How a Preschooler Tells Time

Girl readingI’m very much the mom that says “In a minute!” to my kid. It’s not that I’m dismissive of his wants or needs, rather that he has a knack for catching me pants-down in the bathroom or mid-rice pour over the stove or even in heavily congested rush hour traffic. None of those times are great for me to read him a book, you know? I wish my son could tell time but until that day, I rely on the general idea of time for him. In a minute. In five minutes.

Does he know what five minutes is? Not specifically in the term of five sixty-second increments. For him, “five minutes” means “soon.” It’s a warning that the activity is winding down and he better come when I call him.

I also like to run through the order of activities. When we get in the car, we go over the day’s schedule. While it’s usually the same, he finds it reassuring to know what to expect – “school,” then Daddy will pick him up, then we’ll play outside and have dinner.  He asks me when Pajama Day is and I tell him it’s in “three schools.”

That’s our counting system – schools. Sometimes “big night-nights.”

How long until my birthday? Four schools.

How many days until Grandpa?  Seven big night-nights.

“Four schools?” he asks. “Like this?” He holds up four fingers and I nod.  While he can count to 30, he only has 10 fingers and being able to hold up his fingers and see the visual representation helps him grasp the concept of passing time.

Personally, I find the way my preschooler tells time to be utterly adorable. He has a solid grasp on it and having this system helps keep the badgering away, since there is a solid answer that he can visualize with fingers and counting. In an abstract way that he does not grasp yet, it’s also helping him with basic math – counting backwards as the days go on and subtracting each day as it happens.

Do you have any cool or fun ways you tell time with your preschooler?


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Article Posted 2 years Ago
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