The brain has chronosensors responsible for gathering chronological types of information from other senses. Chronosensors are responsible for measuring the passing of time when a person progresses through an activity. They continuously obtain and interpret information of the physical position of the sun via the eyes to instil a feeling of time passed. They also obtain information from the ears to inform the brain about the time of the day sounds. The body, too, informs the chronosensors on, for example, the outside temperature as it relates to the time of the day.
All these provide for “getting a sense of time” or “having a sense of passing of time”. Chronosensors can be tricked, cheated or misled. For example, if a task is not enjoyable, the chronosensors omit to source information from the other senses and it feels like it is taking forever, while it feels as if time is flying when one is busy with a task one enjoys.
The functioning of the senses can be explained with an example from an early childhood development point of view: a baby can be introduced to blowing a simple plastic flute at the age of 11 months. Blowing a flute requires a balanced involvement of proprioception, chronoception, and the auditory and visual senses. When blowing longer and shorter sounds, the chronoception sense plays a leading role, which gives the baby a sense of time. When this is integrated with clapping hands, songs and time-based games like skipping, it enhances the child’s chronoliteracy. When chronoception is continuously enhanced over the next years, such a child has an advantage in terms of chrono-literacy at an early age. This enables the child to distinguish between today, yesterday and the day before yesterday, tomorrow and so on, as well as knowing when a friend’s age is closer to six years than to five years. Analogue clock reading in lower grades is more than reading the positions of the hour and minute hands; it is about benchmarking clock reading against the chronoception sense’s prior knowledge, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner times. It also relates to knowledge on, for example, which clothes that are worn at specific times of the day: pyjamas, school uniforms, leisure clothes and again pyjamas. Returning to the clock, analogue and digital time goes hand in hand. This again should be benchmarked against month and year calendars to make holistic chrono-sense to the learner. Chrono-literacy becomes more important when learners have to balance school and personal activities, as well as in the adult years when time management is important.
Once the role of the senses in learning is understood within their context, their importance should not be underestimated. For example, when grade 2 learners are engaged in learning how to count in 5s, they should visually observe how groups of five beans or other objects look when they are configured in groups of five. They must hear others and themselves saying “five” or counting to five. Their proprioception and equilibrioception experiences are equally important when they count on their fingers, which are proprioceptive stimuli to the brain each time when a finger is lifted or closed. This happens while the equilibrioceptors secure the body balance. Chronoception becomes a supportive orientation sense for conceptualising quantity, because it takes longer to count to 1 000 than to 10.