How long does it take to master a new skill?

Photo by Black ice on

I was thinking about this idea today and decided to do a little bit of research about this idea of mastery. According to, the meaning of mastery is to have a command or grasp of a subject. Why is this important? It is important when we think about our children and their learning. If they are asked to master a concept, but don’t get enough practice, then we have supply that practice time for them. But what if we don’t know how to assist them? I certainly wouldn’t have the expertise to help my child with high school calculus! That is when we find someone who does.

Let’s go back to this idea of math. Now suppose your child is supposed to master his or her math facts, and you either don’t have the time or the ability to teach them. You don’t really understand how teachers teach it, you just want your child to sit down with some flashcards and that should do it.

There is no doubt that repetition will work. It will! I have seen it over and over! I did a little research and found several people who reported that in order to master a skill, a person needs lots of practice.  One in particular is Josh Kaufman (Tedx Talk speaker). He stated that you may be as close as 20 hours away from mastering a skill. I would agree with this sentiment. Anytime I try to learn a new skill, it takes me awhile to really “get it”. When I was doing my online training through the Google for Education Teacher Training for my certifications, it took me about 20 hours for each one. I felt like I had learned the information but still needed to do some very specific practice to really become good at them. So, repeatedly practicing skills will definitely help you learn a skill. Once you learn it, you can use it, and that is where the real power comes from!

If we take the idea of learning math facts and only focus on the repetition of doing flashcards, the child will eventually learn the math facts. However, it can become much more powerful for the child to understand how the math fact was created. As they practice it, they have a much better understanding of the fact and it has more meaning for the child. They need a solid understanding of the concept for it to have meaning.

I know that when I have worked with students that struggle with their math facts, we get more results once they can see a visual representation of the math fact(s) or concepts. I wonder if you are seeking support for your child? If you are, feel free to reach out to me and see how I can help!

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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