HomedyslexiaDyslexia Problems – Reading Clocks

Last week, I was thinking about how much I needed to get my sleep schedule back in shape, so I could be more productive during the day. I happened to look up at my soul sucking cat clock and stared blankly for a while.

Cute as this guy is,
he’s freaked out at least
one guest.

No, the clock hadn’t taken my soul or anything like that. I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell what time it was. It was either edging closer to 7:55, or 10:40. I had to think back to see if I’d fed the cats already, which meant that it was after 8:00, so that meant I should probably get my tail in bed. That didn’t happen. Coffee is a good friend in the mornings. Anyway, it’s been quite a while since that’s happened to me.

One of the common, though lesser known, problems many dyslexic kids face is in learning how to read clocks. Some kids might have more issues with analog clock faces or digital clocks, while others have just as many issues with both.

Growing up, I remember having issues with both, for whatever reason. Many digital clocks make sense, especially when it’s early in the morning and there are 2s and 5s involved, but it took me a while to figure out why so many analog clocks gave me grief.

For me, anyway, it’s a combination of the clock’s design, and my left-right issues. If the hands look similar or are almost the same length, as they are with the pictured cat clock, it gets hard to differentiate between hour and minute hand. The clock face plays a role, too. I find it harder to read clocks with non-letter hour markers or when the numbers are written in certain fonts.

There are quite a few methods of learning out there, some of which are suggested in this entry of Dyslexia Blog.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve started equating clocks with pie charts. When I picture what a particular time looks like on an analog clock in my mind, I tend to see first a blank clock face. A line then appears from the 12 down to the center point, which then turns into a “slice” to designate the hour. If there are minutes, a second, smaller slice appears within the first one and moves to the minute position.

The below image is something like what I see when I try visualizing 4:10.

Original image was public domain. The pink and red are results of my “awesome” photo shop skills.

Now, I realize this method has its shortcomings, since the hour hand tends to move closer to the next number as the minute hand circles the clock. It would also probably make more sense if the bigger slice represented minutes, and maybe there should be some sort of AM/PM indicator. Regardless, that’s just how the issue resolved itself in my head.

However, this method might be a good way to help teach about the concepts of “half past”, “quarter to” and that sort of thing.

After kicking around the internet a little bit, I also found a few examples of using this method as an organizational aid. You can find better examples of this concept here. That page also has some interesting suggestions about how to use pie graph clocks beyond time management.

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