Helping kids tell and count time 
 
          How long will it take to get there? How long until 2:00? How much time
does it take to make the bed?

          Kids have fuzzy concepts about time. And these concepts will stay that
way until we do something to clear them up.

          How many times have you reminded your child to make his bed, pick his
clothes up off the floor, or brush his teeth, just to notice that he still hasnít begun
to do the required task? Iíve noticed that, for some reason, both at home and at
school, kids get moviní when I start counting or timing them. I donít know why it
works, but it usually does.

          Instead of nagging about doing the task you are talking about, try saying,
ďOkay, letís see how long it takes you to make that bed. Ready, set, go!Ē And
then watch the second hand keep track of the time for you.

          Interpreting the results can be helpful. This is how you find out that it takes
only one and a half minutes to make the bed, five minutes to take out the
garbage, or two minutes to straighten up the bathroom after the bath.

          Children start to understand how long a minute is because their activities
are measured by using this unit.

          I also like this method because we adults can use it we can help children
understand that their time is a contribution that needs to be made to help family
life flow smoothly. They are the beneficiaries of the hours that we spend cooking,
cleaning, shopping, and maintaining things around the house. It is, therefore,
reasonable that we expect them to spend their five minutes here and ten
minutes there as a contribution meant to help the family.

          As with so many things, a lesson begun with teaching time and its
meaning becomes a lesson about the understanding of what it takes to keep
things running smoothly when all members of the family pitch in and contribute
their share. 

          This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.

 
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