Parents constantly tell kids to wait a minute.
But little ones don’t always understand what that means or that a minute is a measure of time. By the time they are 4 years old, children start to understand concepts like “before lunch” or “after we go to the store.” Actual “clock times” are still challenging to comprehend.
Educators say that you can help preschoolers learn by associating events — such as meals, bath time and bedtime — with time. For example, say things like, “It’s time to brush your teeth before we go to Grandma’s house” or “We will have dinner tonight after Daddy comes home from work.”
When it comes time to actually teach children how to tell time (ages 4-6), the choices of how to do so are endless. Dozens of devices have been used over the centuries, including candles, hourglasses, sundials, clocks with gears, watches, clock towers and astronomical clocks.
Digital clocks are probably the easiest with which to teach once little ones can identify numbers. Repetition helps, so say things like, “We eat lunch at 12:00” or “It will be time to go to bed at 7:00.”
The most familiar tools to identify on a traditional clock are the big and little hands on its face. So, say something like, “When the little hand is on the 6 and the big hand is on the 12, Mommy will be home.”
As we approach a new year, there is another fun way to explain time: with a countdown to the new year. The biggest water clock in North America can be found at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. There, families can watch the neon green and bright blue clock drip down, drop by drop, to a new year on Dec. 31, 2019. The clock stands 26.5 feet tall and will help welcome 2020 at the family-friendly hours of 12 pm and 1 pm. There will be a live band and New Year’s Eve swag while supplies last.
Families who can’t join that celebration can visit most days to listen to an actor interpreter explain in a kid-friendly way how time works with the water clock. The big orb-shaped balls represent one hour and the smaller discs represent two minutes. When it’s time to move forward to a new hour, visitors watch the water drain from the tubes to fill a new orb.
Brought to you by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.