Ever since our first day of “official” homeschooling, five years ago when our oldest son was in kindergarten, math has always been our most challenging subject. I am not a “math person.” Although I understand and can perform all the functions of elementary and intermediate math just fine, I have discovered that explaining these lessons – the actual teaching of math – is very difficult for me to do.
Each year we have tried a new math program, in search of something that is academically challenging, would truly fit my children’s learning styles and still be easy for me to teach. I had just about given up hoping that such a curricula existed, until this year when we began using Right Start Math for Rose. What an amazing difference this has made for our math lessons!
This program has everything that I’ve been looking for in an elementary math curricula. It is very hands-on - great for my kinesthetic learners! - with all of its lessons centered around a wide variety of manipulatives and teaching aids. The teacher’s manual provides thorough instructions for each activity, saving me both the time and frustration of trying to prepare these on my own. It is a conceptual program, teaching the reasoning behind each math skill, with incremental lessons that offer just the right amount of new information for my child to learn. Most importantly, Right Start’s teaching method is derived from what is used in countries like Singapore and Japan, where students score much higher in math than students in America and Europe. Singapore Math is the only other curriculum I know of that uses this method, which I like very much in theory, but have found that program to be very hard to teach.
For this school year, I purchased the Level B curriculum for Rose, which includes the teacher’s guide, student workbook and a huge boxful of manipulatives. Everything is provided in the package that we need for our lessons, which really makes my job as teacher very easy! The teacher’s guide gives a list of needed materials at the top of each lesson, and it usually takes me about five minutes to gather what we need and prepare for teaching. Each lesson is completely scripted, giving me the exact wording to use as I guide my child through the activites. Of course these are only suggestions, but for math-challenged moms like me, it is very much appreciated!
I also really appreciate the organization of the teacher’s manual as it gathers all of the scripting, instructions for the activities and extra practice for the lessons into one place. I don’t waste any time – or get frustrated! – flipping through different sections or books searching for what I need to teach. All of our materials fit nicely into one big basket, which Rose loves to pull out and get everything set up for math time.
The lesson itself usually takes about 20-30 minutes for us to complete. We begin each day with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises and skill review. The main lesson then begins with various projects using the manipulatives as Rose discovers and then practices the new concept. Opportunity for extra practice is given if she needs more work in order to understand the lesson. Sometimes a worksheet is assigned, which I allow Rose to do on her own, as independent work. We really have so much fun working through these lessons together. It definitely feels more like we’re playing games or working on puzzles than having a math class!
One final item that really impressed me about this publisher is the quality of their customer service. I called their company a few times last spring, when I was still in the process of deciding whether we should try this program. They were so helpful to answer all of my questions about their product, and spent a lot of time helping me figure out which level to place Rose in. They even assisted me with General, who is in 5th grade and just beyond the levels of Right Start (their curricula currently goes through 5th grade), by recommending other publishers for the upper elementary grades whose curricula would be compatible with the foundations given in the Right Start program.
We began using this program as soon as it arrived last spring, so it has been a total of about six months now. This is the first year of our homeschooling journey that I can truly say that math is enjoyable for our family. My only regret is not having found this years ago!