[W]ith its rigorous, yet approachable, multisensory teaching methods, and lots of interesting hands-on activities and fun card games to help reinforce and practice the learning, RightStart math can go a long way in helping students develop strong math skills with a minimum of tears.
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What Is Rightstart Math?
First published in the 1980s, RightStart Math is a math curriculum produced by Activities for Learning, Inc and created by educator Dr. Joan A. Cotter.
A thorough math curriculum with a strong emphasis on hands-on, multisensory learning, step-by-step instruction, over the years RightStart Math has become a popular math program used by both homeschools and traditional classrooms alike.
What Grades Is Rightstart Math Intended For?
RightStart Math is a curriculum that covers elementary and middle school math, that is grades K-8, and touches on math concepts from basic number sense and counting through pre-Algebra and Geometry.
Unlike more traditional math courses whose books and learning material are broken up along grade level, RightStart Math books follow an alphabetic naming scheme, with books going from A through H, each touching on different topics in math.
In general, levels A to F cover kindergarten and elementary school math, i.e. place value and counting all the way through fractions, decimals, exponents and basic geometry.
Levels G&H are designed to cover middle school math, with a stronger focus on geometry but covering some pre-algebra concepts as well.
While perhaps not as straightforward and intuitive for parents as a grade-level structure (Curricula for grade 1, 2, 3 and so on), RightStart Math’s method of structuring its course materials does make things somewhat more flexible, particularly for homeschoolers.
Without any obvious reference to grade, students and parents are encouraged to focus more on working on developing critical math skill and knowledge and less on grade level expectations.
This can be particularly important for students studying outside typical grade expectations, such as with precocious students or those who are a bit behind, who may be a bit intimidated, embarrassed or uncomfortable studying from a book that makes obvious references to a particular grade level.
On the downside, this structure does make it less intuitive and easy for parents and students switching into the program to know where to start.
That said, the company does offer a good deal of help with placement, which is always nice, offering free online placement tests on their website.
These are sort of like short multiple choice tests that parents can answer through their web browser (there are also downloadable tests available as well), at the end of which they receive a recommendation from the company.
For those that need further assistance, the company also provides phone and email consultations.
What’s Needed To Teach The Curriculum?
In terms of books and learning materials, broadly speaking RightStart Math is fairly similar to other hands-on math curricula.
Each level of the program generally requires:
- A lesson guide
- Various manipulatives
RightStart Math’s lesson guides are fairly thick, spiral-bound books that contain more or less everything needed to teach math at each level, including full lesson plans, step-by-step math instruction and activities.
In addition, they contain a full introduction to RightStart, its methodology and guiding philosophy and therefore shouldn’t be too difficult for parents to use if they’re jumping into the program at a more advanced grade.
The books are printed in black and white and while perhaps not the most visually stimulating textbooks out there, they are logically laid out and very well illustrated, with various diagrams and drawings to help parents get a better idea of set up and use the manipulatives and games they’ll be using to demonstrate concepts in each lesson, which can be quite helpful.
Interestingly, each page in the lesson guides are divided into two parts. On the left, parents are presented with teaching material, while on the right there are various directions, explanations of methodology aimed at the parent, as well as occasional tips for teaching the material to students.
As with other math programs, during or after a lesson students practice what they’ve learned in dedicated math worksheets.
These worksheets are consumable and, like the lesson guides, are also spiral bound and printed in black and white.
Being black and white exercise books, RightStart Math’s worksheets aren’t perhaps as interesting to look at or work with as can be found in math programs like Math in Focus or Simply Good and Beautiful.
They are, however, very well designed and tend to offer a good mix of problem solving and computational problems, which is important.
Interestingly, and in line with the hands-on nature of the program, the worksheets also include various illustrated problem sets that make use of manipulatives in some way, which is kind of different even among manipulative-heavy math programs.
RightStart Math is a strongly hands-on math curriculum and, as with other such programs, its lessons make extensive use of math manipulatives.
Depending on the lesson, parents may be asked to make use of math balances, tiles, cubes, tangrams, clocks, various cards and more.
If parents don’t already have a set of math manipulatives, for example if they are just starting to homeschool math or are switching into RightStart Math from a more traditional curriculum, they will have to purchase a set.
The company does sell complete kits of manipulatives, however, which can make things a lot easier for parents.
A full manipulatives kit for RightStart can cost over $200, which is a bit pricey, but it should be noted that unlike other math curriculum providers, a manipulative kit from RightStart will last for the duration of the program and not require any top-ups as a student progresses into more complex math.
The company also offers a less expensive super saver kit for about $130, which contains the essential manipulatives for the program but may be missing a couple items here and there that parents will need to find and purchase on their own (usually pretty commonly available household items, such as as scissors and thermometers and such).
Parents can, of course, pick up (or reuse) a manipulatives kit from other sources or second hand, however they will likely need to buy the AL Abacus from RightStart.
This abacus is very central to RightStart’s teaching, especially in the earlier grades, and it is used fairly extensively to teach a variety of math concepts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and more) through various activities and exercises, as can be seen in t he video below.
Unlike most other abacuses that can be found online, the AL Abacus is color coded and is dual sided, with one side left blank for mental math and counting and the other side printed for use with regrouping, operations and more complex trading.
Because it is designed a little differently and because it is specifically designed to work with certain lessons and specific activities, it is something of a necessary item that can’t really be replaced with a generic version, in our opinion.
Although not particularly expensive (less than about $20), it is something that those who have their own kits will need to budget for.
Similarly, parents making do with their own manipulatives will probably have to purchase the RightStart Math Card Game book and related cards, as well.
The curriculum often uses cards and card games to help students practice math concepts and facts in fairly novel and interesting ways, and while these items are included in the manipulatives kits they are sold separately as well.
Use of Technology
Although a very hands-on and activity-rich curriculum, and still something of a traditional pen and paper math curriculum, RightStart offers a few apps and technological solutions that some parents may find useful.
There are, for example, a variety of apps (for Android and iOS) that parents can integrate into learning.
Most notably, the company has built a digital version of its AL Abacus that can be used on a touchscreen.
Although it doesn’t provide quite the same tactile experience as the physical abacus during lessons (and increases the amount of time kids spend staring at a screen), the virtual version is something of a space saver and, because it can be accessed at any time from a mobile device, does somewhat reduce the amount of organization and prep work required for each lesson.
In addition to the Abacus, RightStart has digitized some of its in-game games, such as Fraction War, Super Corners and Go To Ten, which also can reduce some of the organization requirements of the program and make the games a little more interesting to digitally native kids.
Finally, RightStart has begun offering online classes for its program, which is kind of interesting and unique for a math curriculum, where students can meet with a teacher twice a week in a small, digital classroom setting.
This can turn RightStart Math into more of an online learning program, rather than a homeschool curriculum, which can save busy parents quite a bit of time and make things a lot easier for those who are unsure of their ability to teach math.
They are, however, somewhat expensive at nearly $500 per course and, at time of writing, are limited to middle school only (G&H).
Finally, RightStart Math includes PDF copies of its workbooks as well as consumable physical editions, which lets parents print out multiple copies on the go, something that can be very helpful for larger families.
How Does Rightstart Math Approach Teaching Math?
RightStart Math, similar to programs like Math Mammoth or Singapore Math, places a strong emphasis on helping students develop a stronger conceptual understanding of math.
In other words, RightStart Math places a stronger emphasis on getting students to understand why they are doing what they are doing, rather than just how to do math, learning things like why math facts and procedures work the way they do, why certain strategies are used, the underlying logic and reasoning behind certain concepts and so on. .
During lessons, therefore, students are guided step by step through concepts with games, activities and lots of hands-on explorations, rather than doing endless memorization, drill and computational exercises, and will tend to spend more time working on their reasoning and problem solving rather than completing pages of straight arithmetic in their workbook.
This conceptual approach is very different from more traditional, procedural programs such as Abeka or Saxon Math, which focus more on teaching students how to do math problems quickly and efficiently, usually through memorizing math facts, learning particular steps for solving problems and, of course, doing lots of drill.
A downside of the conceptual approach to math is that, while it does develop strong critical thinking skills and comfort with math, a heavily conceptual curriculum can have fewer opportunities for drill and practice than procedural programs, which some students certainly benefit from.
With RightStart, students do get a lot more practice than many other conceptually-oriented programs through the games, activities and workbook exercises built-in to each lesson.
That said, it doesn’t include quite as much drill as more procedural math programs may offer.
RightStart Math is mostly a spiral math curriculum.
This means that math concepts are broken up into smaller, easier to digest pieces and students learn some before moving onto another. They then revisit topics again and again throughout their studies, each time in a greater amount of depth and detail.
This structure of learning allows students to be exposed to a greater number of math concepts in a given time and gives the curriculum a certain freshness, not really letting students get bogged down by one concept for too long.
Because students revisit topics more frequently, it also means that students get more opportunity to review, repeat and practice concepts in math, something that can be great for students who have a tendency to forget things after a while.
This spiral learning method stands in contrast to a mastery method, where students dive deeply into one topic at a time, often over a period of weeks, until students “master,” or show proficiency, in that topic.
Once proficiency is reached in a mastery program, students move on and tend not to review it very often or at all later on.
Spiral curricula do have their downsides that parents should be aware of.
While some students enjoy the novelty of learning different concepts, and may dislike having to study one topic over an extended period, others can become frustrated and prefer to focus on one thing at a time.
Similarly students can get frustrated by revisiting topics again and again throughout their studies, even if they are exploring them in more depth as they do so.
It is important to note that while RightStart Math is mostly a spiral curriculum, it does have some elements of mastery woven into it, which can help balance things out a bit for some students and parents.
For example, the curriculum is organized in a very sequential manner so topics seem more logically linked and related compared to some others, so the program may not feel as random to students.
In addition, each lesson in the course offers a conclusion section, which allows parents to check for proficiency before moving on to the next and helps prevent the development of skill and knowledge gaps.
RightStart is a very multisensory and hands-on math program.
In addition to including a lot of back and forth dialogue in its lessons, RightStart explains and explores math concepts through a variety of games, activities, visuals and manipulatives that are integrated into each lesson.
Many concepts are first explored through hands-on exercises, often with an abacus or other manipulative, and often practiced and further explored with frequent math card games and other activities.
Other than making math learning a little more fun and interactive, this multisensory learning approach can help students get a better grasp on more abstract concepts in math, letting them see and feel physical or at least visual representations of math concepts rather than just experience them as equations.
It also tends to allow RightStart Math to better suit different learning preferences, making it a good fit for tactile and kinesthetic learners as well as visual/auditory learners.
Finally, because it engages more cognitive pathways and senses during learning, a multisensory approach can help with improved memory retention, recall and understanding over time.
Interestingly, and unlike some other homeschool math programs that use manipulatives and hands-on learning only in earlier grades, RightStart includes multisensory, hands-on learning throughout its K-8 courses, meaning older, tactilely-inclined learners can benefit from its multisensory approach to math as well.
The downside of such a multisensory and hands-on approach to math, and something that homeschooling parents need to be aware of, is that it does mean that there can be a lot more things to keep track of and keep organized in a program like RightStart compared to pure reading/writing based math programs.
A kit from RightStart can include a lot of helpful math assets, like rulers, cubes, abacuses, scales, weights, tangrams and more, as well as various charts, place value cards, number cards, picture cards and more.
Parents will have to sort through the various components listed above to find whatever is necessary for a particular lesson and, of course, put them away and store them safely afterwards.
While most may not have any real problem with this, others are a little more…organizationally challenged…and can find staying on top of things somewhat difficult in the long run.
Finally, RightStart Math has taken a lot of inspiration and influence from the Montessori approach to teaching math, in particular as it pertains to creating a prepared learning environment.
There are, for example, a lot of activities and games integrated into each lesson, such that students can learn through play and movement.
The curriculum also, as mentioned above, integrates a variety of hands-on sensory materials as learning aids to better demonstrate relationships and math properties, such as weight, size, geometry and more, making these sometimes abstract concepts a lot more concrete and understandable.
Finally, through its scripted back and forth dialogues, RightStart Math helps kids learn to reason and explore math concepts themselves, guiding them into coming to their own conclusions about math functions and relationships.
In this way, the learning cultivates a lot more self-directed learning and is less directive and top-down than other math programs.
As a result, while RightStart certainly is not a by-the-books Montessouri math program, something that some purists may not appreciate, it can be a good fit for homeschools that are inspired by or positively inclined to Montessouri methods for teaching.
How It Works
For courses A-F, RightStart math is intended to be a parent or teacher-led curriculum, with parents providing instruction and guiding lessons from the lesson guide and students following along, interacting with the parent, engaging in activities alongside the parent and completing exercises in their worksheets from time to time.
In contrast, the lesson guides for levels G and H (being aimed at middle school) are written to the student rather than the parent, meaning students are expected to be able to work more independently while parents step back into an oversight/guidance role.
Depending on the level, RightStart Math books are divided into between 120-150 lessons and can be studied at a pace of a lesson a day over the course of a year or so, depending on the student and their progression.
Lessons in RightStart math follow a common structure:
- Warm up
- Teaching component
- Games, activities and practice
RightStart Math lessons tend to start with a brief warm up.
These are a way of practicing key skills or math facts that are pretty straightforward and, aside from being good review, can be a pretty effective way of getting kids in a math frame of mind, particularly when switching from unrelated homeschool subjects.
Following the warm up, parents and students move on to the teaching portion of the lesson.
Concepts are introduced visually and through the use of a manipulative or other hands-on demonstration.
Frequently, the lesson script encourages students to reason through things under the guidance of the parent (or, in middle school, through leading questions), making lessons very interactive and thought provoking and much less of a top-down lecture.
Games, Activities and Practice
Once a concept has been introduced, it is generally taught and reinforced through a series of activities and games, as well as exercises in the student worksheets, all of which really from the heart of the lesson.
There are a lot of different games and activities for students and parents to try in every book of the RightStart Math curriculum.
In-lesson activities provide students with the opportunity to have a step-by-step guided exploration of the concept(s) they’ve just been taught further and often with the help of manipulatives and objects.
They might include, for example, a written demonstration by a parent, manipulative work, an examination of certain strategies or operations using the abacus, working with charts and tables, and more.
Students may also be asked to do some practice in their worksheets in order to demonstrate a point or simply to get extra practice, much like many other math programs out there.
Unlike other curricula, however, many RightStart Math exercises can themselves involve the use of manipulatives or hands-on work, making things a little more interactive and fun compared to the typical straightforward computation and word problems one sees in math workbooks.
Finally, certain lessons have students play card games in order to further explore a concept.
Aside from being kind of fun, these card games are used as a method of in-lesson review and practice, keeping math skills sharp without boring students to tears with endless pages of exercises and drills.
An example of this can be seen in the video below.
RightStart Math is, in fact, somewhat well known for its extensive use of card games in its lessons, offering some 300 in their Math Card Game book.
There are, for example, variations on the classic game of War, various memory games, card games for finding multiples and practicing other operations, variations of solitaire, corners, chain games and more.
While the lessons contain quite a few of these games, much like traditional drill and practice, RightStart recommends that parents and students play them a couple times a week outside of normal lessons to strengthen understanding and recall.
At the end of each lesson, there is a conclusion section, where the student is asked to briefly demonstrate their knowledge and familiarity with the lesson’s concept, most often by verbally answering a few direct questions.
The conclusion section is kind of interesting and seemingly borrowed from mastery programs’ concept of proficiency, providing parents with a way to know if a student has properly processed and absorbed the key points of a lesson and is ready to move on without having to do a quiz or exercise.
If a student can easily and properly answer questions about a concept they might be ready to move on, but if they struggle or hesitate they probably need extra practice and revision.
Our thoughts on RightStart Math lessons
Overall, the lessons in RightStart Math are pretty straightforward and consistent, and its activity-based approach does an excellent job at exploring and practicing math concepts without forcing students to do endless drill.
In fact, with the strong integration of hands-on activities, exercises and games into each lesson, we’d say there are few math programs out there that are quite as activity-rich as RightStart.
The math teaching itself is quite good, with lessons that manage to explain abstract and sometimes complex math concepts clearly and simply, but at the same time manage to dive fairly deeply into them, providing students with a fairly thorough understanding of why they’re doing what they are doing and the many different strategies and approaches that one can take when dealing with math.
The dialogues provided in each lesson are highly interactive and often get students thinking and reasoning out concepts themselves, rather than simply spoon feeding them the information.
We really appreciate this type of teaching, particularly when it comes to math, as we feel it can really help students learn to be more independent, self-reliant and flexible thinkers, especially when it comes to problem solving.
We also like the fact that there can be a lot of variety in the activities used to demonstrate and explore concepts.
The many different activity types not only keeps the program highly interactive and helps students better grasp abstract math ideas, but also prevents lessons from becoming stale and predictable.
Similarly, the many different card games provided by the program make practicing and drilling math facts, concepts and operations a lot more fun and interesting for students, particularly if they are the type that enjoy board games and card games and especially if they are the type of student that hates endless rote memorization and drill.
On the downside, RightStart Math can be very intensive for parents, at least in grades K-6. During lessons parents are expected to lead conversations, guide students step-by-step through activities, monitor and correct worksheet exercises and, of course, set up and play card games with their students.
As a result, although RightStart recommends that lessons be around 30-40 minutes or so, they can be somewhat time consuming for busy parents, particularly if a student is struggling with a concept or really gets into a game or activity.
Similarly, because there are a lot of different manipulatives, cards, charts and more used in various lessons, there can be a lot more for parents to keep track of compared to simple pen and paper math curricula.
Although each lesson provides a materials list that details what manipulatives each lesson requires, parents still need to keep things organized and get things ready, increasing the amount of prep work before each lesson, something that isn’t every parent’s strong suit or preference.
Finally, it is important to note that, similar to programs like Singapore Math and Math in Focus, RightStart Math’s conceptual approach and way of introducing and practicing math can feel very different from the way that parents themselves learned math.
As a result, RightStart can have a bit of a learning curve at first, perhaps requiring some parents to spend time getting used to its educational philosophy and methods in order to really feel comfortable using it compared to more traditional programs.
How Rigorous Is RightStart Math?
Overall, RightStart Math can provide a rigorous and thorough K-8 math education.
It is a strongly conceptual math program, meaning that it tends to emphasize strong analytic and critical thinking skills and often encourages students to reason through the math’s logic and approach problem sets in different ways.
Although there may not be as much straightforward drill and rote memorization in this program compared to a more procedural program, the various activities and card games in each lesson can challenge students to think about and apply different strategies.
In addition, although it meets Common Core and State Standards for math, it often exceeds them by a fair bit, following its own pace, scope and sequence and introducing advanced topics earlier than many other programs.
With all that said, with its unique hands-on teaching, strong emphasis on engaging practice and clear, simple explanations of math concepts, we believe that RightStart can be used by students of all abilities who are interested in developing strong conceptual math skills and knowledge.
How Easy Is RightStart Math To Teach?
By and large RightStart Math is actually quite easy for parents to teach.
The lessons themselves are heavily scripted, providing a word-for-word dialogue that parents can follow to convey information to their students, as well as various explanations of their methodology and even tips that can be used to help students better understand the material.
The lesson guides are also very clearly illustrated, with diagrams showing exactly how to use the various manipulatives and cards to introduce and practice math topics, which makes conducting the activities and games quite simple and straightforward.
While some homeschooling parents may not appreciate the level of lesson scripting that RightStart Math’s lessons offer, perhaps preferring a little more room for customization, new homeschoolers and those who aren’t comfortable teaching math can lean on this dialogue to carry them through lessons and should therefore have no issues using this curriculum.
In fact, although we recommend that parents review the methodology and philosophy of RightStart before starting to teach, the books are so well laid out, detailed and well-scripted that we feel that parents can essentially open a book and start teaching right away.
Pros And Cons
Thorough, conceptual math program
RightStart spends a lot of time helping students understand the why behind math, rather than just how to solve problems.
Consequently, students following the program can develop a more thorough understanding of math theory and logic, as well as stronger problem solving ability, ultimately becoming more comfortable and capable when dealing with new or unusual math problems.
RightStart Math is also a math program that offers homeschools a fairly rigorous and comprehensive math curriculum that can help students develop stronger skills in math.
The curriculum explores math concepts in a good amount of depth, offers students a lot of challenging and interesting problems and exercises to work on and overall is a great way to teach students to work critically and logically through problems.
Step by step, easy to understand lessons
Although it can be a thorough and sometimes advanced curriculum, RightStart Math does a good job at teaching concepts clearly, simply and in a step-by-step manner.
Combined with its emphasis on hands-on and multisensory exploration, we believe this makes the curriculum fairly approachable and understandable for most students.
Encourages creative and flexible problem solving and self-reliance in math
Rather than being taught a single way to deal with a problem or concept, students in RightStart can learn to explore and make use of different strategies to solve problems, which in turn gets them thinking more flexibly and creatively in math.
Similarly, the back and forth dialogue often encourages students to weigh in and reason through concepts, which in turn can hone their logic and critical thinking skills and help them become more self-reliant when it comes to their studies.
Strong, hands-on learning component
RightStart Math integrates a good deal of hands-on and multisensory learning into its lessons, with students making use of manipulatives and games to better understand and deal with the sometimes difficult abstract concepts that pop up in math.
Unlike many other programs that limit the use of manipulatives and other forms of hands-on learning to earlier grades, RightStart keeps the learning very multisensory all the way through middle school, making it a good choice for even older students who learn a little differently.
Lessons and practice are activity rich and fun
Rather than simply relying on endless pages of computational exercises and workbook practice, RightStart Math also teaches and practices math concepts through various multisensory activities and games
While the curriculum does make use of traditional worksheet exercises, these activities and games can make things a lot more interesting and engaging for students and can make practicing math skills more fun and less like endless drill.
Well-scripted, open and go curriculum
Although it teaches math a little bit differently than many other math curricula out there, RightStart Math lesson guides are very detailed and scripted, providing parents with a complete dialogue and illustrations they can fall back on when teaching something unfamiliar to them.
Similarly, the program’s directions are so clearly laid out that parents can largely pick up a book and start teaching a lesson.
Manipulatives do add to the cost of the program overall
Although the curriculum itself is about average in price, parents will have to purchase a set of manipulatives as well, which can add to the program’s upfront cost.
The use of manipulatives and games means there’s a lot to keep track of
Similarly, since lessons typically make use of various manipulatives and practice often involves different card games and activities, there can be a little more for parents to keep track of and organize for each lesson compared to a typical textbook/workbook program.
May have a learning curve for parents
RightStart Math teaches and practices math a little differently than many other programs out there and can be very different from how parents themselves have been taught math.
Consequently, parents may need to spend a little time reading up on the program and its philosophy to truly understand its goals and teaching methods.
Who Is RightStart Ideal For?
Students who enjoy understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing
Some kids enjoy being taught to do math quickly and correctly, while others tend to want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing, why problems are approached in certain ways and whether or not a problem can be approached using different strategies.
With its conceptual focus and strong emphasis on understanding math, RightStart can be a great solution for these latter students.
Parents who want to help their students develop strong critical thinking and reasoning skills
With a stronger focus on problem solving and math concepts, and an emphasis on encouraging students to reason through math themselves, RightStart can help students develop a deeper and stronger understanding of math and can help them hone their problem solving and logical thinking skills in the long run.
Homeschools looking for a well-scripted, open and go curriculum
With its clear instructions, illustrated and thorough lesson guides, lesson tips and detailed teaching script, RightStart Math can be surprisingly easy for parents to teach, even if their own skills in math are a little rusty.
Beyond organizing and bringing out the correct learning materials, there is very little in the way of prep work required to teach a lesson in this program.
Students who hate traditional review and revision
Although the program does make use of workbook exercises from time to time, it is not the sole means by which RightStart Math teaches and practices math concepts.
Instead, students also get the chance to reinforce, review and practice the math they learn through things like manipulative activities and different fun card games.
Students who enjoy multisensory and hands-on learning
RightStart Math is a very multisensory math program that strongly emphasizes the use of manipulatives to help students better grasp abstract concepts.
Consequently, it can be a great program for wiggly, tactile kids and those who prefer a more multisensory, activity-rich learning environment.
Parents who enjoy lots of interaction with their student while learning
Some parents get into homeschooling because they want to spend more time teaching their kids and watching them grow and develop as students.
With its constant back-and-forth dialogue and various card games and activities, parents in grades K-6 should get a lot of opportunity to learn alongside and, hopefully, bond with their students as they progress through their lessons.
Who Is It Not Ideal For?
Students who want a direct, to the point math program
Some students enjoy learning math concepts and exploring math deeply, but others may prefer a more direct approach, learning a single way to do things and practicing math through simple and straightforward right/wrong exercises.
Such students may get frustrated with conceptual math and by a hands-on/activity-based math program.
Busy parents who are looking for a self-teaching elementary math program
Although the middle school curricula are more independent than the elementary levels, by and large RightStart Math is designed to be teacher/parent-led and can be quite intensive in this regard, requiring lots of interaction between parent and student.
Consequently, it may not be best for busy parents looking for a more self-taught program.
Homeschools on a strict budget
Although its books are not the most expensive out there by any means, RightStart Math does require the use of an extensive library of manipulatives all the way through the program, which can add to its cost initially.
Note: All prices correct as of writing, all prices in USD.
By and large, RightStart Math isn’t the most complex homeschool math program we’ve seen in terms of required learning materials.
As mentioned previously, teaching the program requires a lesson guide, worksheets and (generally) a manipulatives kit.
The lessons guide and worksheets for each level can often be purchased as a bundle, saving parents considerable time and money, and cost about $97.50.
Additional consumable worksheet books can be purchased for those looking to teach multiple students, and cost (depending on the level in question) between $17.50 and $42.00.
In addition to the books, we recommend parents pick up a manipulatives kit, which include most of the different hands-on learning materials for grades K-8, as well as a Math Card Games book, which contain instructions for all the different card games the program uses for lesson practice and drill.
A complete manipulatives kit can be purchased for about $218.
For those on a budget, there is a Super Saver kit, which requires parents to supplement some of the manipulatives with home products (meter sticks, clocks, geoboards, etc) or second hand versions, but includes the most critical items, such as the AL Abacus and card game book.
A Super Saver kit costs about $126.50.
Of course, as with any other curriculum it is important that parents check for any discounts or special offers that might be available.
Is It Worth The Price?
RightStart Math may not be the absolute cheapest math curriculum to start, but it does offer a lot of value for parents and students in our opinion.
It is a very well-designed, organized and easy to teach program that helps students understand abstract and complex math concepts through the use of hands-on and multisensory demonstrations, activities and games.
Similarly, it offers students a number of different ways to develop strong skill fluency beyond simple memorization and drill, allowing them to practice what they’ve learned through fun and engaging card games and activities, as well as with workbooks that also include interesting hands-on exercises, something that’s not found in many other math programs.
In addition to teaching math in an approachable and interesting manner, RightStart Math also offers homeschools a rigorous and comprehensive K-8 math curriculum that can get them thinking creatively and critically about the math they encounter and that can help them understand what they’re learning on a deeper level than some other programs.
Finally, with its clear instructions and well-scripted dialogues, the program is surprisingly easy for even parents with little homeschool experience to pick up and start teaching.
Math isn’t always the most fun or interesting subject for students to learn.
But with its rigorous, yet approachable, multisensory teaching methods, and lots of interesting hands-on activities and fun card games to help reinforce and practice the learning, RightStart math can go a long way in helping students develop strong math skills with a minimum of tears.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.