Monday, February 7, 2011
Time Flies . . . or does it?
There's no time like the present, Time on your hands, Time flies when you're having fun - - - talk about abstract! How do we explain and teach time to children?
The concept of time is one of the most challenging to teach and for children to grasp. Time consists of divisions which include - the clock, the calendar, seasons/weather and how all this fits into our lives. Although time is linear, it is also cyclical which makes it a concept both concrete and abstract. No wonder some of us struggle with it. Understanding time must be tangible and meaningful to children. That's the challenge - here are some ideas on how get started.
A sense of time can start with understanding sequence and relational time events for young children. Relating time to known events is a great way of opening the door to the concept of time because it is meaningful and functional for the child. If they already know that their music class is 30 minutes long this can be used to explain the length of another event. So as you start to explain about time using relational events - length of a class, TV show, the amount of time it takes to drive to school, length of a song, etc. Talk about the actual time, the time it will take to accomplish the activity and then relate that to a known time frame for them. It isn't until about the age of 5 to 6 that the concept of time really starts to gel. Although teaching about the clock starts as early as preschool it isn't until 1st or 2nd grade that this really starts to make sense. I currently care for a 1st grader who loves to ask either on the way to school or the way home "what time is it?" When heading to school he really wants to know if he will have time to go to the computer lab before school starts. Afterschool he is calculating how much time we'll have to play a game or do an activity before I leave. Clever guy!
As with any new concept they'll need to practice and you'll need patience. Continue the routine of working on these ideas and you'll soon see the benefits.