Investigation of the Way Kindergarten Teachers Handle Time Concepts

Ozlem Dogan-Temur and Hatice Zeynep Inan
Dumlupinar University, Faculty of Education, TURKEY

Problem Statement: Although time concepts are abstract, teachers think that it is necessary for children to understand some concepts related to time. In order to continue daily life and accomplish their work at school, children need to acquire some time-related concepts and behave accordingly.
Purpose of Study: The aim of the current research is to examine teachers’ experiences with teaching children time concepts in a kindergarten classroom. The study focuses on, more specifically, what concepts they teach, what concepts are easy or difficult for children, in what order they teach future, present and past tense, what instructional strategies they use, what other concepts they relate to temporal knowledge, and what materials they use in teaching time concepts.
Methods: The study was conducted in several different kindergarten classes in public/private elementary schools and pre-school education centers in central Kutahya, and involved 16 kindergarten teachers working in central Kutahya, Turkey. The researchers utilized a qualitative research method, namely phenomenography, to collect in-depth data and to analyze the data.
Findings: The results of the research showed that teachers teach 19 different categories of time concepts. They stated that they teach developmentally appropriate units of time. On the other hand, there are also some teachers who have lower or higher expectations for kindergartners. Moreover, teachers think that the easiest time concepts for kindergartners are morning, noon and evening and the present tense. On the other hand, the teachers stated that there are some concepts that children have difficulty in learning, especially past tense and future tense. Furthermore, the research shows that teachers mostly use the technique of asking questions in time-concept teaching. The research also shows that the teachers had difficulty in answering the question “What other concepts do you use in teaching time concepts?” In terms of the materials teachers use, the research shows that teachers use a variety of materials, but do not make much use of technology in teaching time concepts.
Conclusions: The current research shows that teachers are cognizant of the importance of teaching time concepts, what kinds of difficulties children might have, and what concepts are easier for them to learn. The study shows that teachers teach their children time concepts and work on the following goal, the 17th Turkish language objective — “They can use time concepts/language of time properly.” However, they do not mention much about the array of objectives and gains related to time-concept education for kindergartners.
Keywords: Time concepts, kindergarten, teacher, qualitative, phenomenography.