Learning to tell the time!
Telling the time is a key skill your child will be taught in stages during primary school. It is a core Maths skill in the National Curriculum but can be a tricky skill to master!
So you might be wondering how the topic of Time is taught in schools and at what stage they learn the different aspects of telling the time. When do they learn about the analogue clock or the digital 24 hour clock? When do they introduce telling the time in words and/or telling the time to the nearest minute?
Below we have outlined what the primary Maths National Curriculum says about it all and when certain aspects of time should be taught:
Teaching Time Year 1 (5 and 6 year olds)
- Children should be taught to tell the time to the hour and half past the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these time.
- Children use the language of time, including telling the time throughout the day, first using o’clock and then half past.
Teaching Time Year 2 (6 and 7 year olds)
- Children should be taught to tell and write the time to five minutes, including quarter past/to the hour and draw the hands onto a clock face to show these times.
- They should know the number of minutes in an hour and the number of hours in a day.
- Children should become fluent in telling the time on an analogue clock and recording it.
Teaching Time Year 3 (7 and 8 year olds)
- Children should be taught to tell and write the time from an analogue clock, including using Roman numerals and 12-hour and 24-hour clocks.
- They should be able to estimate and read time with increasing accuracy to the nearest minute and record and compare time in terms of seconds, minutes and hours. They should use vocabulary such as o’clock, a.m./p.m., morning, afternoon, noon and midnight.
- They will use both analogue and digital 12-hour clocks and record these times and prepare to use a digital 24-hour clock in year 4.
Teaching Time Year 4 (8 and 9 year olds)
- Children should be taught to read, write and convert time between analogue and digital 12 and 24-hour clocks.
Don’t worry - your child will learn all of this during primary school, but this is such an important skill, that parents often choose to reinforce telling the time at home and below are some ideas to help with the very early stages to make it fun for your child and help them understand some of the basics!
Top Tip 1
In the early days of learning to tell the time, it is important that your child recognises the terms ‘before and after’ So you could ask them some of the below questions:
‘Do you turn the tap on before or after you wash your hands?’
‘Do you wash the dishes before or after you eat your meal?’
‘Do you cheer before or after someone scores a goal?’
Top Tip 2
Time is measured in seconds, minutes and hours. There are 60 seconds in one minute and 60 minutes in one hour. Ask your child to answer some of the below to get their head around this:
‘How long does it take to pick up a pen? 3 seconds, 3 minutes or 3 hours’
‘How long does it take to brush your teeth? 2 seconds, 2 minutes or 2 hours’
‘How long goes it take to watch a film? 2 seconds, 2 minutes or 2 hours'
Top Tip 3
You can ask your child to compare pictures of day and night. Show them different pictures and ask them if they can work out which scene is day and which is night by looking at the differences in the pictures. You can then also explain the terms morning, afternoon, evening and night-time and do the same activity.
Top Tip 4
Have a blank clock face and ask them to write the 12 numbers around the clock. You can then explain that the short hand on a clock points to the hour and the long hand points to the minutes. Ask them to draw two hands on the clock for 9 o’clock. You can then start to test them on different o’clock times using blank clock faces.
I have a range of Time Cards that will help your child at each stage of learning to tell the time:
The Time Flashcards are to help your child read o'clock, quarter past, half past and quarter to times. These cards are a perfect resource to begin learning about time with your child as they show the time in 3 formats on each card.
The Time Matching Cards 1 are great for when they are learning the o'clock, quarter past, half past and quarter to. Spread these cards out onto a surface and ask your child to try and match the clock face with the time in words.
The Time Matching Cards 2 are similar to the above but allow the child to match o'clock, quarter past, half past and quarter to time on an analogue and digital clock. These cards will help your child to understand the 12-hour clock and 24-hour clock.
The Time Matching Cards 3 are for the more advanced learner when they tell time to the nearest minute on an analogue clock and in words.
The Time Matching Cards 4 go one step further and help your child read the time to the nearest minute on an analogue and digital clock.
I hope these will help you and your child to have fun learning to tell the time together! Let me know if you have any other fun activities you have tried out.