Introducing the child to time: 5 simple and useful games

Time is a difficult conceptual category for children, they master it gradually. But, despite the individual characteristics and development schedules, all babies go through several key stages.

Up to 2 years

While the passage of time the child does not notice, for him such a concept simply does not exist, but you can give guiding guides. Now life and the world around him revolve around his physiological needs. So with a more or less regular mode of the day, he intuitively remembers when you feed him, bathe, take him for a walk. According to these “hours”, the baby gets his first and very vague idea of time.

And closer to 2 years, he will be able to guess what the words “soon” and “wait for a little” mean. Until this point, take care of your nerves and do not rush to bring up patience in the child, while he is simply not ready for this.

Don’t forget the hourglass. With them, it is convenient not only to brush your teeth,but also to perform tasks for a while until the baby learns to use a classic watch.

By the age of 3

At this age, children may generally become aware of two temporal categories: the near future and the recent past. Still perfectly feel the difference between “before” and “after”, when you give them clear instructions: “First put on socks, then sneakers”, “We go to the park, then look at the store.”

In 4-5 years

Many children at the age of 4 begin to be seriously interested in the duration of a variety of events, but most of all they are concerned about the questions “How much longer to wait?” and “When will we arrive?”. And most kids are fascinated by hands and dials. Often there is a desire to wear a wristwatch to be like mom or dad.

But while all the key temporal concepts they interpret in their own way, so they can easily ride from the slide at least “one hundred hours”. They also actively use in their dictionary temporary designations like “before”, “after”, “day”, “night”, “tomorrow”, “yesterday”, “immediately”, “immediately”. However, they cannot yet fully feel how long the “moment”, “morning” or “week” to teach a child to watch time

© Ivan-balvan / iStock / Getty Images how to teach a child to watch time

Watch with a surprise

When you want to teach your child to determine the time by the clock, it is better to choose a model with arrows of different colors. The task is not the most difficult, it is enough to glue them with colored tape, for example. It is very difficult for kids to delve into each time which arrow is “small” and which is “big”, while listening to your explanations and trying to decipher digital designations.

When you tell a child: “We go to the kindergarten in half an hour,” it is clear to you that before leaving the house you will have time to raise your eyebrows, throw dirty laundry in the washing machine, and wipe off a centimeter layer of yesterday’s dirt from rubber shoes. But your four- and even five-year plan will isolate from this phrase only one thought: “Soon we will go out into the street.” Keep this in mind so as not to get angry and despair. Until, without your help and empathetic guidance, the child will not be able to get ready for a walk as quickly as you. By the way, some adults also need a ton of time for training. Perhaps you are even one of them, just that for some reason you are ready to make indulgences.

It is much easier for a child to understand what you mean when you do not name the days of the week and not the exact time, but make a binding to regular routine events: “We will have dinner when dad returns from work”, “Let’s go to the pool after cartoons”, “Guests will come to dinner”.

But this does not mean that accurate designation of time in speech do not need to be used. On the contrary, they are necessary for the baby to gradually learn to catch their meaning.

On guard of silence

With the help of a watch, it is quite possible to teach a child to respect the desires and peace of other people. If you understand that now you need to be in complete silence and alone, say it directly. And explain that the door to your room can be opened after the big arrow is on the number 3, and the small one is on the number 12. At first, the baby will still come to you every 5 minutes, but soon he will get used to it. Similarly, you can tell when you go to the airport. This tactic is sometimes the only remedy against the endless “Moms, well, soon?”.

After 5 years

Children begin to gradually understand the days of the week and months. If you deal with them, they can even recognize dates.

When you tell a child that you will go to the sea “in two days”, and the taxi will be at the entrance “in 2 hours”, he has a good idea of how long he will have to wait.

Between 6 and 8 years

At about 6 years old, children can consciously operate on the days of the week and firmly assimilate their sequence. Closer to 8 years, they learn to use a mechanical clock with three hands and understand the expressions “the day after tomorrow”, “the day before”, “three days ago”.

There are a lot of exciting tasks that will help the baby to realize the passage of time. If you do not turn classes into dry cramming, but present information in the form of a cognitive game or in the form of a tempting experiment, there will be more sensitive.


Today you can buy many colorful manuals to tell your child about the seasons, days of the week, hours, and minutes. But what he will do with his hands with you will bring much more benefit and pleasure. And to both of you. The time spent with the baby is to teach a child to watch time

© fizkes/Getty Images/iStockphoto how to teach your child to watch time

Useful workouts

There are a lot of exciting tasks that will help the baby to realize the passage of time. If you do not turn classes into dry cramming, but present information in the form of a cognitive game or in the form of a tempting experiment, there will be more sensitive.

  • Day and night. Up to 3-4 years, young children often confuse breakfast with lunch or dinner, especially if they are still asleep during the day. To elementary concepts learn faster, make a visual poster with pictures. The information will be remembered better if the hero of the mini-story is the kid himself. To do this, first take a picture of him in those moments when he wakes up, brushes his teeth, has breakfast, plays, has lunch, sleeps during the day, has an afternoon snack, walks and so on. Then print the pictures and make a collage. Contact him as often as possible when you comment on your daily routine in real time.
  • Seasons. To remember the seasons will help still life with a thematic composition. At the beginning of each season, you select to your taste those of its symbols that can be made of plasticine or paper. Let the baby determine them for himself, and you will help him materialize his plan. You can place your treasures anywhere: in a beautifully decorated box, on a tray or on a wall panel.
  • Today and yesterday. This exercise was invented by Maria Montessori herselfto help kids realize how the present turns into the past. Take a sheet of whatman, divide it into two columns. In the left at the very top, write the word “past”, in the right – “present”. It remains to offer the baby with your help to fill the columns with newspaper clippings, photos or drawings, and then sensitively monitor the changes taking place. For example, in early June, you can draw a summer landscape, and then it will be in the category of “present” for three months. And if today you hang the news about the happy rescue of the dog Bug, which was lost in your area, then the next day this news will already sink into the “past”.
  • Age. Another interesting practice on the Montessori method will help the child to get a more or less formalized idea of age. However, this exercise is suitable after 5 years, when children are already beginning to master the basics of counting. Give the baby a sheet of ordinary white paper, place it horizontally. Then help him write in the column the names of the closest relatives, starting with the youngest members of the family. Then take the paper lined into a large cell and explain that one square is equal to one year. Now ask the baby to count for each relative as many squares as he is old. Then the “annual strips” need to be cut out and glued in front of all the written names.
  • Time. With seconds, minutes and hours, it is better to acquaint the child in a game form. Look for simple comparisons, take examples from your joint experience, they will help to feel these time intervals more fully. For example, a second is enough to blink slowly once or to clap twice quickly. You can check it right there. Then figure out what you can do in a minute. Like running from the bedroom to the kitchen and coming back. Or singing a short song. And in an hour, you usually have time to go to the store or get to your grandparents.

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