts telling time of the day fluently. Ask them, when do we wake up? When do we have dinner, or when do we go to sleep?

As long as your child remembers their daily schedule in the correct order and every time without hesitation, you can proceed further.

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Teach Counting to 60

You have to teach your kid to count to 60 before they learn how to tell time. You can use number lines, flashcards, math videos, songs, and other assets to practice counting to 60.

They need to know numbers from 1 to 60 to differentiate between seconds, minutes, and hours:

  • One hour is 60 minutes.
  • One minute is 60 seconds.

Teach Skip Counting by Fives

As long as your kid gets fluent in counting to 60, they have to learn to skip count. It will help them calculate time units much faster.

Skip counting means adding the same number to the previous one up to a certain point. In our case, this point is 60: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60. Number lines will help you visualize this concept. Afterward, practice skip counting to 60:

  • Use paper clips on a paper plate – divide it into 12 sections, five clips each. This paper plate will serve as a “pre-clock.”
  • Group objects by five and count them.
  • Draw number lines.
  • Play associated digital math games.

How to Teach Time with Analog Clock?

Your kid has practiced counting by fives with an improvised paper plate that resembles a clock, and it’s time to make a cardboard clock. Check the following steps to make one:

#1 Make a Cardboard Plate

First, you need scissors, a dinner plate, a pencil, and a few square feet of cardboard. Put the dinner plate onto the cardboard sheet and underline it with a pencil. Afterward, cut the cardboard plate.

Make a Cardboard Plate

#2 Number the Plate

Now, It’s time to number the plate from 1 to 12 to make the clock’s face. Put these numbers about one inch before the edge of the cardboard plate. They will indicate hours.

Then, put fives above these numbers to indicate minutes – 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60.

Afterward, elaborate on the minutes – draw vertical dashes between the fives – 1, 2, 3, 4; 11, 12, 13, 14, etc. Now, your clock’s face shows both hours from 1 to 12 and minutes from 1 to 60 (0).

Number the Plate

#3 Cut Out Clock Hands

Draw a short hours’ hand and a long minutes’ hand on the cardboard. After that, label them “minutes” and “hours.” Then, cut out the hands.

#4 Assemble the Clock

Find the center of the cardboard plate and mark it with a pushpin. Place two hands on top of each other in the center of the clock’s face. Assemble the parts with the pushpin. Now, your DIY clock is ready for action.

Assemble the Clock

How to Teach Kids Read a Clock?

Tell your child that a short clock hand indicates hours, while a long one – minutes. You can paint hands in different colors to emphasize the difference.

How to Read Time: Explain How to Tell Hours

Explain that the clock hand positions to tell hours. If we speak of hours, the long hand should point at 12. The short clock hand points at a number to indicate that hour.

Thus, it’s five o’clock when a short clock hand points at five, while the long one points at 12. This position shows that it’s five hours and zero minutes. At this point, it will be visually clear on the clock’s face. If the hours’ hand points at eight, and the minutes’ one points at 12, it’s eight o’clock.

Practice telling time on a clock. Ask your child to move the clock hands to show a particular time – 4, 3, 2, 1, 12 o’clock.

Teaching Time on Analog Clock: Minutes

Kids usually struggle to grasp the double meaning of numbers on a clock. That’s why you have to draw minutes from one to 60. Tell your child that the long hand points at minutes.

Afterward, explain how it works by starting with the hour position. Let it be five o’clock: the short hand points at five, while the long one points at 12, showing that it’s 5:00. Move the long hand one minute forward while keeping the hours’ hand in its place. As you move the minute’s hand one dash forward, the clock shows 5:01. It’s one minute past five, and the time moves toward six.

Practice minutes with your child. Point the minute’s hand at different numbers and ask your child to tell the time. Then, ask them to play with the minute’s hand to show different times on the clock.

Learning to Tell Time on a Clock: Half Past, Quarter Past, Quarter To

Once your kid tells hours and minutes fluently, it’s time to learn more time concepts like half past, quarter past/to, and more.

Half Past

Explain that the long clock hand completes a full turn in an hour – this is why each hour starts when the long hand points at 12. When the long hand points at 6, it’s half an hour. “Half past” a particular hour means that the time has moved halfway toward the next hour. For instance, half past five means time has moved half an hour toward six.

Quarter Past and Quarter To

To explain quarters, you can separate the clock plate into four sections – 15 minutes each. These are quarters and they divide an hour into four equal 15-minute parts.

Now, you can explain the following rules:

  • Each time the long hand points at three (15 minutes) on the clock, it shows quarter past. For instance, a quarter past two means the short hand points at two while the long one points at 3 (15 minutes past two).
  • When the long hand points at nine (45 minutes), it means quarter to. In other words, there are only 15 minutes (which is a quarter) left until the next hour. For example, quarter to three means that the hours’ hand points at three, while the minutes’ hand points at nine. 

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How to Teach Telling Time with Books: Top Five Picks

Let us dive deep into five awesome books for kids to learn time.

Winnie the Pooh Tells Time

Winnie the Pooh plays with so many children through the TV screens around the world, why not study time with the lovely bear and his friends? Winnie the Pooh Tells Time guides children through time concepts while telling about the captivating adventures of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

How to Tell Time: A Lift-the-Flap Guide to Telling Time

This book teaches time telling with the help of interactive puzzles and a paper analog clock. Additionally, it helps your kid understand time through everyday activities, teaches time units, and provides quiz questions to solidify time skills.

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock is a paperback adaptation of a well-known time-telling song for children. As the clock shows different times, different animals come into the scene. A catchy rhyme and bright colors will boost your kid’s time telling skills.

Tell Time with the Very Busy Spider

A spider is a busy fellow. They weave their web, but different animals interfere with the business. When and how does the spider finish their duties? This catchy book will tell your child about time concepts through a fun spider’s story.

What Does the Clock Say?

What Does the Clock Say will become a perfect addition to your math bookshelf. This funny rhyme wrapped in a captivating story will explain all ins and outs of time telling for kids.

How to Tell Time for Kids: Five Comprehensive Videos

Most kids learn new information through visual assets, so you can also involve explanatory videos that teach telling the time. We’ve picked five most comprehensive videos on time telling below.

Learn How to Tell Time on a Clock

This seven-minute guide encompasses all nuances of time telling. It explains the clock’s face, clock’s hands, half past/half to concepts, and more. With illustrative graphics and comprehensive explanations, this guide will leave no questions behind telling time.

Telling Time for Kids (Quarter Past, Quarter To, Half Past)

This video spells out quarter past, quarter to, and half past using a catchy animation and explanatory audio. It will come in handy if you explain these terms separately or after reinforcing the basics of an analog clock.

How to Tell Time with a Second Hand-Learning the Clock

The simplest analog clock has two hands – one for hours and the other one for minutes. But what about seconds? This video guide explains time telling on a clock with three hands. Plus, it informs about skip counting and how to differentiate between seconds, minutes, and hours.

Telling Time (A.M and P.M)

Some kids struggle with differentiating A.M and P.M, but this video explains how to tell between the two. This guide starts with the morning, connecting children’s routines with time units. For example, it’s 8:45, and it’s time when Kate wakes up.

Telling Time for Kids – Both Analog and Digital Clock

Once your kid gets comfortable with the analog clock, you should refer to a digital one as it’s more commonly used in day-to-day activities. This guide ensures that your kid gets fluent in time telling on both analog and digital clocks.

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Brighterly’s Tutors Explain Time Telling to Children

Time telling is way more complex than you might have thought. If you believe your kid should learn time from professional mathematicians, you’re in the right place. At Brighterly, you can order a math course that will teach your kid math to the highest standards. Brighterly’s children’s math courses contain all major math topics within common core standards, including time telling. Just select the grade, enroll your child, and relax.

The tutors will help your child calculate in their mind and tell time on both digital and analog clocks without effort according to a child’s grade and math level.

Bottom Line

Teaching time telling is simple as long as you know all the ropes of analog and digital clocks. To help your child master time telling, you should start with the basics – counting to 60 and skip counting. Once you build a solid foundation, you can put up a time-telling sanctum on top of it, giving information proportionally and practicing each unit.

But if you want to save time and ensure your child learns from professionals, you can order a math course that teaches all math topics, including time telling.

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