Time. It's a tough one. How do you teach something so important when it's difficult to show? Well, we think we have an idea! Sand Timers!
We've put together some of our top tips on how to use these great tools to get the most out of them and to start teaching your little ones about time.
Ask how long they think something will take. How long do you think it will take for ..... is a great start. Maybe ask how long they think it will take for them to finish a puzzle? Set a few of the different timers to go and see which one they are the closest to. This will help encourage their estimation and understanding that they do things that take time.
Use the 5 minute timer to show how an analog clock take one turn for the minute hand to travel between numbers. Use the sand timer along with the analog clock to show things that take 5 minutes.
Especially helpful for children with learning difficulties and behavioural difficulties the visual of time passing can be more easily understood than an analog clock or even a digital clock. Time can literally be seen passing with these visual tools.
Use the timers to help children do things like tidy up or get ready for school. Games such as - let's see if we can clean up all our toys before the 5 minute timer runs out. Or you can play for 10 minutes, which is when this timer will run out. Even for practical things such as brushing their teeth.
Sandtimers can be used to help manage positive behaviours:
You can help stop conflict in it's tracks - especially with things like taking turns when two people want to play with the same toy. 'I know you both want to play, so when the sand runs out we can switch over' and turn the timers for 1 or 3 or 5 minutes.
You can help stop tantrums or meltdowns. I know things like leaving for school when they are playing with toys or watching a few minutes of cartoons while you get yourself ready can lead to meltdowns when it's time to stop. Saying 'I know you are enjoying what you're doing, so when the timer runs out we'll stop okay?'
You can use them to indicate how long until something is finished. When they are asking when dinner will be, or when you'll be finished with work to be able to play for example. You can also use it in the reverse way - as a positive thing too! Like 'we'll kick the ball outside for 10 minutes if you read quietly for 10 minutes'. It will be a happy way to transition and stop repeated questions that tend to drive mums a little crazy.
Remember, as with learning anything, it can take some time before children grasp the concept of it.
Use them repeatedly! Be consistent, be attentive. When the timer runs out do what it is you said would happen.
Be in control! The adult gets to control the timer at all times.
Teach your child how they work best - not to touch or move them once they are turned.