The following post has absolutely nothing to do with sewing! Yep, incredibly, I don’t always sew! 😂😂
This year we opted out of Kindergarten for our eldest so I could homeschool her instead. For the most part, we’ve had a good time, and I’ve enjoyed not having to get everyone all ready first thing in the morning (every morning) so we can get to the bus on time! Plus, it’s been fun to see my three children play and learn alongside each other.
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Up until this year, we’d been mostly winging it with math – reading Life of Fred books and then just counting and measuring things as part of daily life. I’d spent way more time than I want to admit, researching and agonizing over which math curriculum to use. My daughter adores Life of Fred, and it can be used as a standalone curriculum, but I wanted to have the peace of mind that we were covering everything she needed for a solid math foundation – something I could check off every day. I was particularly drawn to the Asian style of mathematics – probably mostly because my husband is Asian, and also because of lot of it resonated with the way I was taught math (on the occasions I was taught well! I am definitely not a math person!!).
During a curriculum showcase at my daughter’s Classical Conversations co-op, one of the moms showed me the RightStart Math curriculum*. I’d never heard of it, but she recommended it as the best, most well rounded math curriculum she had seen – and since she happened to have a Masters in Math, I took her word for it! One thing she loved about it was that it came with a whole book of math games, and it promoted mastery (the program has both a mastery and spiral approach). And even though it comes with a ton of “manipulatives” (that is, hands on extras), she assured me you could get away with just the abacus if buying the entire thing was out of question.
After doing some research, I decided to jump on it! There comes a time when you just have to make a decision!! I was able to capitalize on their Cyber Monday sale and picked up the teacher guide, student work book, abacus, math card games book, music CD, an additional copy of the appendix (so I didn’t have to scan and copy the one in the guide), and a handful of the card decks that were on sale.
What I love so far:
- Each RightStart Mathematics* lesson is just 2 pages! I can quickly read it the night before – or even shortly before I teach my kid – and be all ready to go. As long as she’s in the right frame of mind, we can complete a lesson in 10-20 minutes.
- The items you need for each lesson are clearly listed at the top of the page.
- The games are great for reinforcement and making math more fun! (You can also buy the card games standalone and use alongside any other math curriculum too).
- The manipulatives are really cool, and I want them all. Haha!
- The music CD is IN TUNE! I’m a trained operatic singer, and so many of our other curriculum CD’s are not perfectly in tune and ugh, my ears!!!
- The music is a fun way to warm up to your math lesson. My toddler and preschooler also love it and always want to join in – I’m pretty sure they love it more than my kindergartener does!
- In less than 20 lessons, my daughter is becoming so much better at mental math! The visuals provided in this curriculum really help with her ability to quickly do addition and subtraction in her head without counting her fingers.
- The lessons don’t require much if any writing. I love this because my daughter can focus on math during her math lessons, and not get too caught up or worn out by writing everything down.
- The Math Card Games money decks are available with multiple currency options – USD obviously, Canadian (CAD), Australian (AUD), New Zealand (NZD), and Euros (EUR) .
- RightStart* has editions for homeschoolers, classrooms, and tutors.
What I don’t love so far:
- I know this sounds cheesy, but I don’t love that I waited so long to start this program. Depending on your kid, many of the initial lessons in Level A can be understood by a 4 year old. (This may also be a younger sibling thing. Or a boy thing. Or just my son’s thing. My son has always been far more adept at picking up on math concepts than my eldest daughter). Either way, you know your kid best! If they’re not interested, don’t push it. Just wait.
- The manipulatives* make this program a little on the pricy side BUT, there are a lot of them, and they are used for the entire program. And, while ideally it’s best to buy them from the outset, you can make do for a little while with just the abacus* (which, I have to say, is a really great abacus! It is visually divided by 5’s and 50, making counting so much easier.). You can also opt for a super-saver kit* that’s about half the price of the full size kit. This one contains the difficult to find manipulatives and requires you to download, print, and cut the cards out, and download the MP3s of the songs. (The complete manipulative kit* is $205.50 and the super saver version* is $110).
My plans for Math this year:
My goal is to do one or two RightStart* lessons each weekday for about 20 minutes. Right now my daughter already understands most of the concepts we are studying, so I’ve been able to combine some of the lessons. I’ve been letting my 4 year old decide whether he wants to do a lesson on any given day, and sometimes he participates but mostly he prefers to play with his trains or do a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes my toddler likes to participate with the Ikea abacus!
We are continuing with Life of Fred too, since my daughter adores it, and we read those during story time or lunch.
Getting started with RightStart
To get started, I recommend the following:
- A RightStart Book Bundle* (have your child do the placement test to determine which level they are in).
- Additional student workbooks* if you’re teaching more than one child.
- Manipulatives – pick one!:
Once you receive your RightStart materials, I suggest laminating all of the pages in the separate appendix before cutting them out. Ideally you want to do this *away* from helpers, so they don’t end up getting wrinkled in the laminator. Ask me how I know.
I currently have our RightStart gear stored in a 15 Qt./ 14 Lt. Sterilite box. Once I get more manipulatives I’ll probably need a bigger box (or a second one).
I’m using Ziplock bags to store each set of cards and our tally sticks.
If you’re going in with a shoe-string budget and not buying a kit, I do have to say that having colored tiles that are not your children’s toys, is helpful. I started out with using Legos and Magnatiles, but this ended up being met with angst from whichever child insisted they were playing with them at the time. A friend offloaded a set of math cubes to me and I am enjoying keeping those in the math box and not having to deal with preschool drama.
I’ve also recently started keeping a little whiteboard in our math box and this is helpful for when my 6 year old needs to write something down.
Got questions? We’re just starting our RightStart journey but I’ll do my best to answer them!
*I am a RightStart Mathematics Affiliate, and am committed to writing a monthly blog post about our journey with this curriculum. Any purchases you make using my affiliate links will earn me a small commission (this will not affect the cost to you!).