How to Help Your Preschooler Learn About Time

School was never very difficult for me.

I often made the honor roll, participated in the spelling bee, and I could usually pass all my classes without ever studying.

However, one thing that I remember being difficult for me was learning to tell time from an analog clock.

I specifically remember being in one of my elementary classes (it must have been first or second grade) and just feeling so frustrated! Why was it so hard to tell time?

I’ll even admit that now I have to study the clock more than I’d like to admit on occasion (though, I can tell time. haha).

Today I was trying to teach Jack the basics of telling time, and let me tell you, it was a struggle for both of us.

Fortunately, after I did some Googling, I discoverd most children don’t learn to tell time until they are 7-8, so it made me feel better that we weren’t completely failing 🙂

However, I decided to research a few ideas on how to introduce the concept of time to a preschooler. Here’s what I found!

Avoid Confusing Time Phrases

How often do you say “just a second” or “give me a minute” to your child? I know I do this all the time – and let’s be real – it never takes a literal second.

This can be confusing to children as they are trying to understand the concept of time. If you say “just a second” and then take a few minutes, then they may have a harder time understanding what a true second is.

Use a timer

Using a timer is a great way to help your child begin to understand basic concepts of time.

For instance, you can say “I am going to set this time for five minutes and you need to brush your teeth and put on your shoes in that time.” As you set the timer, and as it eventually goes off, they will start to understand

Suggest relatable sources

When my little brother was small, when he would ask about how long something was going to take, I would often say, “One Blue’s Clues episode!”

Well, I do the same now with Jack and some of my other nieces and nephews. I think if you take things that they are familiar with (for instance, a favorite TV show), they start to understand how long something is.

Once they start to get older, you can start to say things like, “Well, your favorite show (insert favorite show) is 30 minutes long – or one half hour.” And it helps them to understand those periods of time.

Analog before digital

We live in a very digital world, and chances are, there will almost always be some kind of digital clock around.

However, I still believe it’s important to teach a child how to read and appreciate an analog clock BEFORE they understand the ease of a digital. Knowing how to tell time helps strengthen basic math skills such as counting, addition, and subtraction.

One great way to introduce analog clocks is to have your child make their own paper one! I even remember doing this in elementary school.

You can download this great free clock template that your child can cut out the hour and minute hands and design the clock to be their own personal style. It can help you start to introduce the basics of time!

Teach child how to count

This is a very basic thing to teach your child – and obviously it’s important for many reasons. However, it is very beneficial for when they are starting to learn how to tell time – especially up to 60.

Use Time Whenever You can

Make an effort to use time. Point out to your child how long something is taking, the different times of day, and anything you can to help your child recognize time in their day to day life.

There are many fantastic resources out there to help introduce the concept of time to your children – even from a young age.

Scholastic and TIMEX have recently joined together to help provide parents with some great resources as well. You can check out their new collaborative website which include things like:

  • How much time? Practice converting digital time to analog while completing daily tasks with your kids
  • Time to Talk: Learn how to discuss time management and identify what daily tasks you and your child are struggling with.
  • Matching Time: Cut out digital and analog clocks and mix them up with this fun matching game.

They also have a fun sweepstakes that parents can enter as well – there will be up to 50 winners! All parents have to do is upload a photo of their family and use a unique caption that starts with “I know it is _____ o’clock when . . .”

I know that teaching time can be a tricky concept, but there are so many simple ways to incorporate time into your child’s every day life. I hope that these tips will be helpful!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Timex. The opinions and text are all mine.


All we ask is that you be kind. We welcome differing opinions, but any comments containing personal attacks, sarcasm, etc. will be removed immediately. Keyboard warriors aren’t welcome 🙂 All comments are moderated and may take time to be approved. Anything not pertaining specifically to the content of a post will be removed (including comments about ads).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.