I’m sure you hear horror stories about math gone wrong. The tales of tears and frustration over math workbooks are legend in many homeschool circles. This is not that story. This is a tale of how math improved when I didn’t even know it needed to do so. Might a change to RightStart make math better in your homeschool too?
A Tale of Lukewarm Math
I counted myself fortunate. My daughter seemed to enjoy math. While I could never claim that she was anxious to do math, she certainly didn’t fight getting it done. I just figured she was one of those people who could do math, but would never find it fun or enjoyable. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
I knew my son was less likely to be agreeable to workbook learning and so I started researching more manipulative intense, hands on options for math. Math-U-See was recommended, and while it looked like a solid program I didn’t want to use up screen time for reviewing basic math. RightStart Math is a considerable up front investment if you purchase the manipulatives as a set, but I figured with Sonlight’s generous return policy it was worth the risk.
Friends, I got this curriculum home and my daughter turned into a math monster. She was livid that her brother was going to get to play during his math time while she had to do her “stupid math workbooks.” She wanted to know why he got “toys.” She said she wanted to sing the songs and play card games too!
So, I let her in on the fun thinking it would be short lived. Surely this too would get old and she’d wander back to her bright and fast paced workbooks. Nope! Friends, she stuck with RightStart Math and started asking to play “math games” and do “math art.” More than that her knowledge base sky rocketed and math she had “sort of” understood has become concrete skill. I am delighted. So is she.
Changing to RightStart Math
Don’t underestimated the power of a good fit for a math curriculum. While I cannot guarantee that your child will be equally successful with Right Start Math or even that they will enjoy the program, I can highlight some of the reasons it has worked so well for us! I can also reveal the reasons we went with RightStart Math over some of the other popular and high quality math programs available to homeschoolers.
7 Reasons RightStart Math Works for Us
1. Hands On Learning
When kids leave preschool a lot of the fun hands on math activities and games leave too. RightStart Math keeps fun at the front and center of the curriculum. Starting with songs and manipulatives then moving into card games and other hands on learning, RightStart Math works to keep my kids engaged and interested to see what idea or contraption Mom is going to pull out of the bag next. Bottom line, my kids think RightStart Math is fun!
2. Manipulatives that really get used
I, like many of you, counted toy cars, my little ponies, and a variety of small animal shaped creatures during our preschool years. RightStart Math takes manipulatives beyond counting with visual learning that utilizes an abacus, a math balance, place value cards, card games, and more.
The founder of the RightStart Math, Dr. Cotter sums up my favorite reason for including math manipulatives post preschool. She is quoted as saying that “one purpose of education is to expand the child’s horizons beyond their familiar environment. This makes it necessary to use specially designed materials…” The manipulatives help equate fun math with real math. Manipulatives that a child can use and see again and again in their imagination to better understand concepts is a cornerstone of this program!
3. Mental Math
Being able to compute mathematical sums in your head or figure percentages without having to consult a calculator has obvious benefits! Leaving a tip at a restaurant and deciding if buying in bulk is a good enough deal to find the storage are two examples I live every week. My kids are already making these kinds of calculations in their heads. The use of manipulatives and games focused on kids being able to visualize how the math works make mental math a more natural development. “Mental Addition,” a game included in RightStart’s Math Card Games is a wonderful example of how my kids are getting extra practice with mental math.
4. Teacher Interactive
At first glance the idea of making a math curriculum more dependent on teach involvement sounds horrible! Here’s the thing friends. RightStart Math includes scripts of what to say and hints for how to help your kids understand concepts. You aren’t just sitting with your child in front of a book while they struggle. You are working through it together with manipulatives or “math toys” as my kids call them.
My child that was complacently completing math worksheet after math worksheet didn’t need more teacher interaction, but she benefits from our time together. With my other two children, my choices are either prod them repeatedly to get their math assignments done while they stare out the window and doodle on their paper or sit down with them and actively engage in learning math. Both take about twenty minutes. I know which one is the clear winner for me!
5. Minimal Worksheets
Reading comprehension and handwriting ability don’t need to be strong to be successful with RightStart Math. Worksheets are included, but especially in the first part of the program they play a very small role. The kids use tally sticks, blocks, counters, fingers, and playing cards to become familiar with numbers and basic mathematical function. An abacus, math balance, and geoboards with reflector are huge highlights for my play loving kids.
6. Easy to get More Practice
Each lesson has review segments allowing for practice, repetition, and a chance to make adjustments. Yet, we are still able to move onto the next lesson without getting stuck on one concept. The true practice comes from playing card games and games and more games! RightStart is a fantastic blend of both teaching and games. Rather than never ending worksheet problems and busy work, engaging card games that are enjoyable and inclusive enable my kids to achieve mastery at their own pace.
7. Unique Spiral + Mastery Approach
Repetitive introduction of a large number of topics built sequentially allows for greater understanding without the risk of humdrum learning. A nice slow pace makes sure we are comfortable with new subject matter, while a continual diet of new material staves off boredom. The challenge of being introduced to lots of new topics allows kids to start seeing the interconnections that exist in mathematics right from the start.
- RightStart provides instruction on basic strategies for mastering numerical facts.
- Then, our family plays card games which provide a reason to learn the facts.
- This combination leads to mastery of mathematics.
RightStart Math for the Win
Sonlight offers several high quality math programs. All of them can prepare your child with the skill set that they need to be competitive in the workforce or to prepare for advanced education. Yet, not all of them will do so in the way that works best in your homeschool. Finding the one that’s right for you and your family is a huge undertaking! Here are a few of the reasons that Right Start Math came home with us! I also highly recommend taking a look at Sonlight’s Math Comparison Chart. Make sure you scroll about halfway down the page to see the chart. It’s very helpful and you can even sort the data by column!
Here’s why we didn’t choose the other math programs offered by Sonlight.
Pass on Digital Instruction
Digital instruction online or via DVD will continue to plod along regardless of whether the child understands a concept. There is no option to move faster once a child grasps a concept to prevent boredom. Rather than having my child sitting alone with a workbook trying to memorize facts that they may or may not understand, the parent is working with the child introducing math as a non-solitary problem-solving endeavor.
Pass on Workbook Intensive
Singapore Math is a great program and my daughter enjoyed it. She just enjoys RightStart Math more. If for any reason we were to hit a rough patch or need a more workbook based approach this would be our go-to! I have never had my hands on a Miquon Math Program although it sounds fascinating. You’ll have to let me know your experience with this one!
Awesome as Enrichment
- Life of Fred
- I know a few people who are able to use Life of Fred as a sole math program. For us it works best as a supplement.
- These DVDs work as a fun, occasional digital treat!
- Math Adventures
- These activity books are new to us and the kids and I are looking forward to trying them out this summer!
Just a Few More Thoughts on RightStart Math
- Unique Format
- This curriculum is different and it will likely take you a few lessons to get used to the format. Then the prep time is minimal.
- High Initial Cost
- The initial investment for the manipulatives is expensive, but you only need to purchase the kit once. The kit is used every year and the books needed for each level are equivalent to the pricing of other curricula.
- Organized By Level Not Grade
- No RightStart Program Past 6th Grade
- The curriculum covers material aimed at kids in grades K-6.
- Organization of Manipulatives
- You will need to spend some time organizing and storing the manipulatives.
Be sure to check out Sonlight’s Math Comparison Chart for a more in depth look!
RightStart Math is the Right Start For Us
The bottom line is that we are using and plan to continue to use RightStart Math because it works for our family. The kids like it and find it fun. The best math program for your family is the one that will get done. Is the right one for you RightStart?
Wishing you joy, peace, and most of all faith in your homeschool!