**RightStart has lived up to its name for my family.** It has given both of my kids a great beginning in math. Thanks to RightStart, they both have excellent number sense and conceptual understanding, as well as confidence that they can figure out unfamiliar problems.

Even so, my son only used the first three levels of RightStart before switching to another program, and my daughter will likely do the same. **In this review, I’ll explain more about RightStart’s pluses and minuses to help you discern if it might be a good fit for your family. **

### Overview

RightStart is a comprehensive K-5 math curriculum. It is a **teacher-intensive, manipulative-heavy program**. Each level has a required workbook, but most of the teaching is in the teacher’s manual, and lots of one-on-one teaching is required . This is especially the case in the lower levels, as children are able to work a bit more independently as they progress to higher levels.

### Manipulatives and Visuals

While RightStart covers all of usual elementary math topics, **it really shines in its treatment of numbers and operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing). It helps children develop excellent number sense through a variety of carefully-selected visuals.** For example, in Level A, children represent the numbers up to 10 with their fingers, tally sticks, taps, beads on the abacus, and words in a song—and that’s just in the first eight lessons! The **AL abacus is essential tool** in the RightStart curriculum and is used frequently.

**RightStart helps children build computational fluency through careful development of the standard algorithms** (the usual procedures for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.) Well-chosen manipulatives and a gradual, step-by-step development of an algorithm over a series of lessons make it easy for children to understand not only how to use the algorithm but also why it works. I still remember the joy of my son’s “Aha!” moment in Level B when he suddenly realized that he could add four-digit numbers!

### Use of Games

**RightStart also helps kids build computational fluency through** **frequent use of games**. The games give kids a lot of practice with mental math and math facts, and many of them are genuinely fun, even for adults. This, plus the fact that there isn’t much writing in the early levels, makes RightStart a great choice for kids whose math ability is further along than their writing ability. The downside, though, is that playing games to cement math facts rather than doing a worksheet means more parent-directed teaching time.

### Teacher’s Manual

RightStart uses a **highly-scripted teacher’s manual** that tells you exactly what to do in each lesson. It even spells out the exact questions to ask, although you can always put the questions into your own words. This might be a drawback if you prefer a more flexible teacher’s manual, but it’s a great strength if you don’t feel confident teaching math and want a lot of hand-holding. You’ll also learn a lot while you teach, as the manuals introduce you to the reasons behind the method.

I appreciate that I don’t have to spend a lot of time prepping math each day but can just open the teacher’s manual and start teaching. However, even though I don’t have to spend much time prepping each lesson, I find I sometimes have to spend some time looking backward and forward in the table of contents to figure out where a series of lessons is headed, because RightStart uses a** spiral approach to learning**. There are no chapters or units, just a list of lesson titles. Dr. Cotter provides a little guidance in the teacher’s manual, but I’m often unsure whether a topic is supposed to be mastered or just introduced in a particular lesson.

### Lesson Length

Because it is so teacher intensive, **you need to plan to be present for the entire math session**, especially in the early years. Some moms report that they only spend fifteen or twenty minutes on each RightStart lesson, but some spend up to forty-five minutes.

### What type of learner thrives with RightStart?

RightStart’s wide variety of activities makes it a great fit for most kids, but **it’s especially well-suited for a sociable child who loves hands-on materials and games**. Children are encouraged to think through problems and make connections themselves, so it might be a little daunting for a child prefers to have everything explained by the parent and to be told exactly what to do in math—although this kind of child would probably benefit a lot from the critical thinking practice that RightStart provides.

### How much does RightStart cost?

Each year’s books cost $85. However, to get started with RightStart, you must buy upfront a manipulatives set that costs $180.

### Conclusion

**If you can afford the investment of money and time, RightStart provides an excellent introduction to math and helps set children on the path to becoming capable and confident at math. **It’s a great program for a child who likes conversational, hands-on learning and for a parent who has the time for lots of one-on-one instruction.

If you decide to go with RightStart Math, don’t miss out on your free copy of 5 Quick Tips to Help You Teach RightStart Math Like a Rock Star–all my best advice on using RightStart math, in a 2-page printable PDF.

*My curriculum disclaimer: You know your children far better than I do! Please take my advice with a grain of salt and use the samples to decide whether this curriculum is a good fit for you and your child. This review is my honest opinion–I am not affiliated with RightStart in any way and don’t make any money off of any purchase you make.*

*Updated April 2016. *

Rharris says

Why did you change after 3 levels? I am interested in this program, as well as horizons math. If I do horizons I would probably get the abacus and teach with the number sense as a goal…horizons does not really tell you how to teach a concept anyway. I am somewhat mathy and was exposed to the teaching for understanding and inquiry based learning in college teaching classes and math teacher conferences. It seems like a good idea and sure helped my basic math skills. That said I am suspicious of Asian math and any “new math” stuff. It was sure detrimental for my uncle to do new math on the 70,s or late 60’s and Abeka worked for me personally…I guess it makes me nervous to try something different. But this math program reminds me of AAR which is the Orton Gillingham based trading program I use and love in that both teach why then drill which makes tons of sense…any thoughts would be welcomed.

Kate says

I had two main reasons for switching. One was that I was ready for my son to have a little more independence in his math work, and RightStart is quite teacher-dependent. The other is that it is hard to condense RightStart. He was ready to move a little faster than the RightStart lessons were moving, and the spiral nature of the program makes it hard to combine lessons and move faster. It’s an excellent program–the daily lesson structure just wasn’t the best fit for us at that point.

I love how you sum up AAR (“here’s why, now practice”). I use AAS and like it for the same reason. If you like that approach, RightStart would probably be a good fit for you.

You’d probably be fine with Horizons if you use an abacus and manipulatives to teach number sense and conceptual understanding alongside the exercises. My one caution would be to be brutally honest with yourself about how much time and energy you’ll have to figure that out each day. For me, even though I write math curriculum, I don’t always have the energy on an average Tuesday morning to come up with a lesson from scratch, so I rely on printed curriculum (either my own or someone else’s) to at least guide me on a day-to-day basis.

Rharris says

The brutally honest part is so true hence the AAR. I am trained in Orton Gillingham but I got tired of always writing my own lessons…and I had a baby. I still write some practice sentences and stories for my son because he likes them and I tweak lessonsbm but I don’t always have to do anything. Thanks for the input. I found a used RS A teachers Manuel and so I am going to look at it. Buying used will also help with cost:) I don’t mind using the original program. Thanks.

Rharris says

Sorry to post another question. I can see perhaps using this program for a while then switching in 3rd or4th grade. (I have 3 kids 4.5 and under) How is the scope and sequence compared to a more traditional program? Would this be a problem?

Kate says

No worries, I’m happy to answer questions!

The scope and sequence is slightly different than other programs, but it’s still fine to switch. The biggest difference in the early grades is that Level B focuses mostly on addition (without much subtraction), so a child who switched after Level B to a different second-grade program might miss some of the early subtraction exposure. However, once a child has done Level C, he or she is on track with the more standard scope and sequence. As a result, a lot of families (including mine) do RightStart through Level C and then switch to something like Singapore or Beast Academy for third grade.

Debbie says

Hi Kate, thank you for this review of Right Start. I have been using it through K with my daughter, and there are MANY things my hubby and I love about it. He is the math-brain and specifically picked it at a home-school convention. It fits our daughter very well — she is the “sociable child who loves games and hands-on.” I love the way addition is introduced as “partitioning” and the endless variety of visuals that accompany concepts.

HOWEVER… I am getting concerned with three main things: 1. The lack of periodic assessments; 2. The — if I may say so — rather bizarre nature of the assessments; and 3. The way the concepts seem to be introduced willy-nilly and then forgotten.

Concern 1: I think my daughter needs more regular assessments, and although I “build” review into every 5 and 10 lessons, some concepts seem to be “let go.” For example, we are now on Lesson 35, but quadrilaterals, parallel and perpendicular lines are totally off the radar, and she has now almost forgotten them. I am wondering, ‘Why were they even introduced?”

Concern 2: The assessments seem strange to me. As I look ahead to the next assessment in Level A, it asks for my daughter to “show what under the table is.” I am wondering why it’s not asking her to give examples of parallel and perpendicular lines. 😉 She KNOWS what “under the table is.” And there isn’t much other to assess besides that and perhaps three other random things. That honestly seems strange to me.

Concern 3: I am concerned about my daughter not learning, for example, “8 + 7 + 3” before the end of first grade and not knowing how to compute something like that. I am seeing a huge swing from one lesson to another, and I don’t know now what to expect.

That said, STILL there are tons of things I like about this program. I wonder if there is a way for me to incorporate another curriculum — Horizons, for example — so that she is getting some of the nitty-gritty stuff??

Thanks for listening! I appreciate your advice.

Kate says

Hi Debbie,

Glad to hear that you and your daughter are enjoying RightStart! Here are my thoughts on the concerns you mentioned. (And bear in mind that I’ve only personally used the first edition, so I apologize in advance if anything I say doesn’t apply to the 2nd edition materials.)

First of all, I agree with you that several of the non-arithmetic topics in Level A feel a little random. There’s nothing wrong with introducing some of the geometry terms, but I’m not sure why they get so much focus. (My guess is that Dr. Cotter was initially trying to meet a specific states’ set of standards when she wrote the program in the 90’s, and so she included everything required by that state.) Your example about “under the table” is another good example of it. I suspect that these topics fall off the assessments because they’re truly not as important as the number sense, place-value understanding, and computational skills that kids are building throughout the program.

The spiral nature of the curriculum–those swings from lesson to lesson–can definitely be tricky to navigate. I’m personally a “big picture” kind of person, and so I don’t like not knowing where the curriculum is headed either. I often read ahead a few lessons to see where we’re going and to what degree the child is supposed to master the current lesson. But it does take a little figuring out!

The assessments in Level A are new, and so they may not be well-integrated into the program. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about them. The main point of assessment is help us teach our children better and remediate any gaps before they become big problems. But when you work with your child every day, you get a very clear picture of what your child has mastered and what your child needs to review.

RightStart is a very advanced kindergarten program, and your daughter will truly have an excellent foundation for higher-level math. But I do wish that the program explained itself a little more along the way to help parents understand what it’s trying to accomplish and how. I don’t recommend adding anything to the program, mostly because I think it’s usually better for us to pour our energy into teaching one program well than into cobbling together bits of this and bits of that.

You sound like you’re doing a great job with it–and having a kindergartner who likes math and is thriving at such advanced work is a big accomplishment!

Debbie says

Kate, thank you for the thoughtful reply! I would like to follow up just a little…

In reading some of the comments you made to the inquiry prior to my own, it sounds like you were very happy with the progress your kiddos made in math for those first three or so years with RS. That is encouraging to me. It sounds like, then, you didn’t feel that concepts had “flown off the radar” for them with the spiral nature of the program? From what you share, it sounds like the foundation for them — and what you anticipate for my own daughter — was excellent.

I don’t have my hands on a Level B or Level C yet, but it sounds like there is some discrepancy with a normal Scope and Sequence if ditching RS before making it through Level C. That said, let’s say we decided to do the same: May I ask if there is a program you would recommend hands-down after the switch? I ask because there is so much manipulative use and conceptual foundation with RS, so I would want to ensure that the switch to another program would have some consistency in that area. I fear something radically different in approach would confuse my daughter. Of course this is all hypothetical.

Thanks again!

Kate says

Hi Debbie, Yes, RightStart has given my kids a terrific foundation. They may have forgotten a few of the less essential ideas (for example, my now-9-year-old always had trouble remembering the difference between parallel and perpendicular until he studied it again in Beast Academy) but they have a deep understanding of numbers and operations and feel confident that they can understand math and solve challenging problems.

As you said, if you’re doing RIghtStart, sticking with it through Level C is a good idea so that your child masters the typical K-2 scope and sequence before switching. There’s no need to switch at that point, but if you wanted to switch, Singapore is an excellent choice. It’s certainly a little different than RightStart, but the overall focus on conceptual understanding and strong mental math skills is the same. My son didn’t have any trouble getting used to a different forma, so the transition was pretty smooth.

Debbie says

Once again, Kate, thank you. Your response to my questions was very encouraging to me. I have been looking ahead into RS Level A, and I am happy with the way I see the lessons progressing. Since you are not only a fellow home school mom, but also a mathematician and someone who has USED Right Start, it was tremendously helpful for me to get your advice. I appreciate it!

Rharris says

I am planning to use the original edition of rightstart a next year with my kindergartener (5 in a few weeks) I also bought the b teachers manuel (I found this all used). I was wondering how you supplemented. Did you just play extra games (I have the game book) and maybe use a kumon book if the children needed more practice? I think A will go pretty fast…he has done some math and likes it but I don’t want to push. I plan to start b partway into the year. Just wanting some ideas of how someone actually used this. Thanks

Kate says

I used A and B pretty much as written, without much supplementation. My son picked everything up quite quickly, so the games and warm-up activities were enough for him to master the material thoroughly. My daughter needed a little more practice with the addition and subtraction facts, so I used my Addition Facts That Stick and Subtraction Facts That Stick books’ games and worksheets for reinforcement. I also needed to adjust the pace more for her, dragging some lessons out and sometimes skipping a concept until she was ready for it. For some reason, she just could. not. get. the idea of subtraction at first, so I skipped it for a month or two and then came back to it when her brain seemed more ready.

You’ll likely get a sense of whether you need to supplement or adjust the curriculum as you go. Level A is very introductory, so you’ll probably be able to just whiz through for now.

Rharris says

Thanks. That is what I thought about A also. I am planning to whiz through it. Thanks for your thoughts.

Sarah says

Hi Kate, thanks so much for this review. I found you through the Your Morning Basket podcast! I have been planning to use RS level A with my first grader next year and was really encouraged by hearing about your experience and recommendation. I got to sit in a few workshops about RS at a homeschool convention last weekend and was even more sold on it than I was before. I was also homeschooled but I felt like my mom really struggled to find a good math program that she liked especially for the elementary years so I am so hopeful that my children will have a different experience than I did, one where they grasp the truth and beauty inherent in math that I don’t always even see. Your thoughts on YMB were excellent and inspiring as well toward that end! Thank you so much!

Kate says

So glad that you enjoyed the podcast, and that the review was helpful, Sarah! Enjoy Level A–it’s a lovely way to get started in homeschool math (both for kids and moms). 🙂

Eric Neumann says

Hi, Kate. We’ve got four littles: In September they will be 5.5, 4.5, 2.8, and 1. We are planning on starting the 5.5-year-old with RSM A; his only formal math lessons have been counting, connect-the-dots, and writing numerals, all in Kumon books. I’ve heard from you and others about how one-on-one RSM is, but also that Level A is appropriate for 4-year-olds. Do you think we could do joint lessons with both of our children? In many ways, my 13-months-apart children are like twins, but in other ways, my five-year-old is noticeably more advanced than my four-year-old. Are the games set up for three players? Is there a lot of conversation where my son can, in his enthusiasm and pride, answer all the questions and leave my daughter as a discouraged observer? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to best handle this. Or if there’s another curriculum that would still be conceptual but more suited to our situation. Thanks!

Kate says

Hi Eric,

I think it’d be well worth your while to give joint lessons a try and see how it goes. As you said, most 4-year-olds can handle Level A just fine, and your kids will probably enjoy having their math lesson together. Most of the games can be easily adapted to 3 players, or else the parent can simply observe and let the kids play. (In fact, that might be pretty ideal, since I’m guessing you’ll often be busy with your two littler ones!)

As far as lesson questions go, you will certainly want to establish some family norms for how questions get answered. There are enough questions that the kids can take turns most of the time, but you may need a “talking stick” or something else that they can physically hand back and forth to indicate whose turn it is to answer a question. Or, you could have them whisper in the answer in your ear so that both have a chance to answer.

There are certainly no guarantees that it’ll work, but I’d guess that it will work out great. If your 4-year-old is overwhelmed, you might drop back the difficulty level and try my “Preschool Math at Home” which leads nicely into RightStart. Or, if your 4-year-old is thriving, but your 5-year-old is bored, you may need to separate them and let your 5-year-old zoom ahead in the book. But that’s just one of those things that you likely won’t know until you try.

Sasha says

Hi Kate,

I bought a used edition of RS Level A from a friend at the end of my daughters kindergarten year. I really liked the straightforward lessons as I had been cobbling things together for that first hs year. I should have tested her as RS recommends but decided that I wanted to start with Book A when we got into our first grade year. I wasn’t a strong math student, so I wanted to learn the foundation of how this “new math” worked. The first 10 lessons felt repetitive to me and was stuff she had already mastered but I wasn’t feeling confident enough with hs to skip anything then. I also supplemented with Life of Fred and Bedtime Math. While it’s not her strongest subject because I don’t think there’s enough repetition for her, she grasps the concepts pretty easily and really likes math. I had some personal issues come up in the spring and so we never finished Book A. I had plans to finish up in the summer but that didn’t happen and here we are beginning second grade and still finishing up the last few lessons in A. In looking at B, it seems that it is a lot of the same material. Should I start in on B and just learn to be ok with the fact that she’s a grade behind or should I just teach the lessons in B that I think she needs some review and more experience with and try to condense it so that we can get her into C this year? Thank you!

Kate says

Hi Sasha, My advice would be to condense just the first part of B (the section that reviews level A), but then teach at whatever your usual speed is for the rest of B. It’s fine to hurry along a little, but I’d suggest not rushing too much. Level B is in many ways the most important level of the program. The mental math strategies, mastery of the addition facts, and deep understanding of regrouping and the place-value system are crucial to the higher levels, so they’re worth lingering on. Taking your time with B will likely save you time in the long run—when the foundation is firm, it’s a lot easier to build on top of it.

That said, first edition level C is extremely looong. (It takes many families a year and a half.) I’d definitely suggest talking to the RightStart customer service people and seeing if you can switch to 2nd edition for C so that you don’t get bogged down and worry about dropping further behind grade level.

Sasha says

Kate thank you for your taking the time to answer my question. Good, sound advice and it gives me some insight on what to expect from Levels B and C.

June Kauder says

Hi Kate,

Do you have reviews of any schools using this program? I have a teacher friend who is struggling to find an appropriate math curriculum for her junior high special learners.

Thanks,

JK

Kate says

Hi June, I don’t personally know of any schools that use the program, but they do put out a classroom version of the program. I’ve heard their customer service folks are extremely helpful, so they’d be good people to talk to if your friend would like to find out more.

I think it’s a a great program for kids of any age who struggle in math–I used a lot of its material to help get a 4th grader get up to grade level. Your friend might also be interested in looking at the RightStart Arithmetic Kit. It’s a streamlined version of the whole curriculum that would allow her to work though the basics of arithmetic in a focused way.

Marie says

Hi Kate,

I’m so thankful to have found your website, and appreciate the many hours you spend in helping us moms tackle the job of math education in our homes!!

I started my older two three years ago with Singapore Primary Mathematics, it went ok for awhile but eventually my oldest son was is tears over camping so long on the same topic, and I think it was too abstract for my very young first grader. She and I had a math battle most days. This fall my son started Beast Academy and is thriving with it, and I switched my daughter to Right Start B. We are now in lesson 51 of RSC. She seems to like RS and enjoys the games, but we spent all week on subtraction, and she’s know her facts through 20 for a while now. I don’t feel like we are making forward progress and I’ve tried to combine/ skip some of the lessons, but I hesitate to do this too much as I don’t want to skip anything foundational.

You should also know I have a son in K and daughter in pre-K. RS A is my favorite curriculum for this age and I wish I would have started my older two with it. It is a perfect fit for my Wiggly Willy son, and the lessons are fun……………when we actually have time to do them! The reality is we are only doing 1-2 lessons per week.

All that to say, I’m considering going back to Singapore with my daughter(age 7), for these reasons 1) I would like to feel confident we are making progress in math, instead of spending so much time reviewing a topic she knows well , 2) I think I understand the Singapore method better after teaching RS, and would hopefully do a better job teaching it, and 3) I would like more time to teach my K son with the RS curriculum.

Any thoughts or advise?

Kate says

Hi Marie, That’s where I got bogged down in RightStart as well. I love levels A and B, for all the reasons you mentioned, but it definitely starts to feel like a slog halfway through C, and it’s not easy to compact or accelerate.

Moving back to Singapore for your 7-year-old sounds like it makes a lot of sense for you. (It’s what I ended up doing, too, as a transition between RightStart and Beast Academy.) You might want to keep using the games from RightStart to continue to add some fun to the lessons and ease the transition to more bookwork, but otherwise you should be good to go. Also, you may want to keep using the abacus and place value cards from RightStart as needed to demonstrate the algorithms and mental math strategies concretely.

Hope that helps! 🙂

Marie says

Yes, your comments do help! Thanks!

Debbie says

Kate,

Last May I had a few concerns about RS, and you gave me some guidance (see comments above). For awhile afterward we plowed ahead really well with RS, but lately I just don’t know: Honestly, it seems quirky to me. 😉 Maybe that is okay because Math can be quirky. In one of the previous comments you suggested seeing it through until Level C. We are finishing Level A this year (my daughter is in first grade), and that means two more years of RS, and I just don’t know if I can do it. As I said before, there are things about it I love; there are other things that I just find strange.

My daughter is VERY good at Math. She also loves the hands-on stuff. I feel like we are getting bogged down, and I also feel dislike the way some of the concepts are taught (i.e: place value). So I am seeing it through Level A, the end of this year, and then I feel like I need to seriously consider making a switch as my daughter begins Second Grade. I do not know for certain we will make a switch, but I think my hubby and I need to assess things come the school year’s end.

That said, you recommended Singapore being a good alternative, but that was your recommendation if we decided to switch “after Level C.” So hypothetically, if we find we need to switch AFTER LEVEL A, may I ask: What program would you suggest as the “easiest” transition for my daughter as she begins SECOND GRADE? Again, she is quite good at Math, and she loves the hands-on.

Thank you, Kate!

Kate says

Hi Debbie,

If you’re finding that RightStart isn’t a good fit for you, I’d recommend just going straight to Singapore 1st grade. Now that you’ve worked with RightStart for a while, you can always use the abacus and place value materials as manipulatives for illustrating the first grade concepts. Much as I love RightStart for the beginning years, it’s certainly not the only way to learn math. I love all the freedom we have as homeschoolers to switch things up!

Kate

Debbie says

Kate,

Thank you. So to make sure I understand correctly: I would begin Singapore First Grade math with her as she begins Second Grade come next Fall? I assume that would be necessary to “fill in any gaps” she may miss by not doing RS Level B? (It may be a scenario where we decide to “do some math” over the summer, anyway).

If we find she is catching on rather quickly with Singapore First Grade — because again, she is very good at Math — would it be advisable to try to get her to the Singapore Second Grade as soon as possible?

You can probably tell my main area of concern right now is that she not “get behind” or have too many “gaps” with a curriculum switch, especially because she does enjoy math so much and it seems to come rather quickly to her.

I appreciate your insight, Kate.

Thank you,

Debbie

Kate says

Hi Debbie,

Definitely look over the Singapore placement tests to confirm (found at http://www.singaporemath.com/Placement_Test_s/86.htm). But I’d expect that Singapore 1A would be the place to go after RightStart A. Singapore 1A covers two-digit addition and subtraction much more thoroughly than RightStart A, and it’s definitely essential for moving forward to the second grade books. Since your daughter learns math quickly, you may find that there are topics that you can work through fairly quickly, without doing every page or lesson. But I wouldn’t try to rush it too hard. Singapore really builds concepts step by step over the years, so you don’t want to miss any of the building blocks. Singapore is generally considered “ahead” of American textbooks, so she’ll still be roughly equal to same-age peers.

Debbie says

Kate,

Yes, I noticed the free placement test on their site — thanks!

At the risk of driving you crazy with questions, I have one more scenario for you: Let’s say we decide to go ahead and stick with it, and we use RS Level B for next year (her Second Grade year) after all, and then decide to switch. Do you think it would be better to cut the ties now, or do you think it would be okay to do one more year of RS before switching?

Thanks,

Debbie

Kate says

No worries, Debbie. I can talk math curriculum all day long! 🙂

I really think either way is fine. If you do RightStart B, you should be fine going straight to Singapore 2A. But if you want to stop now and go to Singapore 1A, that’s great, too. Both are terrific programs, and there’s enough review in these early levels that you shouldn’t have any problems with gaps.

Lauren Longenecker says

Kate,

I love your blog and your reviews are so helpful. My oldest is about to be 7 (boy) in first grade. We have been doing Saxon Math, level 2 this year. Kindergarten last year he completed and successfully grasped Saxon level 1. We seem to have hit a wall in Saxon thus far this year. Facts that he knew before he now has trouble figuring. Is this normal? I was researching Right Start since I have 3 younger children who would be coming up and have wondered if it may be worth our while to switch over. What are your thoughts between the two?

Do you have any other suggestions on how to re-engage the 7 year old’s love of math? It has deflated in the past few months and it’s devastating.

Kate says

Glad you’ve found the blog helpful, Lauren!

Kids sometimes take a step backward when they’re learning something new, so it’s certainly possible that his brain is just making new connections and not processing so quickly in the mean time. But if he learned the facts mostly by rote, it may be that he simply isn’t remembering them and needs to either review them more and learn them in a more strategy-based way.

As you’ve probably seen in your research, RightStart and Saxon are very different programs. Saxon works fine for many families, but it’s not a program that I recommend. I could write a whole blog post about it (and perhaps should!) but my main issues with it are:

1. Jumping from one topic to another makes it difficult for kids to really master topics. They don’t have several days in a row to focus on just one topic.

2. Saxon is very procedural in its teaching: here’s WHAT to do. I believe kids thrive most in math when they have a mix of procedural and conceptual teaching: here’s WHAT to do and WHY.

3. The problem sets are very long and tedious. They’re more than most kids need, and all that repetition can really make kids hate math.

That said, some families love it and have been very successful with Saxon. It has a long track record in the homeschool community, but I believe there are better options out there now–including RightStart. 🙂

Anne says

It is so validating to read that RS C (1st ed.) can take a year and a half for many families. I have been plodding along with my 3rd grader, and I figured I must’ve gone wrong somewhere. Or perhaps math was harder for him than I thought….but my instincts said he was doing fine! We are about to start division. I don’t like math lessons to go too long and have split lessons and practice up quite often. I also try to stick to the lessons and not skip much because so much has been said or written about the wonderful nature of the program. However, this article also validated an unarticulated concern: I couldn’t tell where the curriculum was going. I felt rudderless but was trying to be trusting! 🙂 I am considering a curriculum jump after we finish RS C despite finding D for a great price. Thank you for your article! Looking forward to poking around your site more.

Kate says

Ooh, Anne, that’s one of my biggest challenges in homeschooling: deciding how much to trust the curriculum and how much to adapt and tailor it to my own kids. It’s definitely a balancing act, and I’m glad the article helped you validate how you’re feeling about RightStart. 🙂

annie says

Hi Kate,

Thanks for all the information you share through your site. I have also worked through Addition Facts that Stick with my daughter and it has been great. I am working through Right Start B with daughter age 7. She is not a natural learner, most things are a struggle. Right Start has been great, but we are almost through her second grade year and have not covered subtraction! We are also heading into lessons on vertexs and symmetry. I am beginning to think we need to move to something a little more traditional and something that takes just a little less of my time. . My other kids have done Christian Light Education Math, but I also have Math u See manipulatives in the house. Do you have any thoughts on a good path for us?

Thanks.

Kelli says

Hello! Let me say I am so very thankful for your web site and advice.

If we complete RS A, B, C for kindergarten, 1st and 2nd, where would you advise we pick up Singapore? 3A?

I’ve also had recommendations to use Singapore through grades 3-6, and then move to Saxon for 7-12. Would this make sense to you? If not, do you suggest Singapore through the middle and upper grades, or do you recommend another program?

Thank you!

Kate says

Hi Kelli,

Yes, 3A is a good place to start after Rightstart A, B, and C. Both programs get kids roughly to the same place at that point: fluent in multi-digit addition and subtraction, and with a beginning understanding of multiplication and division.

I’m just at the beginning of researching middle school and high school programs (my oldest is just turning ten), so I’m afraid I’m not much help there yet!

Happy Math!

Kate

Lisa says

Hi Kate,

I am using RightStart and it has been a great program for my kinesthetic daughter. She is 11 and we had a slow start to Math understanding and so we took our time. We are about halfway through Level D. I am considering changing to something else for next year, that we could move ahead with. I see you recommend Singapore which I really like the sound of and I am going to look more into. Would it be visual enough for her? Also, have you had any experience with Teaching Textbook, as this is the program I was looking at moving her into?

Thank you.

JENNifer says

Hi Kate,

My 5 year old son just completed Singapore Earlybird Kindergarten Workbook B. While we still like the Singapore method of teaching, I am planning to switch to Right Start because he is a very “hands on” learner and loves games. We also ended up doing much of the Singapore book orally because although he understood the math he tired with the writing. Given that he has already completed and understands Singapore K workbook, would you recommend Level A or B of RS? I also anticipate switching back to Singapore at some point once his fine motor skills improve but want to give RS a try for this coming year. Would the transition be smoother to switch back to Singapore after level B or C? I’m trying to get a big picture in my head 🙂 Thank you! I appreciate any advice!

Kate says

Hi Jennifer, I’d recommend going with RightStart A. It goes much deeper than Earlybird, especially with place-value. Just feel free to move quickly through lessons where your son already knows the material.

It doesn’t make a difference whether you transition back to Singapore after level B or C, but Level C is probably a slightly smoother transition. Singapore teaches addition and subtraction together, while RightStart focuses more on addition in Level B and subtraction in Level C. So, having your child master both addition and subtraction before going back to Singapore may make placement easier. (He’ll probably be ready for Singapore 3A at that point.)

Earlybird to RightStart A is actually what I did with my daughter, and it worked well. I ended up moving her back to Singapore after level B, but that was mostly due to style and not content. She preferred more independent work, so Singapore was a better curriculum for her at that point.

Happy Math!

TinaY says

My almost 10 yr old is half way through Right Start D and, while there are things I LOVE about it, I’m considering a switch. Its the only curriculum we’ve done. He definitely needs more practice and review (neither of us super love the games, and they don’t seem to help much, so I create my own practice worksheets), and I think he’d really benefit from a more mastery-based program. We just start getting the hang of something and are switched to another (seemingly unrelated) topic. By the time we circle around to the first thing again we almost have to start over. He struggles to remember facts but does well with various tricks. He has a great abstract concept of math and number sense because of RS. His mental math is good, but he sometimes needs reminders of the procedures. He’s very slow to process things and loses focus. He’s a whiz at word problems. RS has finally helped ME understand and be confident with math, so I love teaching it because I get to learn, but I’m not sure if its best for the actual student in the family. 😜

After reading through your articles I’m leaning towards Math Mammoth or Singapore. He’d love the idea of Beast, but I think it’s be too challenging for him as his confidence isn’t very high. MathUSee is tempting because of the videos, as he learn really well from videos but I am afraid he’d be bored.

He’s my only student so I’ve got plenty of time. Colors, etc aren’t important. He enjoys word problems. I need helps as my math skills are poor.

Would you have a suggestion for us?

Kate says

Hi Tina,

That’s fantastic that RightStart has laid a great foundation for your son, but I can see why you’re thinking about a switch. Based on what you wrote, I’d recommend Singapore over Math Mammoth. Both are great programs, but Singapore offers a full teacher’s guide, while Math Mammoth only offers some general teaching suggestions. With Singapore, you’ll be able to continue learning and growing as a math teacher more easily than MM. I think you’ll find it much more satisfying!

Happy Math!

Kate

TinaY says

Thank you so much Kate. I greatly appreciate the suggestion and all your site has to offer.

Catherine Knight says

Hi Kate,

I had planned using RSM with my child when we got to school-age (just turned 4). I still plan on doing so, but after reading this I have a few questions:

1) If she continues to show signs of math giftedness, I was going to switch her over to Beast Academy. BA will eventually have a second grade level. But according to this, RSM won’t have covered subtraction yet. Would you recommend holding off on BA until 3rd, evrn if a 2nd grade is available?

2)officially, our Charlotte Mason-based homeschool doesn’t start until age 6, which for us, is the beginning of first grade. She can already add on fingers and beads and do even/odd. If I held off until 1st grade, could we start with B?

Alaina says

I have a 9 year old nearly done with teaching textbooks level 3. She gets average scores on her lessons, in the 80s. However, I don’t feel like she has a solid enough foundation to proceed to the next level. One example. She counts by five and ten easily. Knows the value of money. But if we have 1.25 and need to add a dime (which she knows is worth ten) she has no idea. Her multiplication table is not yet memorized. We’ve been working on it, but it’s made her Progression difficult as now she’s learning 3 digit multiplication and division. I own all the levels of teaching textbooks as I was so hesitant to teach it on my own, and I have 7 kids ranging from 15 to 6 months. I hate to invest in a completely different program but I want to help her build a better understanding. I also have a 3 and 5 year old that I could start working with them. So. I have 2 main questions. First, do you think pausing TT to do level B or maybe C would be beneficial? I’ve always been interested in RS but honestly the time commitment scared me off each time. But really those early years need mom and hands on stuff. So I’m willing to change our schedule to accommodate one on one work. Next, what is your overall opinion of TT? I used to love it. Now I’m feeling a little less sure …..

Kate says

Dear Alaina,

RightStart is a wonderful program….but honestly, the full program is really time-consuming. I found it difficult to contemplate with 2 kids, let alone 7. I wouldn’t recommend it for you, but I hear what you’re saying about your concerns with your 9-year-old. Your money example definitely shows a lack of understanding that I’d want to address sooner rather than later. Instead of going for the full program, I’d suggest looking at RightStart’s Arithmetic Kit and Worksheets for the AL Abacus. They’re a stream-lined version of the RightStart program, and good for helping older kids fill in conceptual gaps. (They’re way less expensive and time-consuming than the full program, too. 🙂 Once you work through it with your 9-year-old, you’ll likely learn a lot as a teacher that you’ll be able to bring to your 5 and 3 year old as well.

Regarding TT, I’ve never done a thorough review of the whole program, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I bet you know it better than I do! My main concern with it is that it’s very easy for children to mindlessly follow the steps they see on the screen unless they have a parent talking them through the lessons and holding them accountable for actually thinking. Building the habit of understanding what you’re doing in math takes a lot of practice (and prodding!) TT and screen-based programs can definitely work for some kids, but others tend to start working pretty mindlessly.

Happy Math!

Kate