Calendars and clocks rule the lives of adults. In our technological society, most of us have to be mindful of days and weeks far more than seasons. In preschool we at Kids Konnect begin to teach our preschool children about units of time, incorporating calendars into preschool activities. You can help your child learn about time divisions at home, too.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other researchers caution that many children four and under simply cannot comprehend abstract concepts of time (hours, days, weeks, months). Parents may become unduly frustrated when attempting to explain, "Today is Monday and in two days, on Wednesday, we have a play date with your friend Chris." Your child may have no idea what you mean; that’s okay.
For children who do seem ready to absorb time lessons, NAEYC recommends a linear calendar. Rather than the ubiquitous grid we adults contend with daily, arrange a calendar that progresses from left to right. This is the flow of words in English, and allows children to see the month’s numbers increasing (even if they do not know the numbers). Use small Post-It strips and have your child add the new day to the right of yesterday.
The memorization needed to learn the names of months and days can begin as jumping games, say the experts at We Are Teachers. Remember that these preschool activities do not immediately put meaning to the words, so be prepared for your child to recite while jumping, “Monday, Tuesday, July, Friday, October.”
Calendars and units of time are types of measurement tools, so good preschool activities that connect mathematics to time will help your child absorb more when she or he is ready. Consciously talk about time terms as they relate to measurement:
- “We go to preschool five days while Mommy and Daddy work, and then we all enjoy two days at home together on the weekend.”
- “Daddy uses measuring cups to bake your birthday cake, and calendars to count the days until your birthday on the 22nd day of September!”
Your goal is not direct instruction, but creating an environment in which time words are used often and explained in context.
What preschool activities work in your house to help your child comprehend time? Kids Konnect would love to hear from you in the comments section below.