Friday, May 13, 2011
You Need Another Reference
The other day, B announced that he could keep a balloon in the air by swatting at it for 10 minutes without letting it hit the ground. I suggested that was a pretty long time and he might want to start a little easier. He asked the question that so many parents have tried to explain accurately: “How long is it?” I’ve tried things like, “As long as it takes to drive to the library,” “Long enough to sing 4 or 5 Wiggles songs,” and even, “About as long as it takes to make macaroni and cheese.” But on this particular day, my response was, “Long enough to count to 600.” So of course, he wants ME to count to 600 while he swats at the balloon. No, thanks. It’s moments like these that we realize just how hard it is for our toddlers and preschoolers to develop an accurate concept of time. They certainly won’t have it down before kindergarten; in fact they’ll likely continue to hone this cognitive skill well into elementary school. Gains in mathematical understanding help with the short term measurements, but concepts of months and years and generations are still challenging. (By the way, I set the kitchen timer rather than counting, and he tired out before the 10 minute mark but definitely got a work-out!)
Establishing a Context
Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades. For some additional time-themed books and activities, check out Scholastic’s Ages and Stages article.