Helping Your Child with Telling the Time


  1. 5 tips to help your child tell the time 
  2. The GoStudent Telling the Time PDF
  3. Do kids today have a harder time telling the time?
  4. Question time: FAQ


At GoStudent we’re here to help give you perspective on how simple it can be to support your child with basic life skills like telling the time. In a digital age where more and more is done for children rather than them needing to learn, it can be easy to miss a step. Let us guide you through some tips for teaching telling the time.


5 tips to help your child tell the time


Telling the time can be a tricky task to master, especially because it involves some basic math. That’s why clear visual aids are so important. 

Our Telling the Time PDF is here to help you teach your child to learn to read an analog clock. It can be printed and stuck anywhere around your home!

Even if they’re learning to tell the time in school, it’s very important to practice and consolidate their knowledge at home.

Here are our five top tips:


Tip 1: Talk about it

Ensure you keep drawing attention to the time throughout the day, as learning from a sheet or a book isn’t always enough. For example, ‘7 o’clock, it’s time to wake up!’ or ‘there are 15 minutes until bedtime’. 

This will help to make the idea of time more of a reality, and less of a concept. 


Tip 2: Make clocks visible

Our home is full of digital clocks: the microwave, the radio, the television, or the oven. But for your child to get the best start with telling the time it’s important that they can regularly see and decode the traditional analog clock.

Get one of these for the kitchen wall or beside their bed, and spend some time watching the seconds and minutes pass with your children so they can start to get to grips with how long different sections take. 

Keep asking them to say the time back to you that the shorthand means hours and the long hand means minutes, using our Telling the Time PDF to support them to know the right language to use.  


Tip 3: Know the numbers

Five, thirty seconds, forty-five minutes, quarter to… the language of time can get very confusing, especially for new learners!

Time is focused on the number 60 (60 minutes in an hour), and also multiples of 12 (the two halves of the day), with other important numbers in between. Ensure your child can count to 60 before they start tackling how to tell the time. 

For a bonus, practice the five times tables so it becomes easier to tell the time on an analog clock.


Tip 4: Practice outside the home

Children need to learn that learning to tell the time will help them outside, as well as inside the home. Look out for analog clocks so they can practice, but also digital ones. Get them to ‘say what they see’ back to you. 

You could even stretch them to tell you how many minutes are left until the next hour, or hours until the next day. 


Tip 5: Have fun!

There are lots of fun ways you can have fun with telling the time with your kids, especially once the basics are mastered. You could:

  • Say a time of the day and get them to draw the time on a blank clock face 
  • Practice counting down time when baking or cooking
  • Practice counting up to two, three, or four minutes with a timer faced away from you, and see who gets closest 
  • Look for clocks outdoors as well as indoors, which will help children to understand time as something that happens and move forward outside of normal learning environments


The GoStudent Telling the Time PDF


Our simple visual aid is your one-stop-shop for helping your child with telling the time. We’ve split the clock face in half to aid your child in knowing whether to say ‘past’ or ‘to’, which also supports knowing how close we are to the next full hour. 

Knowing the difference between AM and PM is important too, as we use the 1-12 cycle twice. Don’t forget that in the UK it’s standard to use the 24-hour, not 12-hour clock like in countries such as the US. 

You can print out the clock face and draw different times onto it, or download a blank copy onto your tablet to draw on and then erase. The options are endless!


Do kids today have a harder time telling the time?


We indeed come across digital, not analog clocks more regularly in day-to-day life. Whilst rumors suggest that schools are removing the analog clock completely from classrooms, we can tell you that this is false! While there are negative effects of technology, this isn’t one of them.

Most schools will still use analog clocks in classrooms as well as in examination halls. If adults who didn’t have access to digital clocks can now read both, there’s no reason why children and teenagers can’t either. 

By first solidifying the ability to tell the time on an analog clock, using resources like our Telling the Time PDF children can choose later down the line if they prefer a digital clock or using their phone instead.


Question time: FAQ


At what age should a child be able to tell the time?

Children will begin learning to tell the time in school as young as 5 or 6, but won’t have it mastered till at least the ages of 7 or 8.

There’s no need to worry if they aren’t confident by this stage though, as it can take a few more years to keep practicing and being exposed to different times and situations where they need to decode the time for themselves.


How do I help an ESL/ELL child tell the time?

Language-acquisition experts advise that ESL or ELL children use visual aids as much as possible when learning to tell the time, for example by matching a given time to a symbolic clock face.

Our Telling the Time PDF comes in handy here, as it will allow students to visualize, but also have the right language for different times of the day. 


What is the best clock to learn to tell the time with?

You could have guessed it but the best clock to learn to tell the time with is an analog one. 

You’ll want to look for one that:

  • Has big, clear numbers and is easy to read
  • Uses primary colors to distinguish between the numbers, the hands, and the background (these are also really stimulating for young minds!)
  • Has fun characters or images behind them or embedded into the design if your child has a big imagination
  • Makes a sound when the hands reach the next hour, which can be highly supportive and sensory for neurodivergent learners
  • Helps to reinforce the family schedule

Our fantastic tutors can help to support your child with telling the time and can make the learning a part of any other lesson like Math or English. Book a free trial lesson with GoStudent to find the right tutor for you.

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