In the 2018-2019 school year, I realized that I needed a new math program. I loved using Mammoth Math over the course of several years, but it just didn’t turn out to be the best fit for my children. I like how thorough the program is, but the number of problems on the page was visually overwhelming for my autistic children. They really grew to hate math. I needed something more kinesthetic and less visually distracting. I ordered Right Start Math and hoped it would be a great fit. This article reviews my experiences with using Right Start Math levels A and B.
Right Start math does not split their homeschool program into grade levels. Instead, the books are labeled by letters of the alphabet. The Right Start program teaches math skills using manipulatives and reinforces skills with games. There are some worksheet activities, but not on a daily basis. Right Start is purposefully not a worksheet program.
Overall Experiences with Right Start Math
I started going through level A to make sure that there were not any gaps in my children’s instruction. I used Level A and am part way through level B with my K and 2nd graders. We ended up skipping a lot of lessons in level A and level B. If my children already had a skill down, we skip the lesson. The lessons we do use are mostly involve geometry, measurement, time, and fractions. I started Right Start with my 4 year old, but lessons were quickly too difficult and we switched to something more developmentally appropriate for her.
Things I Liked about Right Start Math
Right Start does a great job teaching math concepts with manipulatives. The program has a manipulative kit that included items I had never used before, like a math balance. The 1″ tiles and 1 cm cubes are used for patterning and measurement. I really feel like Right Start makes good use of the included manipulatives. My kids also love using the manipulatives and the activities that go with them.
One of the best parts of Right Start math is that it didn’t feel like learning to my children. They just had fun using the manipulative and doing the lessons.
Things I Didn’t Like about Right Start Math
I disliked the included paper fraction pieces and ended up ordering a sturdy plastic set from Amazon to teach the fraction lessons.
Lack of Grade Level
It was really tricky trying to figure out which books cover which grade level content. I realize the company does this on purpose as they want children to master skills in sequence; however, I still think it would be nice to know up front the approximate grade level content that is covered in each book. Right Start does offer a free placement test to help you figure out which level to buy.
If you want a digital version of the worksheets, expect to pay more. Most companies offer digital versions at a discount, but not this one. I paid about $10 more for digital worksheets. To be completely honest, I hate their worksheets and ended up skipping most of them. The handwriting practice pages for numbers were too busy visually. If we needed practice problems for a lesson, I would handwrite the problem(s) on a piece of paper rather than print out a worksheet from Right Start.
Lack of Written Practice
Although the lack of written practice may be a draw to Right Start for many children, for mine I was concerned that skills may not generalize to other formats. My children are using another math program that has short daily practice to ensure skill mastery. CLICK HERE to read more about why Evan-Moor math ended up working well for my family.
Complex Numbers on the Abacus
Using the abacus to teach multi digit addition and subtraction in level B was very confusing for my child. I threw out the Right Start methods and bought some place value disks to work through the first introduction to regrouping in addition with 4-digit numbers. CLICK HERE to see how I taught regrouping with place value disks.
Summary of Evaluation of Right Start Math
|My Math Curriculum Standards||Notes|
|Aligns with State Educational Standards||No idea. Too difficult to evaluate when grade levels are not clearly indicated.|
|Content is Appropriately Challenging||Also difficult to evaluate as grade levels are not clearly indicated.|
|Learning Style||Curriculum may appeal to kinesthetic and visual learners.|
|Visual Layout||Quality of visual layout of worksheets varies.|
|Quality of Review and Practice||Review is build into the program.|
|Required Prep Time||Minimal. Mostly open-and-go.|
|Cost||Plan on spending around $90 per level. The manipulative kit is a one time cost of around $200.|
Final Conclusions on Right Start Math
I feel like Right Start is really strong on teaching conceptual skills with math manipulatives. It is also very strong on geometry and measurement skills. I know a lot of homeschooling families love Right Start, but it ended up not being a great fit for my children. Although I feel like my children benefited from many of the Right Start lessons, the number of lessons we skipped (due to previously mastered skills) made the program seem like it was a waste of money. Instead, I am looking for supplemental programs that use geoboards, the math balance, tangrams and other included Right Start manipulatives to continue to benefit from using the kinesthetic approach without the Right Start price tag.
Here are some of the supplements I plan on using instead of Right Start:
- Working with Tangrams for grades K-2
- Working with the Geoboard for grades 5-8
- Geoboard Activity Book for grades K-3
- Geometry and Fractions with Tangrams grades 3-6
If you do want to try Right Start Math, you can get free shipping and Bonus Smart Points if you purchase through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. The Co-op is free to join. CLICK HERE to learn more.