Months ago a homeschooling mother mentioned RightStart Math on a blog I read. Since I adore good concept based curricula I clicked through her link to check out the program and fell in love. In fact, I'm pretty sure the seed for my current fascination with homeschooling was planted right there. A couple of months ago when I decided to take things to the next level RightStart Math was high up on my list of programs to investigate.
RightStart Math focuses on building a strong conceptual understanding of math concepts rather than memorization of facts and strategies. The program is extremely hands-on and involves heavy use of manipulatives and multisensory learning. The core tool of the program is a special abacus that is grouped into fives and tens for quick visual recognition of quantities. The program is divided into five levels A through E that correspond roughly to taking a child through a grade school math curriculum. They recommend you start Level A at age 5 or sooner.
I decided to get the deluxe starter kit for Level A (pictured above) which includes the Level A teachers manual, student book, and all accessories necessary to teach the complete lessons in the book. I got two abacuses so that both of my children could use an abacus at the same time. Check out a sample of the RightStart Level A teacher's manual. Everything arrived promptly nicely packaged in a large box. So far, I've only unboxed/unwrapped the items I've needed for the lessons we've done so far.
So far we've done the first five lessons (the first four are included in the sample pages you can check out for free and the first four only require items you can find around your home if you'd like to check the program out before purchasing). Each lesson is a two page spread in the manual and the lessons have been easy to follow so far. I read through the lesson ahead of time and gather any materials I will need to teach the lesson and make some notes. Here's the next lesson we're about to do in the teacher's manual and some notes I made about modifying the lesson.
Now, due to an early childhood where I was taught to NEVER make marks in books I still can't bring myself to write in books so I make copies of the lessons and keep them in a single binder with the lessons for other things we're working on. I also keep the progress chart I made for RightStart Level A in the binder along with other random supplies we need for our lessons. After we do each lesson I make notes about how it went and move it to a finished section in the binder. Feel free to download and use the progress chart if you happen to be using RightStart Math Level A with a student (or students).
I've taken to keeping all the supplies for our math lessons on a single tray so that when the time comes for a lesson all I have to do is grab the tray and my lesson binder. So far, the lessons generally take about 10-15 minutes and then I let the children play with the manipulatives on the tray as long as they like. I use that time to make notes, read through the next lesson, and stock the tray with whatever I'll need for the next lesson. The kids love the math lessons and are excited every time I pull out the math tray.
In summary, I'm extremely pleased with RightStart Math. The children adore it and look forward to math time more than anything else we are working on so far. Now, we've only done 5 lessons at this point, so this review is based upon my initial impression of the program and its materials and the initial responses of my children to the first five lessons.