Why Mastery of Skills is Important for Young Students

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

School is a journey that is different for each student. All parents understand that it’s important for their children to keep up in the classroom, but it’s also important that students each learn at their own pace.   

Why? Students who are given the time and support to fully understand concepts as they move throughout a subject are less likely to have gaps in their knowledge that will come back to haunt them later on. At Huntington, we refer to this as skill mastery, but it’s a well-known concept in the world of education.  

Mastery of skills is essential for deeper learning. Students who are encouraged to master knowledge before moving on to the next concept are inherently taught to persevere and approach learning with a growth (rather than fixed) mindset. They also build their confidence in the process.  

The challenge: skill mastery requires individualized instruction 

In concept, skill mastery makes a lot of sense. But in a classroom of 20 or more students, teachers are not always able to personalize instruction and give each student the attention they need when a concept or unit doesn’t click for them. Many students will keep up with the teacher as they teach to the entire class. But there will always be some students who struggle to do so and miss important knowledge that is required to understand subsequent topics.  

When this happens, those students might perform poorly on homework and tests, but the class continues onward. Often, these students must simply carry on and do their best to continue grasping the successive lessons. But as school advances from elementary to middle and high school and classes become harder, small skill gaps can easily become bigger and bigger.  

Taking a time out to catch up 

If you notice your child—no matter their age—struggling with things like… 

  • Low grades or inconsistent grades (e.g., poor grades on some homework, mediocre grades on other homework, often in the same subject) 
  • Lack of confidence 
  • Diminished self-esteem 
  • Poor time management due to getting stuck on certain homework 

…it’s important to address the problem. No two students learn exactly alike or at the exact same pace, which makes 100% mastery of skills with 100% of students very difficult to achieve in any classroom.  

Your child needs help bridging the gap between what they need to know in one or more subjects and what they actually know. If those gaps are left uncorrected, the problems will continue to grow.  

Skill mastery is important  

Students who master topics before moving on to new ones are shown to have higher levels of achievement in school, greater confidence, better comprehension and long-term retention, and a greater commitment to lifelong learning, among many other benefits.  

If you want to help your child catch up their skills, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll perform an academic evaluation on your child’s abilities, identify what skills your child still needs to master and develop a customized program of instruction to get them there. Let’s help your student master knowledge and finish the school year strong!