Why do children struggle to read analog clocks? As great an invention as it might be to tell time, the analog clock makes it challenging for your child to understand the concept of time.
Minutes and seconds are divided into 60, not 100, and the clock hands circle the 12 hours twice to fill 24 hours for a day.
So, start teaching from right there.
A clock displays 12 sections to represent both 12 hours and 60 minutes. The hour hand reads each number straight, but a minute hand means 5 times each number to count up to 60.
A big part of the problem is how children must interpret the hours and minutes differently depending on which hand is pointing to the number.
For example, the number 1 on a clock reads as 1 hour as it is, but the minute hand says it is 5 minutes.
Help your children understand that the circle of the minute needle means 60, which is divided into 12 groups of 5.
Additional challenges teaching time learning with a clock
1. An hour hand does not always stay on a number
Point out that the hour clock moves along as the minute hand approaches 60. Whenever the hour hand is between two numbers, teach kids how to read the smaller number.
For example, if it is 1:40, kids can be confused about the hour hand being near the 2. Let your child know the hour clock is approaching 2 as the minutes close in on 60, so they should read the smaller number for the hour.
2. Kids should understand the concept of skip counting by 5
It is important for children to understand skip counting by 5 in order to properly read each number indicated by the minute hand.
Each number indicates a multiple of 5, but in between two numbers there are tiny sections that can be added to the number as the minute hand passes it.
For example, in 1:17, the minute hand has passed the 3 and an additional 2 of the tiny sections between 3 and 4.
3. 24-hour time reads afternoon hours from 13 to midnight (24)
Depending on how people tell afternoon time, each hour can be read from 13 (for 1 o’clock) to 24 (for midnight).
Free PDF printable for teaching time to kids
Here are printable materials to help teach kids how to learn time and read a clock.
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Also, check out these posts below for further reading:
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