by Rynette R. Kjesbo, M.S., CCC-SLP and Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
Timers are devices that keep track of a certain amount of time. You “set”
a timer to count down and then alert you when time is up. To let you know that time
has run out, the timer often beeps several times. Visual timers are a specific
type of timer. Visual timers allow you to “see” the movement of time through clear,
visual signals. Visual timers include sand timers where sand falls in an
hourglass and Time Timers® where a colored dial or disc disappears
as time passes.
Visual timers are effective tools to use in school. Educators can use these timers
to help students manage their time for tests, projects, and assignments, as well
as help them plan for the remaining amount of time before they have to transition
(move on) to something else. At home, you can use visual timers to help your children
move along with a task or chore, or even to set a specific time for activities like
reading or quickly answering questions when playing board games.
Why Use Visual Timers?
Visual timers have many uses and benefits. They can:
- Give children an understanding of time concepts without them having to be able to
tell time. When using a visual timer, children can see the time remaining without
having to figure out the hands on a clock—brushing their teeth for two to three
minutes, for example.
- Teach the concept of “How much longer?” Children can look at a visual timer and
know for themselves “how much longer” without having to ask—knowing they have only
a few minutes left to clean up their rooms, for example.
- Help children who have difficulty moving from one activity to another to anticipate
and be ready for the change. If children know that an activity is almost over, they
can begin to prepare to switch to a new activity—putting away an assignment and
getting ready to go to lunch, for example.
- Improve children’s focus on tasks and activities. When they complete an activity,
using a visual timer, children can see time passing and can use their time better—double-checking
their answers on a test before the five minutes left are up, for example.