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"Are we there yet?"
"How much longer?"
"When will we be there?"
If you have resorted to tactics of distraction or misdirection when responding to these questions from your young child, whether at home or traveling, you may be missing a chance to introduce your child to understanding the basics of "telling time!" Now, I am as guilty as the next parent of having brushed off the repeated questions about arrival from my young daughter on car trips, hikes, flights, etc., but recently, on a road trip with my cousins, I realized that these inquiries afforded an opportunity to make "time" fun and less abstract for little minds. Below are five fun steps for introducing "time telling:" just remember to take it slowly and proceed at an age appropriate pace (most preschool aged children will really only grasp hours and half-hours at first).
- Start with hours. Use an analog clock to identify the "big numbers," explain that these are the hours. Show your child the hour hand and explain how when it moves from one number to the next, one hour has passed. Explain what you can you do in an hour (i.e., watch a movie, walk the dog, etc.)!
- Once this concept is clear, then introduce half hours. Give an example of what can be done in half an hour (i.e., time of a TV show, etc.)!
- Quarters are much more difficult, but can be introduced the same way as halves.
- Then, once those concepts are clear, move on to the explanation of five minute intervals (i.e., the time it takes to get dressed, or to make a sandwich, etc.).
- Finally point to the minute hand. Explain that, just like with hours, when the minute hand moves from one tick mark to the next, one minute has passed. Provide examples activities that can be done in a minute. Have your child try to do something for one minute,like run in place, hold a ball overhead, etc..