How I taught my boys to read the time

An idea came to my mind as I read the thread about selecting a suitable watch for a child.  I would like to share how I taught my boys how to read the time from the time they were as young as 6 years of age.

I first bought a ‘teaching clock’ from Popular and introduced the hour and minute hands to my boys when they turned 6.  Once they were familiar with what each hand does, I proceeded to stick that ‘teaching clock’ onto my kitchen wall.

Then whenever I did my chores in the kitchen, I would get them to "play with me", as in, I would test them to ask them to use the ‘teaching clock’ to show me first the ‘o’clock’, followed by half past, followed by quarter past, etc before I ‘graduated’ to more ‘complicated time’ like 5.05pm, 7.35am etc, meaning start off with the easier to read time like ‘o’clock’ first before proceeding to the more complicated time.

Then when the June holidays came, I bought them an analog watch and they were allowed to wear it at home everyday of the school holiday.  My goodness, that was a ‘treat to a 6-year old’.  They thought it was so ‘adult-like’ to be allowed to wear a real watch! 

And what did I do on my part with them wearing the watch everyday during the school holidays?  I would play along with them, getting them to tell me the time at selected intervals and by the time the June holidays were over, they were ready to wear their watches to school, no, not as a show-off, useless thing on their wrist, but a real watch where they could tell the time.

And by the time both boys entered Primary School, they had no problem reading their timetable etc and it was really a good thing as they were no longer ‘blindly’ following the timetable, not knowing what time is the next lesson etc.

Later on, I proceeded to teach them about the 12/24 hour clock when they were ready.

So here’s many personal experience.  Those with pre-school kids may want to give this method a try.


Interesting :) Thanks for

Interesting 🙂 Thanks for sharing

Interesting :) Thanks for

Interesting 🙂 Thanks for sharing

Hi amylqf You are most

Hi amylqf

You are most welcome.  Glad to share! 



maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing

Hi Desertwind Thanks for

Hi Desertwind

Thanks for sharing!  That’s how ‘magical’ the clock was to us as little kids right, that our mums would come back for us by the time the hands reached a certain number, right?  


maid to 3 men and a dog … 

I can still remember so

I can still remember so clearly when I first learnt to read the time.  I believe I was in PAP K1 and in the initial few days of school starting.  My mother brought me to the kindy and was talking to me about school etc….then when she was preparing to leave, she bent down very close to me and showed me her watch and said " See, did you see the time now is 9 am?  See this hand is pointing here at 9 am?"  Then she pointed me to look at a clock hanging right on top of the PAP classroom door: " See, that is exactly the same as showing on that clock.  When the clock hand is pointing at 11, that is when mummy will come and fetch you home!"

Wah, in that very instance, it was like a lightning flashed through me as comprehension dawned!    I became aware of the clock and realized how useful it is!  So that day, I watched the clock and when the hand reached 11, true enough, the classroom door opened and my mum was standing outside!

So until now I can remember my kindy hours were from 9 am to 11 am and this episode somehow became my lifetime memory from young. 

I will likely do the same for my boy soon!

Hi tree nymph Huh, but your

Hi tree nymph

Huh, but your method of learning the read the clock sounds very complicated to me, wonder how you did it as a little girl?  

maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Hi LKVM Yes, 6 is a good


Yes, 6 is a good time to start since they are already familiar with the numbers.  Good luck!  


maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Use Mandarin...

Hi maid,

Thanks for the pointers.  I remembered how I was taught to read the clock, using mandarin.  Cos its like 1.05 = 一点一个字, 3.30 is 三点六个字 and twelve o’clock is 十二点.   My neighbour was teaching her boy and I happened to pass-by and I stood there to watch.  Then I picked up in less then 5 mins.  My neighbour was very very surprise and couldn’t believe that I don’t know how to read time yet before this. 


Nice Article Maid

Just in time when I wanna teach DS1 time… he is now 6 🙂

Hi jenao Thanks for

Hi jenao

Thanks for dropping by.  Glad to hear that this article in useful to you.  June Holidays are coming. Perhaps you might want to consider my suggestion and get an analog watch and start teaching your son so that he is ready by the time he goes to P1 next year?  Casio is a good start and yes, a good idea to let the child choose the watch himself. No point getting a watch which he does not like.



maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Thanks for sharing. This is

Thanks for sharing. This is good timing as I was just trying to figure out how to teach my ds who will be in P1 next year. Getting a watch for him sounds like fun! Will get him to pick an analog watch.

Thanks peterch.  No, I am

Thanks peterch.  No, I am no model mum in KSP.  I am sure there are more deserving ones around!  



maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Hi autumnbronze Yes, it's

Hi autumnbronze

Yes, it’s good to start off with the easier to read times first, the o’clock for eg before venturing into the more complicated like 05, 10 etc and yes, it’s good that a child is able to associate a certain task with a certain time.

Since we are at that, I cannot resist telling you a joke here.  Till now, we are still teasing our younger boy about it!  

When my boys were toddlers, we used to attend the Sunset Mass on Saturday and after Mass, we would head to my mum’s house for dinner.

And because my boys were young then, we stopped going for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve till they were much older and were able to sit through the Midnight Mass or shall I call it ‘early morning Christmas Mass’.

One Christmas Eve, after the very first Christmas Eve Midnight Mass for them, we walked out of the Church and the first words my younger boy uttered were, "Mummy, time for dinner at Ah Mah’s house!"  Of course it did not dawn on him that it was 1am in the morning!  He associated dinner at my mum’s house after ALL Masses!  

We roared and explained to him that it was 1am and not 7pm!  

And now, it has become an annual joke and yes, he still remembers his "Mummy, time for dinner at At Mah’s house!"  



maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Hi Chenonceau Thanks.  You

Hi Chenonceau

Thanks.  You mean it’s too late now?  




maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Hi Happy Mama Thanks.  The

Hi Happy Mama

Thanks.  The idea to share this was a spin off from the thread discussing about what sort of watch to buy for a child and also prompted by the fact that I had to send my son’s watch for repair this afternoon!  



maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Well done Maid.... You are

Well done Maid…. You are one of the role model for Great Mum in KSP

Hi there

Hi there 25hourmaid,

What a timely article

I am teaching my DS how to identify 7.00am (waking time), 1.00pm (art lesson), 7.00pm (dinner time) right now, by showing how the minute hand points to 7 and the hour hand points to 12 etc …Think that is the easiest for him to grasp so far.

I just realized he was beginning to understand the concept of time when I told him he had to be back from the playground by 6.50pm in the evening.  He turned around and said, "yes mummi, when the lamposts are switched on."  I was pleasantly surprised.  But I think thats how they start off first … by association of something concrete, then move on to the abstract.

Your tips will come in handy now that I am into bread making …. it’ll be a good way to occupy him.

This is smart!! I wish I

This is smart!! I wish I had thought of it back then. Would’ve helped my kids be less blur blur!!

Thanks for Sharing

Thanks for sharing, 25hourmaid…  I’m sure those with pre-school kids will benefit from this article… 🙂

Hi DessertwindThanks for

Hi Desertwind

Thanks for dropping by, you are most welcome.  Glad you found the info useful.


maid to 3 men and a dog … 

Thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing 25hourmaid, I will bear this in mind when my boy’s turn comes!

Related Articles