Have you ever wondered how to introduce the clock in your classroom? Below is a statement from the Scientific Pedagogy Group of the Association Montessori International to clarify the use of the clock in the Children's House. Following it, there is a link to a document that details how MNW introduces the clock (and calendar) in our Primary teacher training courses.
What humans call ‘time’ is an experience grounded in the concrete sensorial world of nature, in observable patterns of natural phenomena. These patterns are perceived through the body-based senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste), then organized through reason and the imagination into a mathematical system. Different groups of humans create different systems for accommodating the patterns called time. These systems are managed and transmitted as patterns of culture.
Time, then, is an aspect of human history and like other cultural subjects has an important place in a Montessori Children’s House – the same place as botany, zoology, geography, music, art and any other knowledge organized in the supra-nature. Our goal is to provide a guide for cultural transmission and establish an accurate and reliable foundation for aware, deliberate exploration in the Second Plane. As with those other ‘subjects’, we do this best through concrete, sensorial experience connected with spoken language.
Through true stories, conversation, books, poetry, songs and question games, we can use, introduce and clarify time-based vocabulary for even the youngest children. In the Mathematics area, an older child learns the mathematical language needed for ‘telling time’ – such as the counting numbers, their numeric symbols, skip counting, fractions, and possibly roman numerals. A special material for ‘teaching’ the clock is not necessary – Three Period Lessons with a working analog clock can introduce hour, minute and second hands, other parts of the clock, and the mental techniques for translating hand movements, hatch marks and numerals into an accurate reading of time. This clock can also be a focus for silence activities through which children experience a minute, two minutes, etc. Children who are reading can label the parts of the clock; older children can record the amount of time they spend on a particular activity; and the correlation between analog and digital displays of time can be made by direct comparison.
The preparations which create necessary readiness will determine the appropriate age for introducing activities related to time. From this perspective, other ideas for exploring a culture’s system for organizing time will present themselves, and similar explorations can occur around a culture’s calendar.