Homeschool,  School tips and Tricks,  Special Needs

How to teach TIME


Yes, it can be done.  Especially if you are dealing with your special needs child, it’s best to break time down step by step by step by step…you get the idea.  Actually, it’s a good idea for any child, but Aspies…a  certain must!

So, first things first,

STEP 1 – The Basics of Time

Night / Day

 1 Day = 24 Hours

1 Hour = 60 minutes

1 Minute = 60 seconds

Learn this off by heart. The relationship between seconds and minutes may not be made that easily.  Using visuals always helps.  As many ways as you can make an association or relationship between the two, do so.  Here’s a lovely clock with colours to give you an idea. 

And here’s a pdf black and white clock to download, you, or your child can decorate.

Get them to count seconds to 1 minute.  In the same way, 60 minutes = 1 hour, and 24 hours = 1 whole day.

STEP 2 – Skip counting in 5

So, skip counting in 5 is rather important here.  Make sure your child can skip count in 5’s, it makes it so much easier to figure out minutes.

STEP 3 – Pizza Related Fractions

Next…basic fractions.


Yup, fractions are important in teaching time. Why?

What’s half past 6?  What’s quarter past 2? What’s quarter to 12? See…fractions.

The best and yummiest way to teach fractions is through eating a pizza … win-win.

So what we have is a whole pizza, if you cut it down the middle you have 2 x ½, one for you and one for me, but what if there’s 4 people? If you cut the pizza in half again, you have  4 x ¼ pizza slices.  Yum.

PS, you may need to eat several pizzas to get this point through. YAY…

Here’s some pics to help:

“So” you say, “the clock works the same way as pizza…” make a clock.  Divide it in half, and then in quarters.  So if going around the clock once is 60 minutes, then a quarter way is 15 minutes, half way is 30 minutes etc.

STEP 4 – Time for Time

Right, finally time for time.  The best way to incorporate teaching time, is to merge it with something your child will know.

So the little thick arrow is for the hour (he is round and fat like an oooo), the long skinny arrow is for the minutes, all 60 of them in an hour.

So breakfast is normally at, for example, 9am.  So, let’s look at the time on the clock when you have breakfast.  Where is the minute hand pointing to?  Where is the hour hand pointing to? Oh, and how long does it take you to have breakfast, should we time it?  Let’s see.

What time is ballet, baseball, or swimming, or whatever other activities might be a regular thing in their lives.  The more you can connect time with them personally, the more they have an interest in learning about it, and the more it’ll stick.  Make it personal.

Breaking this complex idea down step by step is a good way to help your child understand time, not just being able to read time on a clock or watch or phone, but to understand intrinsically what it’s about.

Time for GOOD LUCK!

My name is Lee-Anne. I am a homeschool mom to 2 children, and together with my husband have been homeschooling for 7 years.

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