"Mommy is older than Grandpa. I know because she is taller."

"Time goes fast when I'm playing and slow when I have to wait.""Time is invisible. It's like air. You can't see it or hear it, but you can use it or waste it."

"People need to be home on time."

Crayola Kids magazine suggests that these quotes from children's discussions of time may leave you wondering if kids understand time. They don't!

"For young children, time consists of `now' and `then.' `Then' is anything past or future that isn't happening right now," says Kenneth Bower, Ph.D., associate professor of education at the University of Charleston, S.C. "Kids can't differentiate between two weeks ago and two months ago. For them, both describe `a long time ago.' "

Many young children (under the age of 7) believe "yesterday" refers to any past event and "tomorrow" is any event in the future. Others confuse the entire concept, saying, "I'm going to the doctor after lunch yesterday."

Time consists of two aspects - the sequence of events and the duration or length of time intervals. Understanding of sequence comes first.

Children understand best what they have experienced personally. Some can tell you details in proper sequence about an experience but have no concept of how long ago it occurred.

Because of their limited understanding of time, children can't be expected to understand historical events in terms of time. If the dinosaurs lived a long time ago and Grandpa went to school a long time ago, a child may believe the two events happened in the same vague time period.

Kids also confuse age with size, believing that a person who is bigger is older. Some youngsters think that when people stop growing, they stop aging.

Parents often respond to a child's request for help by saying, "I'll be there in a minute," or "I'll be there soon." In 10 seconds, the child pleads, "Will you help me now?"

Bower explains, "From a child's perspective, `a minute' and `soon' are the same as an eternity. He is certain `a minute' has passed and `soon' must be here." Bower suggests that parents avoid using possibly confusing time references. "A better answer might be, `I'll be there after I finish putting away the dishes.' "

Help children develop time concepts by recording the events in their lives. Keep a family journal of the best thing that happens each day. At the end of the year it's a reminder of the positive way time is spent.