So many of our students have little to no sense of time. I have worked with many students that just don’t feel 10 seconds, 5 minutes, an hour. They are missing an internal clock. The only way I could communicate about time with one student was to use his favorite 30 minute TV shows as reference.
How long before we go to the gym?
About 2 episodes of Ed, Edd n Eddy.
Yep, with commercials.
My middle son lacks this internal clock and it is crazy-making for his father and me. Every morning is hell. He is always late. He cannot estimate how long it takes to do anything.
I think it is very important to help kids feel time at a base or primal level. It’s a critical sense to develop as our daily lives run by the clock, by the passage of time. It alarms me when kids have not even developed a sense of general time based on where the sun is in the sky. It means they are not receiving and processing a very basic sensory stimulation, that they are disconnected from this sort of environmental clue. Yikes. No wonder they appear out of sync.
Now, I am not talking about time as in giving kids transition warnings. This is much more basic. I am talking about helping kids develop a sense of the passage of time so they can better plan and navigate through a day, in and out of school.
Following are two ways that have effectively helped students develop this sense of time. Unfortunately, my own kid has not been responsive. Don’t you hate that? I mean I claim to be an expert of sorts on such matters, but under my own roof, not so much.
Like sand through an hour glass, these are the days of our lives,,,,
No bells, no whistles. Small and familiar to most kids as these timers are often part of board games. This is good for quiet visual reminders when you need a timer of short duration. I have started with these hourglass timers with many students. We play a game where I flip the timer behind a standing pocket folder and have the students raise their hands when they think the time has run out. If using a 1 minute timer, we talk a lot about what can be done in a minute, how long it takes to do certain daily tasks as compared to the passage of 1 minute. We actually do simple daily tasks and time how long they take to complete. When this activity is repeated often enough and in a variety of environments, students begin to internalize what 1 minute feels like. I have been known to take a timer to the cafeteria and play this game while the students eat. They love it.
If your student is responsive to a one minute sand timer I recommend progressing to a timer that lasts longer and keep increasing as each time increment is mastered.
The variety is overwhelming. I prefer the traditional version because it closely resembles the face of a clock. They often tic, are very easy to read. I like the ones that move one second at a time rather than ones in which the hand sweeps around in a continuous movement. The more sensory input, the better. It’s very effective when the student controls it. You can simply have them start the clock and when it gets to 60 seconds they stop it. Doing this over and over again allows students to commit it to motor memory and we know how powerful that can be.
I stay away from the digital and electronic versions. I just don’t get the same results with those.
Developing an internal sense of time takes repetition, opportunities to practice in many environments during a variety of activities. Be systematic. Start small and be consistent. Keep it very simple at first. When internalized in just one set of circumstances, change just one variable to progress. Start in the same location at the same time of day. Continue without changing anything until you feel your student has mastered it. Then change just one variable. Don’t change time of day and location at the same time. Pick one and stick with it.
It is important to know your students, how they process sensory input, what stimuli they most positively respond to. Observe closely and use that feedback as your guide. If one minute is too long, back up and start where the student is able to start. Developing internal sense of time requires patience and persistence.
It takes time……