Developing a sense of time

Help children understand the concept of time at an early age.

October 24, 2013 - Author: Rachel Meyers,

Updated from an original article written by

By ages 5 and 6, children start noticing time telling tools like clocks. Photo credit: Pixabay.
By ages 5 and 6, children start noticing time telling tools like clocks. Photo credit: Pixabay.

At approximately two months, infants start to sleep through the night, although, not all newborns will follow this pattern. As a newborn child starts to settle into a routine, and parents and caretakers respond with predictable responses, the infant will start to develop a sense of time, although, not literally according to Michigan State University Extension.

As the infant matures, more noticeable differences, like day and night and what takes place during those times will start to become a predictable pattern.  How families use that time can be very individualized from family to family. Some of the beginning signs of starting to get a sense of time are when a child notices predictable events, like snacks or reading time. As children mature to 3-6-years-old, time is marked by special events like birthdays, parties and holidays. They typically do not have an understanding of yesterday, today and tomorrow, or what week or month an event takes place. According to School Family, parents and caretakers can help by talking about what they did last night, what they did this morning or will be doing during the day, and what they will do tomorrow. Talking about the day of the week and using a calendar can be very helpful too. Morning, lunch and dinner terms can also help develop a sense of time. By ages 5 and 6, children start noticing time telling tools, like clocks and start to become aware that when both needles are on the 12, they eat. Parents and caretakers can be helpful by pointing it out on the clock. A very helpful fun activity that parents or caretakers can do with young children ages 3-6 is cutting out pictures of events that take place in the child’s day and make a timeline of the day. By the completion of the project, it should be in a circular form that looks like a clock. Using calendars are also helpful in teaching the child yesterday, today, tomorrow and days of the month. The main thing is to purposely draw the child’s attention to events as they connect throughout the day.

Tags: 4-h, academic success, approaches to learning, cognition and general knowledge, early childhood development, life skills, msu extension

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