Mathematics Foundation: 5 - Measurement

Topic: M5.1 - Understanding concepts of time

People follow a schedule that is dictated by their responsibilities or a need to have structure. Children also crave routines, but they are not born with the sense of time. The concept of time is abstract to children and intentional support is needed to introduce it.

Understanding the concept of time leads to:
*A beginning understanding that time is sequential
*The ability to conceptualize before and after and think about future and past events
*A beginning understanding of the past vs. distant past, and the future vs. distant future

Looking Ahead to Kindergarten Family Engagement Special Populations
In kindergarten, students will work to understand concepts of time including: morning, afternoon, evening, today, yesterday, tomorrow, day, week, month and year. They will also understand that clocks and calendars are tools that measure time (K.M.2). Encourage families to:

*Discuss the day’s upcoming events with their child (e.g. "We will leave for school after we have breakfast and brush our teeth.").
*Use words to indicate time such as yesterday, today and tomorrow when they are talking with their child.
*Talk with their child about their weekly schedule (e.g. “We go to gymnastics on Tuesday, which is tomorrow.”).

Educators can:

*Frequently walk with children to the picture schedule to remember, see, and touch where we are in the day and what comes next.
*For DLL, discuss time in both English and the child's native language pairing the native words with English words to support understanding.

Powerful Practices
Across all developmental stages, educators can:

*Have consistent routines and daily schedules in place, and share with families the importance of a daily routine, including how to talk about it with their child.
*Consider using a visual schedule in a linear format, referring back to it frequently throughout the day.
*Take frequent photographs of events, projects, or field trips, then invite the children to help select photos for a program journal or display to show sequence. Take dictation so children and families can revisit the experience.
*Provide games for children to begin to get a feel for the length of various units of time and the vocabulary associated with them (e.g. children might guess how many seconds it takes to walk from one side of the playground to the other while someone times them).
*Give children ample time to prepare for transitions and consider using visual timers (e.g. “We are going outside in 5 minutes” or using an hourglass timer.).


Describe daily caregiving routines and ask the infant for their participation (e.g. “It’s time to change your diaper. Can you help by lifting your legs?”)

Younger Toddler
Establish and maintain a consistent daily schedule

Create a visual of your daily schedule for the child to reference

Older Toddler
Create tools to help children review routines (e.g. hand washing posters, picture schedules)

Help children through familiar transition by giving clear two-step directions (e.g. “Get a book then lay on your cot” or “Wash your hands then sit at the table.” )

Introduce books and songs with a time or sequence theme (e.g. The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Going On A Bear Hunt)

Younger Preschool
Provide language exposure to concepts of time (i.e. tomorrow, morning, afternoon, earlier, later)

Utilize time limit cues throughout the day to support transitions (e.g. “We will clean up in 5 minutes.”)

Make a countdown paper chain to countdown to special days, and let children tear off a link each day

Read books with a time or sequence theme, (e.g. The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly)

Older Preschool
Engage children in conversation around concepts of time

Engage children in project work that requires using the calendar as a tool, planning for future events or keeping a record of events

Ask children questions about the daily schedule, (e.g. “If we have snack at 9 and go outside at 10, which one comes first?”)

Make time telling tools (e.g. clocks, watches, and calendars) available for dramatic play