Young children’s understandings of clocks at the start of school

Amy MacDonald, Steve Murphy

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Time is an essential construct for understanding our everyday lives and the wider world; however, it is commonly seen as a difficult topic by teachers and children throughout primary school. There is limited research into children’s learning about time, and in particular, concerning young children’s understandings of clocks. This study examines the extent to which children are able to draw the structural features of a clock at the start of school. The drawings were produced by 132 Kindergarten children in their first six weeks of primary school. The drawings showed that the majority of the children started school with the ability to represent the structural features of a clock (numbers, hands, partitioning). Moreover, unlike previous studies, our analysis suggests that children’s ability to represent clock structure does not progress sequentially. Rather, the drawings suggest that different children attend to different features of clocks, and thus have different developmental journeys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2020


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