By: Jenette Dean
Early Childhood Manager
Young children truly have a difficult time understanding how many days until a special holiday like Christmas or their birthday. Parents often express frustration with their child’s confusion and difficulty waiting for a special event. One way I like to talk to children about days is to say, “It takes two or four sleeps before it is your special day.” Children seem to understand this concept of “sleeps” before they understand the abstract concept of tomorrow.
A fun and concrete way to help your child countdown for a special day is to make a paper chain with a link for each day until the special event. You can help them tear off one link at bedtime and tell them how many more “sleeps” they need to wait. You could do this for a holiday, vacation, birthday or countdown until Grandma comes. Young children can only think in concrete ways.
Another good method of counting days until an event is using brown lunch bags. You can put a small gift or activity in each bag and let your child open one bag per day until the big awaited event. I am going to save this idea for the time when I eventually have grandchildren. I think I could have as much fun filling the bags as a child could have opening them.
Do you have a suggestion on how to help children understand the concept of time? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.