How to tell the time is one of those core skills that many parents feel they ought to pass on to their children, along with how to ride a bike, swim and tie your shoelaces.
But how exactly do you go about teaching your child to tell the time? I made a few half-hearted attempts, but gave up and left teaching this stuff to school. It felt like a bit of a cop out. Yes, I know that many clocks are digital nowadays, but this is still a life skill worth mastering.
Now a new system called Aramazu has been developed to teach children how to tell the time. It includes an easy to follow set of books, and a specially illustrated watch and clock.
We were sent the Aramazu system, and when we were snowed in recently and school was closed, I took the opportunity to use it to teach my six-year-old son how to tell the time. Here's how we got on:
My son is one of those people who can take a while to get to grips with new concepts, so I was surprised how quickly he responded to this. I think that because we were reading the book together and discussing the illustrations, he felt more in control and open to grasping the concept. But this does seem to be a system that works quickly: Primary Times ran a trial of the system last July with 30 families, and 85 of those within one hour.
The system works through careful use of illustration, which likens passing time to climbing a mountain. It uses concepts and characters that young children can relate to easily.
After going through the books, we put the Aramazu clock (shown above) on my son's bedroom wall. A small but vital point about this clock is that it doesn't tick. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a clock for a child's bedroom that doesn't tick. And if they're not used to the sound of a clock ticking then introducing one can be quite disturbing for them. But I really believe that having a clock in your child's bedroom will help them to tell the time, as it's on hand when you need to convince them that it's time to get up or go to bed. And a week on, my son is now telling me what time it is. So on our evidence, this seems to be a system that works.
The range also includes a wristwatch, which is a mini version of the main clock face, so children can become familiar with the system. Its publishers claim that the system is particularly good for dyslexic children.
Books start at £5.99, and the wall clock is around £15.