In the age of smart phones and tablets, it’s no wonder children are more familiar with using a digital clock to tell the time than an analogue one. But now schools are considering removing clocks from exam halls because teens are unable to tell how much time they have left. So is this becoming a problem?
A head teachers’ union has said instead, schools will install digital devices so kids don’t have to put their hand up to find out what the time is. “The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) told The Telegraph. “Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”
He added that he hopes young children coming up into secondary school will be taught to read clocks. So should we be ensuring can tell the time from an early age?
“Telling the time is a basic life skill that children should learn,” argued Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting site ChannelMum.com. “As children grow up surrounded by devices using the digital clock it is definitely making it harder, but certainly not impossible.”
Mum Charlie Beswick, a former primary school teacher and current secondary school teacher, says she’s seen firsthand how kids are struggling with analogue clocks. “When I taught at primary school some children who struggled with basic number work were great at time,” she said. “Now, some Year 9 pupils I teach can’t tell the time.” Despite this, she thinks it’s really important, adding that she has taught her young son to tell the time: “It’s so important.”
And another mum, Laura Turner, agreed, adding: “My son is three and I will start to teach him before he goes to school - I think it’s down to parents to make sure!”
Freegard said that being able to tell analogue time is essential for later life, especially if kids want to travel as it’s used worldwide and at a younger age it regularly features on exam questions.
How to teach your kids to tell the time:
One option is to sit down with a watch or clock - such as this great wooden one - to go through time-telling, you could also try to find online resources that make things a little easier.
:: Time Monsters is a good website using animations, which separates out teaching kids in three stages: 1) hands on the clock; 2) to and past; and 3) numbers on the clock
:: BBC Bitesize has an interactive site on how to tell the time, full of animations and videos appealing to kids.
:: Oxford Owl also has online resources for parents to help kids learn the time, such as a ‘telling the time’ activity sheet and ‘create your own clock’. They also have tips online for parents, including drawing attention to time day-to-day (mention the time at different points in the day such as “It’s 5 o’clock, time for tea”) and also to make sure your child is confident with numbers and counting from 1-60.