Preschoolers haven't yet grasped the concept of time, but it's something they begin to learn more about once they hit the classroom. Along with learning the days of the week and months of the year, a preschooler is just beginning to understand the ideas of past, present, and future. Since gaining a sense of time is a gradual process highlighted by a child's everyday experiences, you can help by clarifying and reinforcing the idea of time with the use of concrete examples.
Daytime and Nighttime
When you talk, use explanations that make time concepts more real to your preschooler. For example, distinguish the difference between morning and nighttime by saying that morning is when you get up and have breakfast, and nighttime is when you're tired and go to bed. By this age, your child should understand daytime is when it's light outside and the sun shines, and nighttime is when it's dark and the moon comes out.
Place in Time
Use words like yesterday, today, and tomorrow when you talk. As an example, you could say:
"I'm proud of the beautiful picture you colored in school today."
"You stayed in the lines even better than the picture you colored yesterday."
"I can't wait to see the picture you color tomorrow."
Time is abstract. Therefore, to a preschooler who explores the world by seeing and touching, the idea of yesterday may mean two or three days ago instead of one. Again, relate the concepts of past, present, and future to events that happen in your child's life. For example, "Your knee looks better now than it did yesterday when you fell at the park and bruised it."
Use clear examples to help your child identify with the days of the week. For instance, remind your little one that Wednesday is the day Mommy has to work late. Or, tell your child Saturday is the day when the family is going to visit Grandma and Grandpa.
Kids tend to remember the names of weekdays better when they can associate the day with a particular routine or event. Your little one may connect Sunday with the day Daddy plays baseball at the field in the park. But whatever examples you choose, always refer to the name of the weekday when telling your child what to expect. Include the names of the weekdays and months of the year as part of your preschooler's growing vocabulary.
Months of the Year/Seasons
Use holidays and other special days to help your preschooler learn the months of the year and separate the four seasons. Examples could include descriptions like:
Valentine's Day with its pink and red heart decorations is in February.
March is when the first day of spring arrives. That's the month of your birthday too!
The Easter Bunny comes in April when you help Mommy color eggs.
October is when you help Daddy carve pumpkins and dress up to go trick or treating.
In November, aunts, uncles, and cousins you haven't seen in a while come to the house to eat pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving turkey.
It doesn't matter what illustrations you use. The point is to give your child real-life examples to associate with each month of the year.
When it comes to the seasons, explain that autumn is when the leaves change colors and fall; winter is when it snows; spring is when the weather warms up and the flowers start blooming again; and summer is when the family goes swimming at the lake or on vacation.
For more information about early childhood education, contact The Kiddie Lodge or a similar location.