Children gain a sense of time through understanding sequences and order. Understanding terms like first, tomorrow, or before is as important to routines as kids understanding the hands on the clock.
You can help your child with these concepts by:
- Using time related words and terms such as before, after, morning, afternoon, evening, today, tomorrow, yesterday, soon, later. Explain what these terms mean.
- Pointing out time related words in books and stories.
- Talking about sequences of events, e.g. Brush your teeth after you have eaten, Dad will pick you up after school
- Using visual routine charts to refer to each daily activity. Visual cues can complement the words you are using, e.g. First get out of bed then change into your day clothes, eat breakfast….
- Playing games where you give your child a sequence of instructions to follow, or get them to give you some. This will encourage your child to listen out for and think about important words that tell us what order to do things in.
- Referring to names of the days of the week or each month. Involve your child with playful mini quizes: “If today is Wednesday, what is tomorrow?”, “what month comes after May but before July?”
- Encouraging your child to role play or act out activities in their day. This provides the experience of actually doing the tasks which can help reinforce memory and understanding of what order activities occur.
- Talking about events in the past, present or future, e.g. plans for the coming school holidays, what you did last holidays.
Using time-related words, and linking them to sequences your child knows, will promote your child’s understanding of time concepts and encourage your child to use them in setting up routines and following instructions in the future. Understanding time-related language and sequences is also essential to understanding clocks and calendars. Sequence and order and time are all intertwined.
Even when you think your child really “gets it”, continue using these strategies to reinforce more advanced time management skills.