I will be the first to admit it – I hated math in school. Hated it. Dreaded it. It gave me anxiety. So when we decided to homeschool this was the one big area I was not confident in. Math is a part of our everyday world and I didn’t want my kids to dread it like I had.
Then I had my oldest. A sweet little man with a love of math and science. At three and a half he had taught himself addition and subtraction and was begging for more. Oh, but he couldn’t yet hold a pencil properly. So I researched and researched until I found RightStart.
If you’ve never heard of RightStart you are in for a treat! We adore this program!!
For those that don’t know, RightStart is a manipulative-based program that uses a specially designed abacus. They also have scales, block, shapes, etc, but the abacus is the main manipulative.
In RightStart, you teach the child to understand a concept, not just memorize it. It’s broken up into levels and not grades. As of right now there is Level A-G, though it skips F. But I believe they are coming out with F this summer. The placement test is on their website. In theory I’ve been told that the levels correlate to the grades, but having used this program I do not think it’s accurate. They teach things in Level A that public school children might now learn until grade 1 or 2.
So in level A, you and tiny human sit down and learn numbers, but not just rote counting. The child learns that five beads together is five, but if two more are added I don’t have to count it out, the child learns that 5 and 2 is seven. It didn’t take my kids long to be able to visually identify numbers one to ten on the abacus without thinking of it. They also teach that 12 isn’t twelve (though that comes later), it’s 1 ten 2, and 35 isn’t thirty-five it’s three ten five. Initially I’ll admit I thought this as weird, until I realized that they were teaching it in a way that taught place value right off the hop. My kids understood from the earliest lesson that 23 was actually 2 tens and three ones.
The other thing that drew me to RightStart was the fact it came with games. There are so many games to help a child understand a concept before moving on. Kid struggling with addition? Ok, no problem. Camp out on the current lesson for a bit. But instead of giving the child worksheets or drilling them with facts, you get to play four corners. There are games for everything!
I love that the teacher lessons are laid out really clearly. It even tells you what to say if you need it. If you, as the parent get stuck, their customer service is great. Give them a call. They’ll explain it to you. Plus the Facebook group I’ve joined is awesome. I have read online that some people don’t like the amount of teacher involvement, but we don’t spend more than 20 minutes on a math lesson unless my kids are really into it, then they will spend all day! So, I haven’t found it too teacher intensive.
I love that when my seven-year-old as working with a T-square making equilateral triangles and he looked at me with a big smile and told me how much he loves math and T-squares. Isn’t that every homeschool parents dream, to have a kid love doing school!? But that’s my son.
My daughter is a bit of a harder sell. She doesn’t naturally love math – more like her mom I guess! But RightStart has been awesome for her too. She loves the manipulatives, but she loves to write, so we do a lot more writing with her. She needed a bit of extra time on identifying number 1-10 on the abacus so we’ve spent more time playing games. But, even though math doesn’t come as easily to her, she still likes it. She doesn’t whine or complain about doing it. Which, to me, is a win!
So, clearly I love this program. I recommend it to everyone (and have even convinced a few to come join me in the RightStart world.) But, I know you’re all asking if there is anything I don’t like? Honestly, yes. The initial start up cost is a lot! Granted, you get the entire set of maniupulatives you’ll need. But it’s still a lot. It as a major purchase for us, that took some of the kids birthday money and some savings. But after having used it for three years I love it and would spend it again. It’s been worth every penny in my mind.
This is a guest post. Cara, a homeschool mom of two, works part-time, has a dog and a cat and is considering another dog. Is questioning her sanity around the second dog. All of this while residing in Saskatchewan.