Telling Time Made Easy for Kids

telling time clock face
Telling time is a life essential skill and is a big stepping-stone in a child's life. Being able to tell time makes the child feels grown up. Teaching kids how to tell time takes time, patience and encouragement. There are many ways for kids to master this skill as long as they are ready to learn.

In fact, my children are so keen to learn to tell time that they prompted me to teach them earlier than I expected.

It did not occur to me that a young child does not understand the sense of time until an interesting incident happened......

My daughter was about 3.5 years old then. She went over to her grandma's house next door to watch cartoon and promise to be back at 9 o'clock to go to bed. I went over to get her at a quarter past nine when she was not back. She said, "Mom, you never teach me how to read the clock. So, I do not know when is 9 o’clock!"…though the clock was just hanging on top of the TV.

Challenges in teaching time to kids

Time Sense

- Young children do not have time sense. They have no sense how long is ten minutes, half hour or an hour.

Ability to Count and Understand Fraction

- The challenge for telling time comes in since there are 60 minutes in an hour. Reading time on analog clocks is often referred to in fractional terms. Children must be able to read and order numbers to 60, have an understanding of halves and fourths before they can read time. In general, children will only be well verse of fractions and order numbers to 60 at about 7-8 years old.

It does not mean that we should not teach telling time to children even with these challenges at a young age.

How Children Learn to Tell Time

There are several ways we can help children to master their time sense and learn how to tell time.

Daily Scheduled Activities

It is important to establish a daily routine schedule for children. Children brought up with an established daily schedule of activities can relate time based on their daily activities.

They can relate morning as the time to wake up and have breakfast. Afternoon is the time for lunch followed by a nap. Then, dinner and sleep at night. Kids learn simple time in a day such as morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Such routine scheduled activities also help to build time sense. They measure time interval based on the sequence of their daily activities.

My kids used to ask me when I would be back when I go to office or run errands. I told them I would be back from work when they had their meals while the sun is setting – that is evening. If I was running a short errand after their lunch, I told them I would be back when they wake up from their afternoon nap.

Using the sequence of their daily routine activities as a guide, the kids get a sense of how long I will be away and what time I will be back home. Telling time is simple for children to understand when it is referred to their activities.

Telling Time Games

There are many simple activities we can use to teach kids to tell time. Observing the position of the sun in the sky, measuring length of shadow and playing online clock games.

Learn to Read Clock

Use a clock to introduce hour when the kids are able to count from one to twelve. 
It is essential to give them a clock; be it a toy clock, real clock or watch. To the kids, it is another toy they can play with. Let them explore the gadget and figure out how to turn the clock hands etc. They may not be able to remember hour and minute hand. My kids called them the "long hand" and "short hand". I let it be as the child will be keener to learn with him taking the lead.

Do remember to introduce digital clock as well. Children need to learn reading digital time after grasping reading time with analog clock.
Refer to the clock, mention the time in hour and minutes with their activities during daily conversation. For example, you can tell them at the breakfast table – “….finish your breakfast by quarter past eight. Your school is going to start at half past eight" while referring to a clock at the same time.

Just like any skills, practice makes perfect. Use these printable clock worksheets for reading clock practice.

Learn about Time from Calendar

calendar to tell day and month
Telling time is not only hour, minutes and clock. We should also get children to learn about day and month using calendars. Give your kid a calendar, get him to circle the important dates, tell him the different festivals and holidays on the calendar. It is wonderful to know that my son has all family members birthday tracked in this way by himself.

Hierarchy of Time Sense Skills

Teaching kids learn to tell time does not simply stop at the point when they can tell time. It is important that we need to expand their time sense. This will set the foundation for them to have good time management skills in years to come.

The Hierarchy of Time Sense Skills is a good guideline. It may even be useful for autistic kids too.

Before you knew it, your child would have overcome this big milestone.


09/24/2016 7:01am

vry well postf or me.

11/22/2016 7:54pm

This is very relevant inputs and helpful especially for first time mom like me. I must say thank you so much for sharing this story and tips for us to be able to be more understanding and supportive to our kids. Learning and teaching them the basic tools of knowing time and importance of Time as well. Regardless of their age, I think it is really a Must that we must slowly introduce to children the value of time, knowing it in different mode of questions and answers and be understanding with them. I am so grateful I found this blog and truly will apply to myself and share to my friends as well.


This is a great idea. This is a very creative way to help children to tell the time and understands any related math in their young age. Many children do not usually understand any related math problems and can't even tell time. But with this kind of teaching many children can understand it. I hope many schools will apply this kind of teaching and many parent will grateful for having this kind of things will be taught to their children.

09/25/2016 8:45am

You are a good teacher. I appreciate your lessons and your experience.

10/03/2016 4:51pm

What a thoughtful post. Thank you!

10/03/2016 9:52pm

Thank you, Tracy. I am just sharing my personal experience. :)

10/10/2016 1:48am

Nice Post !! I like it, it also comprises a lot of useful facts. thanks to share your experience.

12/19/2016 2:38am

Thank you for sharing this post with us. It is important to teach our children on how to tell time. In telling time alone, a child can learn counting numbers, fractions and other useful facts. It should be taught to them the value of time because someday, it will be useful to them, especially when they are in the industry. Teaching it plays a big role in a child's development.

10/14/2016 12:37am

According to me you are a best teacher for your children's and you have shared with us interesting topic about "Telling Time Made Easy for Kids". And i agree with your point of view here "Telling time is a life essential skill and is a big stepping-stone in a child's life."

10/14/2016 2:27am


11/04/2016 1:56am

Kids should learn how to tell time while they are young. When we were kids, we don't have the sense of time. We just want to play and eat and sleep. We are always active. When I was a kid, the clock confused me. Good thing I learned how to read time quickly. Learning how to tell time can be really helpful for them in the future.

11/28/2016 2:03pm

...Thanks for the post, it's so useful for me...

12/10/2016 10:24am

Explaining about time to children and making them realize how important it is, is one of the best things.

01/04/2017 2:58pm

Something has gone bad when I browsed this page a few hour ago. But now it seems that there's nothing happen. Anyway, it's very interesting story. Love to read.


I found this blog after a long time which is really helpful to let understand different approaches. I am going to adopt these new point to my career and thankful for this help.

11/14/2017 4:04pm

This is actually great information located right here, I genuinely like your website. Several many thanks very substantially for the share. Keep placing up.


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