How Can We Teach Children To Tell The Time?

Written by Dan

Many primary school children have difficulty telling the time, which can be a frustrating experience for them and their teachers. Especially as time questions are common in the Year 6 Sats Tests. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and strategies to help teach telling the time more manageable. We’ll also look at some common mistakes children make when learning to speak the time so that you can avoid them in your own teaching. By the end of this post, you should better understand how to teach primary school children to tell the time. Let’s get started!

Start With The Basics

Teaching children about the basics of a clock can be an engaging and fun experience. Introducing them to time by exploring a simple watch can be a great introduction to telling time.

Explain to them that clocks have hands, which help keep track of hours and minutes – long hand for hours and shorthand for minutes.

Show them how these hands move in a circle, each minute moving the hand forward in one position on the face of the clock.

To make it more attractive to young minds, you can also explain that watches come in various shapes and sizes, some even without hands, such as digital clocks.

Explaining these elementary details will help them understand how clocks are used to tell time, an essential life skill they need as they progress through their education.

Analogue Clocks

Teaching children how to read an analogue clock is an important life skill they can carry into adulthood. Basic knowledge of telling time helps with classroom activities and can help children plan their day more efficiently and give them an understanding of the importance of punctuality. When teaching this skill, it’s important to explain both the hour hand and the minute hand.

Have the child identify where each hand rests when it’s twelve o’clock, then move the hands with them as you explain that the hour hand moves in smaller increments and the minute hand moves faster around the clock face. After explaining this concept, it’s best to practice with many examples!

Letting kids read off times from a worksheet or play games by guessing what time is on the clock can make learning more fun while helping reinforce their skills.

Use Concrete Resources

While digital and analogue clocks can show them how to understand the passage of time, it is most effective for kids to use substantial resources to gain a solid understanding.

These hands-on activities, such as holding actual watches or clocks in their hands, allow children to learn more effectively than if they were looking at abstract diagrams. They can learn techniques such as counting the numbers on a clock face or tracking the minute hand as it moves around its circle.

In doing so, they can get a feel for the length of time and specific time marks. Valuable learning experiences ensure that young learners have relevant skills for everyday life.

Use Everyday Examples

Children need to understand the concept of time, and one of the best ways to do this is through everyday examples. Showing a child that breakfast needs to be eaten in the morning and dinner at night can help them learn how time frames are set.

For more extended events like birthdays or holidays, it can be helpful to mark down a calendar with reminders as the day approaches; this teaches them about planning and organizing around timelines.

Additionally, giving kids small challenges or tasks can demonstrate how long a particular activity should take – for example, describing that homework should take an hour to complete reinforces when they should allocate their free time.

Children will better understand its concept by connecting tasks and exercises with a sense of order surrounding time.

Keep It Consistent

Teaching children the concept of time can be challenging. However, with regular and consistent practice, even young children can start to understand and develop their ability to tell the time. Encouragement and support are essential to this process, as is finding creative ways to make the learning fun.

Building a routine that includes several daily practice sessions can help children become more familiar and comfortable with the concept of ‘time’ while also giving them tools they will need throughout their lives.

Making clocks easily accessible in different places around the home or school – such as in the kitchen or classrooms – can further help your child increase their time-telling skills daily.


Rewarding children for their efforts in telling time can be a great way to encourage and motivate them to learn new things. Praise is essential in teaching children to say to the time because it helps build their confidence as they strengthen their knowledge of the concept.

Small prizes, such as stickers or tokens, can also be beneficial by providing incentives for little successes in learning how to keep track of hours and minutes.

When rewards are used consistently and fairly, they help reinforce good behaviour and demonstrate that producing quality work has unique benefits.

By engaging children with rewarding measures such as praising and offering small prizes, teaching them the concept of tracking time could be an enjoyable experience for all involved parties.

Learning to tell the time is an important life skill your child will use daily. By starting with the basics and gradually building up their understanding, you can help them become confident and proficient in telling the time. With practice and encouragement, they will say to the time like a pro in no time!


What resources should teachers use to teach children how to tell the time?

Teachers should use various resources to help children learn how to tell the time. This can include clocks, watches, timers, and calendars. Additionally, everyday examples such as set times for meals or tasks can help teach the concept of time.

How often should children practice telling the time?

For children to become confident in telling the time, they must practice regularly. Setting aside a few minutes daily or a few times a week can help children build up their skills and understand the concept better. Additionally, providing positive reinforcement and rewards for success can also be beneficial.

At what age should children learn how to tell the time?

Child development experts typically agree that children should start to learn how to tell the time between the ages of five and eight. This can be done through simple activities such as telling analogue time or showing digital times on a clock. Parents and teachers must consider their child’s development and adjust teaching methods accordingly.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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