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Sep 25, 2010

Concept of time at 2.5 years

I know I said it before, but I love the 2-year old phase. Daniel is learning so much every day and I find it fascinating. A big and challenging topic right now is the concept of time. It is hard, no doubt!

Daniel is at the point where he understands that some things happened in the past, some things happen now and some will take place in the future. He also asks a lot of questions about time. However, there is little understanding of the length of time and any of the subtleties.

Everything that happened in the past is described as "yesterday" even if it was last year. Tomorrow means everything from "in 5 minutes" to "next week". When I say: "tomorrow, we are going to xxx", Daniel typically gets up, ready to go, asking: "Are we going now?" When I ask, "what did you do today", he might tell me about something he did 2 weeks ago.
Recently, Daniel started being interested in Halloween and we already bought his costume. I drew a calendar to show him how long we still need to wait until we celebrate Halloween. It was a full page. I also explained that he needed to go through 6 swimming classes before it was Halloween time (we registered him to swim classes every Sunday now). I described other things we needed to do before Halloween (e.g. a friend's birthday, a trip, a special weekend) And yet, every day, Daniel asks if today is Halloween! Mom-Fail!

However, the encouraging thing is that Daniel is starting to remember situations that belong to the same time frame, or that follow each other. For instance, I explained to him that his birthday (January 14) is in the winter (when it's cold), after Santa comes. The other day, we were talking about the fact that the weather was getting cooler. And right away, Daniel commented that it would soon be very cold, then Santa would come, and eventually his birthday.

I had also explained to Daniel that Charlotte couldn't eat solid food as a newborn, but that, when she grew older (sometimes after our Europe trip), she will start eating solids. On the day we came back from vacation, Daniel asked if Charlotte would eat bananas now. He remembered the sequence!

These examples are definitely signs of progress, and I acknowledge that learning the concept of time is very difficult. I am wondering at what age kids understand it all. Does anyone have any tip to help kids make sense of it?

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