X’ħin hu?

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - BOOKS -

Author: Maria Fran­calanza and Marisa Khal­ifa Il­lus­trated: Ni­cole Di­a­cono

The con­cept of time is alien to many chil­dren. Be­cause of that, many kinder­gart­ners are ex­tremely anx­ious when it comes to go­ing to school, pre­cisely be­cause they can­not tell for how long they will be sep­a­rated from their par­ent.

Although they can­not tell time, they de­velop a sense of or­der through re­peated rou­tines. Three- and four-year-olds feel se­cure when they fol­low the same time sched­ules daily: get dressed, eat break­fast, ride to school, par­tic­i­pate in class time and then play dur­ing lunch break. Be­cause for them time is in­tan­gi­ble, they be­come aware of the pas­sage of time when the same events start re­oc­cur­ring at spe­cific times dur­ing the day.

X’ħin hu? is the only book in Mal­tese on the mar­ket which aims to tackle early school chil­dren ap­pre­hen­sion. In sim­ple, rhyming text, it tells the story of a boy and a girl who wake up in the morn­ing and pre­pare for school and an hour-by-hour ac­count of what they do at school.

This helps kinder­gart­ners know what time it is and they be­gin to un­der­stand that cer­tain things, like the start and end of school, hap­pen at a de­fined time each day. Both au­thors of X’ħin hu? Maria Fran­calanza and Marisa Khal­ifa are kinder­garten teach­ers. They got the idea to write the book about a year ago dur­ing an open day at their school, the San Ġorġ Qormi Pri­mary School, which is part of the Kulleġġ Sant’In­jazju, which tack­led the theme of time. “On that day we re­alised that in Malta there is a lack of books about stu­dents’ daily rou­tine. The fol­low­ing day we both came back to school bounc­ing rhyming verses off each other – and they found them­selves in a book,” said the au­thors.

San Ġorġ Pri­mary School was a source of in­spi­ra­tion for the au­thors and in fact it features in the il­lus­tra­tions of the book, beau­ti­fully de­picted by Ni­cole Di­a­cono. The il­lus­tra­tor was very care­ful to in­clude the clock, in dif­fer­ent shapes and for­mats, in the draw­ings. “Although preschool­ers can­not re­ally read the clock, they are aware that it is a tool that helps them mea­sure how time passes,” said the au­thors.

The book, which can be read to chil­dren in the class­room or at home, is fully en­dorsed by the Na­tional Lit­er­acy Agency.

‘X’ħin hu?’ is avail­abe for sale from all book­shops or di­rectly on­line from www.mer­lin­pub­lish­ers.com

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