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7 ways to motivate your kids to learn how to tell time

When she's not writing, Claire Gillespie can most often be found wiping snotty noses, picking up Lego, taking photos of her cat or doing headstands.

A little motivation goes a long way when it comes to teaching children to tell time

The concept of time is first introduced to most kids in kindergarten, but it's not until age 7 or 8 that they really feel confident reading a clock. These days, we can hardly blame them for lacking the motivation to read an analog clock. They are surrounded by digital clocks, from their iPods and tablets to microwaves and other household appliances.

So how do we motivate our kids to tell time when there's really no desperate need for them to master this skill?

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1. Equate telling time to independence

Elementary school kids are desperate for more independence. Use this to your advantage when encouraging your child to learn to tell time. By making it their responsibility to determine when it's time to do the things they enjoy, such as go to a swimming lesson or on a play date, they'll quickly learn the benefits of being able to read a clock.

2. Give the gift of time

As soon as my daughter got her very own sparkly purple watch, her time-telling skills improved. Let your child pick out an inexpensive "grown-up" analog watch. The more they look at it, the faster their clock-reading skills will improve. It also means you can ask them the time several times a day without having to be anywhere near an analog clock.

3. Relate time to family life

Ask your child questions that they can see the point of, such as working out what time it will be when a certain activity is over. Focusing on scenarios that have some element of reward for them will be extra motivation, such as asking them, "If this cake takes 40 minutes to bake, what time will it be ready for us to eat?" or "If your favorite program starts in 20 minutes, what time does it start?"

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4. Play o'clock time bingo

Turn telling time into a game to keep your kids interested. For o'clock time bingo, create cards with analog clock faces displaying different times and use them to play bingo in the traditional way. When your child has mastered the "o'clock," add in "half past o'clock," then a wider range of times. And of course, treats for the winners always help.

5. Prove how important telling time is

Over the course of a day, remind your child every time it's necessary to tell time. When they begin to grasp how much daily life relies on being on time – for school, work, appointments and activities — they should be motivated to practice clock-reading more.

6. Let your kid make the rules (occasionally!) 

Pick an evening each week and let your child set their own schedule. They can decide when to eat dinner, when to do homework, when to have a bath and when to go to bed provided they keep their eye on the clock and let you know when it's time to do something.

7. Make your own clocks

Creative kids will love making their own analog paper clocks. Let them use whatever materials and colors they like and help them attach a big and small hand to the center to finish it off. Once you have your amazing personalized clock, spend some time setting the hands to different times and encourage your child to tell time.

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Telling time is one of those lessons we can't leave entirely up to our children's teachers. To help your kid nail clock reading, you need to put in the time at home. But by making it interesting and fun for both of you, it shouldn't feel like too much of a chore.

A little motivation goes a long way when it comes to teaching children to tell time
Image: Gabriela Arellano/SheKnows

This post was sponsored by Flik Flak.

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