How to read a clock

As a child, I really struggled with reading the time. I remember that my mom bought me a practice clock with which she tried to teach me the time. She would always move the clock’s hour and minute hand around and then ask me what time it would be. After staring at the clock for several minutes, I eventually could figure out the time, but it would always take me longer than most people.

Now, as a Highschool student, I am pretty good at reading a clock. However, it sometimes still takes me a tiny bit longer than others but overall I managed to completely grasp the concept.

I can remember, that when I was a child, I got a stunning silver wristwatch for my birthday, which I absolutely adored; however, whenever people asked me whether I could tell them what time it was, I automatically said that my watch is still set in a different time zone and that it doesn’t work or I would show them my watch and make them read the time instead of actually answering myself.

Thankfully today, everybody has phones with them all the time. I hardly ever use my watch anymore to read the time because I automatically check my phone instead.
However, I still believe, that it is extreamely important to know the clock properly, especially as an dyslexic, because one can not always rely on their phone for the time.

Here are some steps that my mom taught me as a kid that really helped me understand the concept of time and how to read a clock. As a dyslexic person myself, I would highly recommend this to others who are struggling to learn to read the time.

Step 1)

Understanding the concept of time 

Especially when you want to teach dyslexic children to read the time, the number one step is to explain that the day has 24 hours total, which we count into two 12 hour halves. 

Step 2) 

Understanding what “clockwise” means

Whenever people play a board game with me and say we will play in clockwise or anti-clockwise order, it always takes me a second to figure out which direction they are talking about. Dyslexics have a hard time distinguishing left from right, and up from down, so it only is natural that navigating a clock can be confusing. But this concept is super important when understanding the concept of time.

Another good tip that helps children get familiar with the concept that I saw online (Ladder Learning Services LLC) is making children practice drawing circles only clockwise. Also, when playing card games, it is recommended that you only play in clockwise order to make it natural for children and practice the concept!

Step 3)

Distinguishing the “Big Hand” from the “Small Hand” 

After grasping the first two steps, what comes next is making children familiar with the two different hands. It is super important to make the differences very clear in order to avoid confusion later. 

First, start with the hour hand. Explain that:

  • the hour hand comes to Frist when reading the time
  • the hour hand is the smaller hand
  • the hour hand moves a lot slower than the minute hand

Then explain that the minute hand:

  • come second when reading the time
  • is a lot longer than the hour hand 
  • moves a lot faster than the hour hand

One essential concept that needs to be made clear to dyslexic students is that the hour hand MOVES during the hour (so slowly it is hard to see)… it may or may not be pointing close to the number of the actual hour. Think about where the hour hand is for the time 4:59– it’s pointing right at the 5. The Ladder Learning Services “LLC” suggest that one way to practice this concept is to use a geared clock to show that the hour hand moves. A child will not get much practice if you use a teaching clock without gears!

Step 4)

Practice, Practice, Practice

Everybody know that practice makes perfect, and in this case there’s no exception. In order to make dyslexic children really solidify this concept, it is absolutely necessary to make them read the clock as often as possible. When I was a child, My mom would make me read the clock everywhere we went until it came completely natural to me.

When you have a difficult concept, never underestimate the amount of practice that it can take for the skill to become automatic. The more practice a child has access to, the more likely the concept will stick and that reading an analog clock will become a life-long skill that student can use.

Another way to get children to read the clock better is to get a fun practice clock.

Here is the clock that I had as a kid which helped me a lot with practicing.

You can find the link on amazon under:

In addition:

Here are some great video which explain how to read the time from an analog clock which you can also find on the LLC website under

These videos are great for older students too!


Bray, Dite. “Dyslexia Reading a Clock – Multisensory Monday.” Ladder Learning Services LLC, 11 Jan. 2016,