What is Mastery Learning and How Can it Improve Your Child’s Learning?

March 23, 2017 in , , ,

Written by Ellen R.

learning to ride a bike

Are you a parent? Well then you are probably an expert mastery teacher. When you taught your child to tie shoes, or ride a bike, did you lecture and give a quiz the next day? Of course not! You probably showed your child, and coached him through the steps. And when they didn’t get it on the first try, I bet you said, “Try this,” or “Give it another try.” As a parent, you know that children learn from their mistakes, and they should keep trying.

Remember this popular adage by Edward Hickson?

If at first you don’t succeed
Try, try again

See? I knew you were a mastery teacher!

Mastery is the way we learn. The surgeon does not get licensed until he or she has practiced many times, the gymnast and musician practice daily to hone their skills, professional golfers play hours every day to keep their skills – ‘Try, try again”.

Unfortunately, most schools are unable to teach using this mastery approach because of deadlines and scheduled exam dates. Teachers must get through the textbook in the typical 180-day school year.

Mastery-Based Learning

Mastery-based learning, also know as competency-based learning, means your child gets to try, try again. Through positive teacher feedback, students revise their work until mastery of the topic is achieved. True mastery-based teaching offers this approach on every lesson. Some schools may claim to be mastery-based however, students are only allowed to retake failed exams.

The benefit to students is that they move through the course at the pace most comfortable to them. Students are not pushed ahead before they are ready, and they are not held back by the pace of other students in the class.

Through mastery learning, the time-limit obstacle is removed and students can delve deeper into subjects. Students gain and retain course knowledge, but also develop important life skills such as time-management, independence, and effective communication.

Read more about Whitmore School’s Mastery-Based Learning.

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