Math Background

Time: Overview

Time. To most of us, it means clocks and schedules, hours and minutes. But at a kindergartener's level, time is about morning and night, longer and shorter, days of the week, and, eventually, relating numbers on the clock to events in daily life.

Time is an abstract concept. It is a way of measuring how long events take to occur. Even young children realize that some things take longer to do than others. It takes longer to make a cake than to eat a piece of cake. It takes longer to walk to school than to run. These basic ideas of longer and shorter time are key to understanding hours and minutes as well as elapsed time.

Time also measures the changes we see every day, such as the cycle of morning, afternoon, and evening. Some activities happen in the daytime and some at night. Identifying times of day and associating events with those times establishes basic reference points for our sense of passing time.

The 24-hour day and 7-day week are conventions, invented by humans, based on the earth's rotation and revolution around the sun. These conventions make it possible for all people to identify the passing of time in the same way. Clocks and calendars are tools that help us keep track of the passage of time, and reading these tools is a vital skill for everyday life. It's important to learn to associate events with times of day and days of the week; these associations determine our framework for keeping track of time.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K