The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people.(BG 11.32)
The concept and understanding of time gives children more control of their lives and lays the foundation for all future planning and organization. The earlier children are introduced to time the easier it becomes for them to manage themselves.
I have observed that behaviour issues often come up because young children lack an awareness of time. For example, every monday you have to go to school – but a child may throw up a tantrum to get ready because they are unaware of the reality of monday. These kind of behaviours happen at micro and macro levels. For eg. children struggle to transition between activities- they want to keep on playing and refuse to sit down to eat. Or in the mornings, they refuse to take a bath or keep bathing forever. When time is introduced, children know what to expect and are more mentally prepared for forthcoming situations. Transitions between activities can also be better managed by giving children a choice(Would you like to eat now or in 5 minutes) or a warning(We need to leave in 5 minutes. Please pack up.)
Our class calendar helps children become aware of the macro concept – days and dates. This calendar was introduced at the start of term itself. They made the calendar themselves by cutting and pasting together pictures from old Krishna calendars. At the start of each day, we talk about what day it is and change the day and date labels. (These pieces are detachable, stuck on by blue tag). We may also have some discussions on what is to happen that day – for e.g. Monday – we learn a new shloka, or Thursday – we go to park. This is to make children aware that different things happen on different days. Children will also naturally learn the cyclic order of days through such discussions.We may also talk about different events in the month – birthdays, upcoming festivals etc
We also discuss the weather. I ask the children to look out of the window and observe whether it is sunny, rainy, cloudy, cold etc. Thus they know what kind of a ‘day’ it is – and how that might affect their behaviour. (Cold day – wear a jacket etc.)
For the micro level, I always use the word time. It is playing time, it is reading time etc. Its amazing how children pick up this word so quickly and attempt to self-regulate (or more often regulate dawdling peers – “Stop playing – it is reading time.”) If some of the children recognize numbers – I point to the large wall clock and say – “We will start craft when the big hand reaches 9) For those who dont understand numbers, hour glasses and timers are a great way to teach about intervals – you need to stop when all the sand falls down. We have a lovely 3 piece hour glass that measures time in 1,3, and 5 minute intervals – great way to make transitions smoother.
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Just giving 5 minutes each day to the discussion on time helps all of us utilise our class time better!