One blessing of homeschooling is the ability to strive for mastery to ensure that my kids are really ready to move on. But, what does that look like in real life?
One of my big gripes about the public school system is the way they teach to the middle and move on at a quick pace. With 18-30 kids in a room, a public school teacher cannot logistically teach a concept until every member of the class has mastered it.
If they did, the top of the class would be held back. The bottom of the class might suffer under pressure.
In my homeschool, because I can move at my child’s pace, I have time to strive for mastery instead of plowing through to finish the curriculum before an end-of-the-year test. I can slow down when necessary to reteach a concept that my kids are struggling with. I don’t have the same time constraints I had in the classroom.
Striving for mastery is good in theory, but what does it look like in practice?
Striving for Mastery In Homeschool
We go back over concepts when necessary. Often times, after a history lesson, I have my kids narrate to me what she’s learned or write a short summary on notebooking pages. I can glean from that conversation or their narration how much they comprehended.
In grammar, I give a short oral quiz before each lesson. It’s pretty easy to determine how much has been retained from previous lessons. When necessary, we go back over the lessons to make sure they’ve ‘got it’ before we move on.
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I require 85% before moving on. For all graded work – quizzes, tests, and daily math assignments – I require a score of 85% to move on.
My kids are required to correct anything with a score below that. I figure if they can’t get an 85, one of two things has happened… One, they totally didn’t pay attention to the task at hand and must redo a job half-done. Or, two, they didn’t understand what they was doing, and we need to go over the lesson again.
Requiring them to “only” score an 85 allows for rough days, making simple mathematical errors, or just being an imperfect kid.
I strive for mastery – not perfection. I don’t expect my kids to have a perfect score on everything. That requirement of perfection puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on a kid.
And, I don’t expect them to master everything before we move on. While I do want them to know the difference between intransitive and transitive verbs, I don’t expect them to memorize the entire list of prepositions.
They don’t have to memorize all of the formulas for geometry, but I do expect them to know their times tables.
It’s my job and my privilege to circle back around and reteach when necessary instead of plowing ahead with a lost child.
It’s my job to teach tricks and hacks to recall the important stuff (My Very Educated Mother…). It’s also my job to teach my kids where to go to learn what they doesn’t know – Google, library, dictionary, etc.
Encouragement for Homeschool Moms
Below, I’ve featured just a handful of books meant to encourage homeschool moms that will help your readers celebrate their favorite characters.
You should be able to find them at your local library or bookstore. If you can’t find them locally, you can click each image cover to purchase them on Amazon.
Creating Homeschool Balance – “Creating Homeschool Balance” will help you understand what balance looks like, feels like, and how to create it.
Your Goals This Year – No matter which kind of homeschool parent you are, this book will help you understand the stages of homeschooling high school, put you on the path to success, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You can homeschool through high school, and here are the tools to help you.
Scheduling: The Secret to Homeschool Sanity – When you homeschool, it’s important to take time to plan and rest, and not just work, work, work! Using schedules in your homeschool can help you avoid burnout.