Rightstart Math Homeschool Math Curriculum

Have you used Rightstart Math? Add your Curriculum Review here.

by Hillary

Juneau, AK

Rightstart Mathematics is an Asian based Mathematics program. It encompasses all elementary grades up through Algebra. The RightStart curriculum was developed by Joan A. Cotter, and is a hands-on, research based approach to mathematics using the ALabacus

The basic premises are

  • the use of an abacus, and
  • learning the value and combinations of 5's and 10's to solve problems.

Rather than learn counting and adding as a 'one-by-one' approach, the child learns games and songs right off that teach additives of 5 and 10's.

My family has used level A (Kindergarten) and level B (1st Grade), and they run about a year ahead of US public school math grades. However, the learning makes so much sense that the kids are not overly challenged.


Songs and Manipulatives

Joan Cotter, the developer of the curriculum, has implemented the use of songs, manipulatives, and card games in order to drill in a less stressful way. Generally the children and I sit at the table and go through the lesson together, and often do the worksheets together.

In the first grade, some of the problem solving is a little more in-depth so occasionally I split the kids up in order to make sure each one has learned the concepts.

Using Rightstart Math in my home

I have twins, so I used the kits for multiple children by just making copies of the worksheets (not a daily thing, just occasionally after a concept has been drilled adequately) and by purchasing an additional abacus. When we moved onto level B, we just purchased the next teachers' guide and the 'add-on' kit. The kits includes all the cards, geoboards, and the music CD that is called for in the teacher's guide.

What my children think about Rightstart Math Homeschool Curriculum

My children really enjoy this program. My daughter who is very artistic and creative actually shocked me the other day by telling me that Math is her favorite subject ("because of all the games we get to play") when I expected her to pick Art or the Five In A Row stories we read. My son enjoys it, too, but since he tends to gravitate towards Math and Science anyway, that wasn't nearly as surprising ;)

My husband and I are so impressed with the way concepts are introduced audibly as well as visually/kinesthetically. I have many moments when teaching this, when I just think "Wow-that's so cool how she explains that!"

One such "Wow" moment was when we actually SAW place value?! By taking the special cards and sliding digits over the zeros, my kids were actually able to visualize what those place values meant! Of course there were other lessons leading up to that point, but it was so much more concrete for them to do it in that fashion versus just me showing them on a chalkboard.

Now, no curriculum is perfect for everybody (including us!), so here are a few suggestions for those thinking of using Rightstart Math:

  1. I noticed right away that the lessons are LONG and cover many topics. Well, after looking at the back of the book, I noticed there are only 75 lessons for level A and 106 for Level B! A US public school goes for 180 days! Thus, I proceeded to break most lessons in half or even thirds. We finished the whole book and used it 3-4 days/week for 15-20 min/day with 2 kids (a little longer if they had a worksheet to do).

  2. As mentioned before, this curriculum advances much more quickly than other curriculum because of the nature of the learning. For example, in Kindergarten the kids learn single digit addition fairly quickly, and because it's based off of 5's and 10's, they begin to learn coin values for pennies, nickels, and dimes as well. They also begin to tell time because of the 5 minute increments on a clock. If you are coming into this program after the Kindergarten level (especially from a public school), I would look at possibly doing one level lower than grade level to begin with in (order to fill in gaps and get the hang of the different learning style).

Again, we really like Rightstart Math as long as we take it slower than the book says. We enjoy the games, and I feel like my kids are getting solid foundation in maths.

I've already purchases Level C for next year!

Check out the Rightstart Math Curriculum here.


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