Sunday, 24 February 2019

Tips for Teaching Time

Teaching children to tell the time is a big job. There are so many elements of maths, number and life which children have to understand in order to be successful with reading analogue and digital clocks and understanding 12 and 24 hour times.  Children often have very different experiences with time, depending on how and how much their parents refer to time.  I've taught this to different year groups in many different ways over the years and this blog post outlines some tips for teaching it which should be useful for any year group. 
  • Start with Clare Sealy's amazing blog post. Clare has outlined the steps to follow when teaching time to ensure children can keep up and to prevent cognitive overload. Many schools outline the order in which they teach written calculations. Having a similar document about the order in which time-related skills are taught would be a great idea and this blog post is where I'd recommend you begin when compiling it.  This order is completely logical, very different to how many teachers go about introducing time and I've not seen any maths schemes that follows these steps.
  • Buy a decent teaching clock.  I really like this one as the hands move together.  If possible, also get some similar clocks like this which the children can manipulate.  Claire suggests removing the minute hands at first - please be careful with this and test that you can put them back on successfully.  If it works, do it! 
  • Use an interactive teaching clock once children start getting confident. There is a selection of interactive clocks on the Interactive Maths Wibki page under the Time heading on the left.  Make sure the clock does what you want it to, for the purpose of the learning.  These are great to use during inputs but are also effective for children to use in pairs practising time between them, again with a particular focus. 
  • Carefully consider when, why and if children need to draw hands on blank clock faces.  There is worksheet after worksheet filled with blank clock faces for children to draw the hands to show the time.  Think about, as an adult, how often you think about time. If you're at all like me, it's quite often.  Now think back to the last time you had to create the time on a clock on paper by drawing the hands to the right time.  Unless you're an artist, illustrator or cartoonist, I can't think of a time you'd ever need to do that and I certainly never had.  This is such a useless task, especially when children are learning to tell the time.  There could be some benefit to children doing this once they've mastered all the steps in Clare's blog post, perhaps as a quick fluency or reasoning activity.  Please think about the activities children are doing, how useful they are and exactly what you are expecting them to learn. 

  • Teach all the 5s past the hour (including 40/55 etc past) before teaching the 5s to the hour. Once children have started learning the 5s past the hour, introduce digital time alongside this.  Then, only once children have mastered the 5s past the hour and the corresponding digital time, introduce the 5s to the hour. It's much easier to recognise that it's 5/10 etc to the hour when you fully understand that it's 50/55 past the hour. 
  • Have a Time-Teller Of The Day. Very simply, buy some watches and some stickers and watch your pupils become more and more confident with practising telling the time and discussing it with each other.
  • Weave the learning of time throughout the day.  As soon as I realised how few of my year four class could tell the time, I'd be found carrying my large teaching clock around with me.  I'd be giving children time-related questions in the line on the way to assembly, out at break if they were hanging around for a chat and on the side of the swimming pool while the other half of the class were having their lesson. 
  • Raise the profile of analogue watches with your class and their parents. I wear an analogue watch and I encourage pupils to do the same. We talk about their watches (not the makes!) and I tell them that the children who are best at telling the time are the ones who wear an analogue watch. We discuss how digital watches are good but are much easier to read.  Wearing an analogue watch encourages children to practise telling the time on the more difficult clock type and ensures they are more familiar with analogue clock faces. 

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