As a former high school math teacher, finding an effective and quality math curriculum was very important to me. I wanted to find the best homeschool math curriculum that would encourage my daughter to understand and be able to conceptualize mathematical concepts.
When we started homeschooling, our daughter was entering 1st grade. We just continued with the math program she was doing when attended half day public school kindergarten. My first year homeschooling I just needed to keep it simple. (Remember moms, it is ok to do that!)
The math curriculum was a bunch of worksheets. Not only was it boring, but it truly did not help my daughter conceptually understand math.
A friend of mine introduced me to Right Start Math. After looking over the curriculum book she had and showing me the manipulatives, I was SOLD!
As a math teacher, when you’re in college and visualizing how your classroom will run, you picture all of these fun activities, using manipulatives, let children learn by discovery and you get excited.
Then reality hits. You do not have enough manipulatives, there are too many kids in class to make it work effectively, and the kids just want the bottom line…. The answer.
When I saw all the potential in this program with the manipulatives, knowing I would get to use these with my girls one-on-one, I was THRILLED! I would be able to teach my girls by truly UNDERSTANDING numbers and the conceptual ideas of mathematics.
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How do I choose a math homeschool curriculum?
First consider the type of learner your student is and what they can handle. Our oldest started with a worksheet based curriculum. She was able to sit and do that. Our second child, was a completely different story. There would have been lots of resistance to just sitting and doing a worksheet. She needed something more hands on.
One of the reasons I love Right Start Math is that has something for every type of learner. The visual learner will be able to conceptualize the concepts with the manipulatives. The kinesthetic learner actually gets to play with all the different manipulatives. The auditory learner will be listening to your guided instruction through the math curriculum. Right Start Math is also effective for students with other learning challenges such as dyslexia.
What is the best homeschool curriculum?
I truly believe Right Start Math is one of the best math curriculums for students to truly understand mathematical concepts.
What I love about this program:
- Interactive for the student
- Game based
- 30 – 40 min time frame for each lesson
- Guided lessons – It tells me exactly what to say
- Open and Go – no prep work ahead of time
- Focuses on understanding concepts not rules to follow
- Spiral and Mastery Approach
- Good for visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners
- Great Customer service – FAQs, blog, contact info when I have questions
Why Right Start Math?
When we first started homeschooling I was unsure of what math curriculum to use. As I started talking with other homeschooling moms, many of them where using Saxon. When I heard that, an alarm starting going off in my head.
During my math education schooling in college we had to review multiple mathematics textbooks. The program we liked the least….. Saxon Math. It was all drill and practice and we felt it didn’t teach the student to understand mathematical concepts. They just learned a set of rules to follow. Now, that’s not to say students can not be successful using the Saxon Math program. I just knew personally, I would not be using that math curriculum.
Students need to be able to understand mathematical concepts and not just follow a set of rules or steps. Many people say they do not like math or struggle with math. Personally I believe it is because they were taught a set of rules without the knowledge and conceptual understanding. Therefore they have a difficult time remembering the rules and/or manipulating numbers in their mind, which translates into frustration when they’re trying to help their children with math.
For example, our daughter is finishing up Right Start Math Level E (4th grade, 9 years old). She can add and subtract fractions with different denominators and has NEVER been taught the rule to find the common denominator to do so. They use a fraction chart to introduce fractions, to teach them how fractions of different denominators relate to one another, fraction games to solidify understanding of the value of fractions and how they compare to one another.
Truthfully, my first year I did not buy the Right Start Math RS2 Math Set of manipulatives. I wanted to save money and be sure I truly liked the program.
However, what happened was that I spent more time trying to find these supplies at my house, or buying them separately from different places and they did not work as nicely with the lesson.
It ended up being more hassle than what it was worth trying to make shift items to work. I knew for sure I would be getting the manipulatives for our second year!
The BEST part about the manipulatives? You use them in EVERY LEVEL! So you don’t have to rebuy supplies each year. And if you have children in multiple levels, you can use the same set for each child. I love that I feel I’m getting my money’s worth when I use them for each level and every child.
“One 20 minute game is the same as doing a worksheet.” BOOM! Mind completely blown!
As a formally trained high school math teacher, I gave daily homework worksheets. That is what I would use to ensure students where practicing their math skills. Not only is this tedious but it can be so boring and students are not seeing how mathematics has practical application.
Once I read this statement in the front of the Right Start Math teacher guide, I found so much freedom from having my child complete worksheets as a way to assess if she was understanding the concepts.
When given the choice, students are much more likely to choose to play a game instead of doing a worksheet. They are much more actively engaged in the learning process because they want to win!
Almost every lesson includes a game suggestion at the end of the lesson. Plus there is a full Games Guide book, variety of playing cards, abacus and fraction chart that teaches you how to play every game. (All of this game kit is also included in the RS2 Math Set of manipulatives as well!)
You can also incorporate other children into the game, even if they’re not on the same level.
How much time does it take?
The lessons take approximately 30-40 minutes.
Now I’ve learned this also depends on your child’s attitude at the time as well!
There are 140 Lessons in each Level.
We do 4 lessons each week since we have our Classical Conversations (CC) community co-op group the other day. The weeks we do not have our CC community day, we do lessons 5 days/week. Starting in September, we are able to finish all 140 lessons by the end of May. My goal is to be at lesson 70 by the time we end for Christmas.
Is it parent intensive?
I thought parent intensive meant you needed to take time outside of the lesson preparing materials. You do NOT need to do that with Right Start Math.
However, I learned that parents want to know if they will need to sit with their student and walk through the lesson. Yes, you will need to do that a majority of the time. When there are worksheets, they can be done independently. There are Review worksheets throughout each Level and a final assessment at the end to help you access your child’s understanding, comprehension and mastery of each skill.
One of the best aspects is that they are guided lessons. The book tells you exactly what to say to guide the child through the lesson and the lessons are not that long. They make it very digestible. The book is well organized with teacher instruction, answer keys to worksheets (if there are any that day) and game suggestions at the end of a lesson.
Honestly, as a former math teacher, the thought of letting your child do their math lesson on their own, seems foreign to me. How would I know if my child is truly understanding the concept being taught? Or are they just doing repetitive problems on a worksheet? In Right Start Math, you’re asking probing questions for them to *think* about what they’re observing.
As we’re working through higher levels, I am finding there are some independent aspects once the new concept is taught. That is helpful.
How much does it cost to homeschool?
When contemplating any curriculum, cost is a factor. We want the best for our children, yet we need to be financially responsible.
The best part about this curriculum is that you can reuse it for all your children. There will be an an investment upfront, however, if you continue to use this curriculum with all of your children, the cost will be minimal as you go on.
The cost for any Level, both the student guide and the teacher edition is around $90.
However if you’re using this Level again for another child, the cost to get the student guide is only about $17. The teacher guide is very user friendly, easy to read. The child worksheets are easily laid out, all black and white.
There is a Right Start Math RS2 Math Set of 24 manipulatives that are used for the curriculum for around $210. That breaks down to less than $9 per item, which is a good deal.
Is Right Start Math Common Core?
YES! Thank God that it is! Common Core mathematics is focused on helping students understand mathematics on a conceptual level, not just memorizing rules and facts. That is the whole premise behind Right Start Math. They learn that numbers are flexible and that there is more than one way to solve a math problem. There is a focus on students being able to do mental math as well.
The reason why so many parents are frustrated with Common Core Math is that’s not the way they learned how to do math. They were taught how to follow rules , yet they probably have a hard time explaining WHY they solve the problem that way. Now their children are learning the WHY behind the problem, which takes more training.
To help a child understand math and be able to conceptualize it, there is a lot more “behind the scenes” work that takes place, especially in the elementary years. While it looks like more “work” at the time, the child is learning how to think, manipulate numbers and problem solve more in their mind. Building the foundation young is what will help them understand higher levels of math later in years without so much frustration.
What comes next?
Right Start Math starts at Level A for Kindergarten. Then proceeds in alphabetical order through Level H (ending in 7th grade). Level G & H cover geometry and pre-algebra.
However they do offer a placement test to see what Level your child would test into. The Levels do not need to specifically correspond to a grade level.
They do recommend VideoText Algebra when finished with Level H. VideoText will cover your Algebra High School and then they do have Geometry High School as well.
Right Start Math has been a blessing for our family! I truly enjoy doing the hands-on math lesson with my girls. I love that it focuses on conceptual understanding, mental math and the flexibility of numbers. This is a problem I will continue to encourage others to seek out for their child’s homeschool math curriculum.
Don’t just take my word for it!! Check out other Right Start Math customer testimonials!
Comment below and let me know if this blog post has helped you in anyway! I’d LOVE to hear from you!
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