We're off to a good start! If you've been following my blog, you probably remember that we received RightStart Mathematics Level A (the Second Edition) near Christmas. We began using it with Lil' Sis (our kindergartener) this month. So far, we love it!
RightStart generously provided this program for us to use in return for our honest and sincere review and feedback. They did not ask nor require that I post a written review at this point, but we've been rather excited about it and I couldn't wait to share! The opinions and statements herein are entirely my own or that of my family. (I have NOT been financially compensated and am not an affiliate with Activities for Learning - the makers of Right Start Mathematics. The links in this post are NOT affiliate links.)
We've only been using RightStart for a few weeks so far and already there is so much I like about it! Plus, just yesterday, Lil' Sis declared that math is now her favorite subject! Yay! We have flipped through the entire level, looked over all the great manipulatives, and completed the first 20 lessons thus far. Our first impressions of the program are:
1. RightStart Math is fun! We had been using a good math program previously and my daughter enjoyed it, but so far, RightStart has her asking for more, smiling more, getting more excited, practicing math more without prompting, and saying math is more fun. There are songs, rhymes, multiple angles to grasping a concept, hands-on activities, and games (albeit very simple games so far). As if that weren't enough, it has inspired us with even more fun ideas of our own! For example, when the book discussed the terms "left" and "right", we decided to listen to the Hokey Pokey song and dance it out! When the book suggested using musical terms like Do Re Mi for early pattern labeling, we sat down that evening to watch The Sound of Music! (The girls spent a lot of time on subsequent days labeling every pattern we came across with the Do Re Mi song notes.)
2. The Lessons book is clear and well written. [This is essentially the teacher's guide.] Among the variety of homeschool materials we've tried and used, I've found relatively few that explain things clearly and professionally, aren't overwhelming, were edited properly, are well laid-out, are easy to follow, and have just enough background on the how and why of the program. I am loving the "explanations" column found in the second edition! It is in this space that the author includes additional thoughts, background info, important details, and side notes. It has helped me feel confident in what, how, and why I'm teaching my daughter the way things are shown in the lessons. It has boosted my faith in what we're doing and I don't feel as much like I'm blindly trusting there is rhyme and reason to a program, as I've felt with other things. Additionally, had it not been for this explanations column, I might have skipped over some things or just wondered why certain things mattered in the lesson. I also like that these explanations are not mixed in with the lesson itself, since that would likely interrupt my flow when teaching.
3. Few worksheets & plenty of learning! Among the math programs we've tried or used over the years, this one has the least worksheets (at least in Level A). This probably connects back to my first point about the program being more fun for Lil' Sis. Now, don't get me wrong, my daughters actually like worksheets and enjoy them... as long as there aren't too many or they aren't too long. I think the minimal number of worksheets in RightStart's Level A will help maintain this enjoyment for Lil' Sis and not crush it with the weight of too much writing. There is a student workbook for this program which does have worksheets for practice of various concepts, but it also has a good balance with hands-on learning as well. And at least for kindergarten and early elementary grades, I personally feel that the active, hands-on learning is very valuable. I prefer to limit desk work when possible. If, at some point, I do feel more written work is needed, there are free worksheet generators that I can utilize online to supplement. I haven't felt that has been necessary yet though.
4. It uses many angles to teach! No, I'm not talking about geometry here - at least, not yet. RightStart Math Level A seems to take the approach of teaching one concept from multiple approaches, utilizing the various senses, and challenging the child to understand and/or see the concept in more than one application. For example, even with something as simple as number and quantity recognition, they might have the child use tally sticks, colored tiles, the abacus, their fingers, and dot cards to see how the number appears in different ways. Then, the parent will clap that number of times, allowing the child to hear the quantity as well. They also incorporate a silly song and book. In other words, the child is experiencing the quantity, not just memorizing a symbol or learning to count. It might sound like this complicates something simple, but I feel it is, instead, solidifying the knowledge in a way that gives it more dimensions.
As something of a side note, I also want to say that the representatives I've had contact with at RightStart have been so helpful, kind, and genuine that I have gained respect for the company and their efforts. My initial impression is that they truly care about their products and the quality of their program.
Any negatives? I really don't have anything negative to say about our experience thus far, except, perhaps, that we do miss the colorful style of our old workbook. Okay... more accurately, I should say that I miss the colors. Lil' Sis hasn't seemed to notice and maybe that is because there are plenty of colorful manipulatives to keep her attention instead.
So that's it for now! I will continue to share our experience with RightStart Mathematics as we use it over the coming months. Follow my blog and Facebook page to see if our opinion of the program changes or stays the same and to see what other fun and interesting things we find as we go!
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.