What age should a child be able to tell the time?

Learning to tell the time is a highly crucial skill that can serve your child in many ways. It is no wonder why you may be curious about what age your child should be able to tell the time correctly. Though every child is different, experts place the age children should be able to tell the time at five to eight.  This is because the rate at which children learn is associated with the development of their brain. Older children understand advanced concepts better because of their ‘matured’ neural synapses.

At what age should your child be able to tell the time?

Here is the breakdown:

AgeExpected Milestones
Age 5 & 6Children in this age should be able to understand the marker of hours/half-hours in analogue clocks and draw a clock. 
Age 6 & 7Children in this age range can understand the total number of minutes in a single hour and how many hours in a day. They can also grasp time vocabulary like ‘quarter to’ and ‘quarter past’.
Age 7 & 8 Children in this age range can read the different types of analogue clocks ( Roman numeral clocks, 24-hour clock and 12-hour clock). They can differentiate time and use time-vocabulary efficiently. 
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Read: Why does my child have a hard time remembering things

What are the benefits of learning to tell the time?

Teaching your child ‘time telling’ comes with a host of benefits which include:

  • Learning to tell the time can improve mathematical skills in children. Since a typical analogue clock comes with numbers, it can improve your child’s numerical recognition and arithmetical abilities.
  • It can help your child understand the ‘value of time’, which will, in turn, lead to the development of vital interpersonal skills and conduct such as a sense of duty, punctuality, self-reliance and time management.
  • Teaching your child to tell the time will provide you with an excellent opportunity to spend time with your child by bonding over a delightful activity.

Reading: How can I help my child retain information

How do I encourage my child to learn to tell the time?

If your child finds the task of learning to tell the time difficult, here is what you can do to encourage him:

Familiarise your child with ‘time’

You can create a connection between daily activities and the time. For instance, you can say, ‘it’s 8 o’clock – time for brushing our teeth’, or ‘It’s 6 o’clock – time for dinner’. This will draw your child’s attention to how the time functions and its importance in our everyday lives.

Include time in games and play

Your child may find time concepts challenging because he may feel it is boring or too abstract. One way to create a fun-centred approach to learning the time is by including time in fun activities like games and play. For instance, you can play a card game with a timer or use a stopwatch to finish a task. 

Practice counting

Before teaching your child to tell the time, he has to be comfortable with counting numbers. Your child should also understand the order of numbers. He should also be familiar with a group of fives or five times multiplication tables. You can practice counting with your child or use counting songs to make counting fun. 

Start with an analogue clock

Resist the temptation to start with a digital clock when teaching your child how to tell the time. Your child can visualise the passage of time with an analogue clock; a digital clock does not offer that benefit. The analogue clock provides a foundation for your child’s numerical development. The clock hands in the analogue clock are symbolic as they show time slipping away, you will want your child to understand that.

Digital clocks are also important, but they will be easy to learn, once your child has grasped the basics of reading an analogue clock.

Get a watch for your child

A watch will help your child to be familiar with time. It will also increase his capacity to learn about time and seamlessly integrate time into his everyday life. The watch should not only be kid-friendly but should have a clear long and short hand. That will help your child understand the functions of minute and hour. 

Read: What can Parents do at Home to support Child Academic learning

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