Reading, math, science, nature study, art, art appreciation, poetry, music, music appreciation, physical activity, foreign language, logic, Bible, handicrafts, life skills, and so on.
There are often so many different things that we want to teach our children, and it can be pretty overwhelming. A while back, I talked about not having to do everything every day, but today I want to talk about mastery versus exposure.
What are Mastery and Exposure
There are some subjects and skills that I want my children to master before they leave my homeschool. For example, they need a good mastery of phonics so that they can read well. They need to master math to the level that allows them to function well in adulthood (maybe not calculus but at least introductory algebra.).
However, my children do not need to have mastery of fine arts or poetry. This does not mean that I do not include them in my homeschool or that they are not important, but that the goal is different.
When is Mastery Important?
The areas for which mastery is important are often skill-based subjects, which they will need to use throughout their lives. We also consider a good knowledge of the Bible essential, though they will hopefully continue to learn and grow in that area for the rest of their lives.
Areas, where we want exposure tend to be content areas. These are subjects that I want to share with them, but I don’t expect them to master them.
For example, it is important that my children have exposure to various famous artists and musicians. However, they don’t need to pass a test on their various works. My goal for fine arts is for my children to gain some knowledge and interest and be able to find out more.
Some subjects may be both mastery and exposure for some children. In our home, I wanted to expose my children to musical instruments, but it was not necessary to me that they be proficient on the instrument. However, my daughter loves playing her violin and is working towards mastery. Since it was a priority for her, I shifted her schedule around to allow time for mastery in that area.
Why is it Important?
Analyzing each subject, you teach with the mastery or exposure concept in mind is important. By deciding if it is mastery or exposure, you can better determine how to include it in your homeschool.
One example from our home is math. Since I want a solid mastery of the math courses, I have chosen to use a formal curriculum which my children work on at some point during most school days.
However, poetry is a subject to which I want to expose them without requiring mastery. Therefore, I include it during our read-aloud or poetry tea times. They get to hear and enjoy the poems, but I do not require formal work.
You can certainly use a curriculum for areas that are just exposure (we love using our fine arts curriculum to make it easier for me to be intentional). However, remembering that your goal is exposure can take some of the pressure off and give you more flexibility.
This can also help you with a tip I posted a while back, not needing to do everything every day.
So, take some time to determine what subjects you want your children to master and which ones you just want to expose them to, and then use that information to help make your homeschool schedule work to meet your goals.
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