I cannot recommend the Right Start Math Games highly enough! This is an easy to read guide of games that use cards. While some of the directions were hard for me to follow at first, once we got into gameplay it was very simple, probably because I am a visual and kinesthetic learner.
My daughters, who I have been homeschooling for four years do not like math. They absolutely, totally, thoroughly, and completely detest math. That is my fault. My homeschooling aspirations and goals were ridiculously high in our first few years. I could say that between my youngest two children, math has been what may have broken me on any bad day we have had.
Here is what we reviewed:
I recommend this for starting if you have none of the materials. It is a great deal and includes all of the pieces you need to get playing right away. BONUS: Pre-recorded webinars and Math Card games videos on the website!
Time, Money & Math
When I talked to a Right Start representative at a conference, I felt encouraged that I could do this, and then I realized the investment. Not just financial, but time. This is what I had none of. But our family was in desperate need of some math healing so that my kids could navigate and master the math that is all around them! Also, my sweet 10 year old, the one diagnosed with some learning challenges needed some math success! My 12-year-old is pretty much on track academically but was often frustrated by her own ability (or lack thereof).
I received the Right Start box full of manipulatives, and let my kids dive in! They immediately pulled out the different pieces and parts. They found some more interesting than others. One child pulls out a bag of brightly colored squares, “What do we use this for mom?” Another child picks up the abacus “What is this thing. An instrument? How does this work?” Then they pull out a back full of stacks of cards, “Is this a game? Mom, will you play a game with me?”
The Right Start Math Game Book is a great start for any family. In fact, even if you don’t use the full curriculum, you should get this book! The games are fun! We recently packed a few games to take camping and I told my daughter to grab the cards. She packed all of the Right Start cards we had; she thinks they are fun enough to take on vacation! I read in the introduction that 10-15 minutes of a game is the same as a worksheet! My daughters love these card games, especially the games with the corner cards.
Level D Starter Kit
Level D Book Bundle
If you are not a current user of Right Start you will need to add the math set which is a complete set of manipulatives and a one-time purchase. Enter Level D. I love that the levels are given letters, not numbers. Right there, we have confidence. Her book doesn’t say third grade it says level D. It may seem like a small thing, but as any mom knows, those little things can really mean A LOT!
Also, it is not an overwhelming page of math problems. There are activities for teaching and an explanation of why you are doing that activity. It doesn’t matter if your child is new to the curriculum. It goes through a review in the first 11 lessons. These may take a long time and you may need to step back a level, at least to really hit the concepts your child is struggling with. Conversely, your student may fly right through the lessons! No matter the outcome you are being set up to move your child forward successfully.
You want the lessons to be challenging, but not hard. Both you and your child should walk away with an understanding of the lesson. If not, play more games before you move on. The joy of homeschooling your child is meeting them where they are at. If you are completely new to Right Start Math, the reviews are as much for you as for your child. You will learn a little about how to use the manipulatives, some tricky vocabulary, and you may realize you are more than a little rusty on your mental math. This program sets you up for successful teaching.
There are activities online that you can view to help you get a grasp of this as well. With any new curriculum, you will need to invest a little of your time in getting comfortable with it. I can certainly say that I felt this one was worth the time especially with the growth and confidence I saw in my daughter.
We are still working on this level, but the foundation is definitely being built. Her number sense has improved beyond what I ever expected. My daughter loves challenging me on the games, and when I mess up and she corrects me! It is empowering. I am not messing up intentionally at all, she is becoming a much quicker thinker than I am.
I went into this level with my 6th grader. If you aren’t sure which level to start with, have your student take the free placement test available with Right Start. I was initially thinking it would really just be a stress-free time together and her chance to show me what she knew and understood. I found that while she knows formulas very well, she doesn’t understand “the why” to many formulas.
We started with the review, and that went pretty well, but then we got really excited by the other lessons looking ahead. We are still working through it, but I anticipate continuing into level F when we are finished. We haven’t done all of the worksheets, because once she has mastery of a concept, we just move on.
This level while “easy” for my daughter, is so much more concrete. There was a lot of guessing going on before she was able to see how the pieces fit. The manipulatives lead to a deeper, bigger understanding. A fun lesson -14: One to the millions. Even my 14-year-old had never really visualized what that would look like in the context of cubes…who am I kidding? I hadn’t truly visualized it!
This program sets your child up very well with a great foundation. It leads to fewer mistakes and much more enjoyment and success; it is truly a fun program. So many things are even clicking better for me than they ever did. While there are worksheets for many of the lessons, I love the math journal that is included. This helps your child own the material better than they could with textbook. It also prompts you to ask a question at the end to see what the child has learned. In my home, we have begun asking, “when,” and, “how will you use this?” It is actually amazing what the kids will come up with.
- Online Support: No matter what kind of learner you are, you can learn how to teach this program to your child. You can use the guide they give you or you can go online to watch the webinars available. In fact, the webinars are available for anyone to watch. Take a peek!
- Teacher Intensive: I was worried about the amount of time I had available to do this with my children. Then I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the time not to take the time. With any task, skill, or new information you are going to teach your children, it is so important to teach it well. If you don’t what happens? You get frustrated. They get frustrated. You halfway re-teach…because you already did it once. You send them off, they get frustrated, you get frustrated. The cycle begins. Instead, teach your child well, which means having the right tools yourself. I decided I didn’t have the time not to give this the time.
- FUN: Right Start Math made math fun!
- Preparation Time: can be tricky and time-consuming. I felt like I didn’t know how to teach my child math at all. Some of these exercises and activities seemed pointless, and then some seemed so hard. Guess what, struggling a bit through it with my child was humbling. I didn’t like that little bit of frustration, however, the reward when we got it was so empowering!
- Teacher Intensive: I can understand how this could be a tricky curriculum for a family with lots of children on different levels. There are definitely ways to work around but it will take some thought.
- Cost: It felt pricey to me. The manipulatives did anyway. After I really evaluated though, I decided it is very cost-effective. It almost seemed overly simple to me.
- Not enough Work: This program felt like play and not work so I was planning on “filling in” with worksheets. NO NEED! What I needed was a shift in thinking!
And if you are looking for guidance for your student from a teacher who is not you, take a look at the True North Homeschool Academy Math Games I, Math Games II, and Math Games III. These programs utilize the Right Start Math Curriculum and the games that are mentioned here to build a strong foundation for those who are struggling or who just need more practice. For a limited time, take 10% off all math classes (K-12) on our website – use code TNMA10 at checkout until August 3, 2020.
Right Start Math gave me the paradigm shift I needed for my child’s Math Success!
Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals. While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.
Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University. Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program. Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online. She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.
Rebecca will be teaching Jr High Science, World Geography, and Logic with True North Homeschool Academy.
Strengthening Executive Functioning
Executive functioning skills regulate, control, and manage one’s thoughts and actions. To put it succinctly, executive functioning skills are what manage the brain.
You probably don’t even think about your own executive functioning or that of others. Unless, of course, you are confronted with a situation in which executive functioning is not, in fact, functioning. Most of us intuitively understand the importance of executive functioning and have a sense of what it is as well as a concern when we don’t “see” it in others. Certain times of fast growth, such as the tween/teen years can affect a child’s executive functioning, especially as the teen brain/body is doing some “Brain Pruning.”
But for some people, executive functioning is more naturally difficult or possibly impaired. These diagnoses can include ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Processing Disorders, Dementia, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
Three Main Categories of Executive Functioning Skills
- The ability to pay attention and to organize
- The ability to plan and prioritize; being organized during tasks school or work and the ability to set and meet goals
- Task initiation- taking action to get things done (motivation)
- Keeping key information in mind while completing a task
Cognitive Flexibility (Flexible Thinking)
- Understanding different points of view
- Being able to adjust behavior to an unexpected change in the environment or schedule
- Regulating one’s own emotions, including controlling and appropriately channeling one’s feelings
- Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you are doing) and self-awareness (how is one doing in the moment).
- Controlling urges to “do”, thinking before acting or responding, exhibiting deferred gratification as well as perseverance.
Obviously, executive functioning skills are important – they allow us to interface with the world appropriately, build, and keep significant relationships and hold jobs.
How Do Executive Functioning Disorders Manifest?
People with executive functioning issues may exhibit one or more of the following:
- Impulse or emotional control
- The ability to begin, organize, plan and follow through on task completion
- The inability to listen or pay attention
- The inability to manage one’s time
- The inability to multi-task or juggle multiple tasks, even if they are sequential
- Short term memory issues, including an inability to remember what they’ve just heard
- Difficulty following a sequence of steps
- Difficulty changing from one task to another
- Socially inappropriate behavior such as angry or aggressive behavior, statements about self-harm or destruction of property
If you suspect you or someone in your family has issues with executive functioning, all is not lost! You can accommodate or learn coping skills.
Teaching Coping Skills
Tips and tools to ramp up those executive functioning skills include:
- Visual schedules
- Positive reinforcement
- Organizational techniques
- Working memory exercises
- Item lists
- Self-emotional recognition techniques
- Flexible seating
- Slowly introducing differences in schedules to provide flexible thinking
- Extra transitional times
- Frequent breaks
- Timers or alarms during tasks
- Explicit instruction
- Organized homework or assignment binder
- Parent/student contract agreement
- Clearly defined academic and social expectations
- Logic games, puzzles, and coursework
Executive Functioning is the management of the brain. For kids with executive functioning disorders, it is important to fortify them with resources, materials, and processes that will help them with those struggles throughout life. ~Lisa Nehring
Resources and Support
If you need to be better equipped in this area, you will want to join us for our SPED Equipping Membership! We focus on providing support, encouragement and tools for special needs families all week long. We host weekly Equipping seminars with discussions, a Book Club, and Coffee and Chat! You may also want to find out about our current special needs discounts, check out a listing of resources here and read our blog post, Executive Functioning and Why it Matters in Your Homeschool.
After the Diagnosis: Next Steps
If your child was just diagnosed with a learning disability or a special need of any kind, there can be a myriad of feelings, to deal with such as shock, concern, fear, relief, confirmations, anger or sadness, to feeling overwhelmed with further questions-the biggest of which is, “Now what?”…
After receiving a diagnosis, following these next steps can be helpful for you and your child.
Learn all you can about your child’s diagnosis, while recognizing that your child is more than the particular diagnosis or label.
Nobody loves your child more than you or wants to see him succeed and meet his full potential more than you. By learning about your child’s diagnosis and different abilities, you can grow in understanding how to better support him, as you continue to be your child’s fiercest advocate and loudest cheerleader.
Investigate treatment options, such as therapies, interventions, and possible medications.
A great place to start is your child’s pediatrician or the diagnosing professional. You may also want to consider seeking holistic treatments by working with an integrative physician. There are more and more types of therapies available for various disabilities and special needs. Many therapy treatment options exist–from art and music therapy, pet and equine therapy, to behavioral and cognitive therapy, in addition to more “traditional” or standard speech/language, vision, physical and occupational therapies.
Seek support for your child and the family.
You can find parent and children support groups, such as Decoding Dyslexia and Eye to Eye Mentoring, as well as national charitable organizations, such as Scottish Rites, Easter Seals and the ARC that offer parent and family resources, supports, directories, grants/scholarships, etc. Also, non-profit organizations such as Joni and Friends, provide resources, a directory for disability ministries across the country, and family camps.
Talk with your child about his diagnosis and teach him to self-advocate.
Your child needs to understand that his diagnosis does not define him. There are many bright and successful people with disabilities. In fact, it is estimated that 1:5 people have a learning disability. Help your child come to understand what his difficulty or disability is and how it may impact him, but also teach him ways to work around it. Also, help your child recognize the ways he is smart and what are his areas of strength. The book, 8 Great Smarts, by Dr. Kathy Koch is a great resource. Self-advocacy is an important, empowering life-skill. Resources such as The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss, Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia, LDAdvisory, and Understood.org are a few examples of places to find resources to educate your child and teach him how to advocate for himself.
Make a plan for reasonable accommodations for the student and discuss these with your student and other adults/teachers, such as those in your community of faith, coaches, music teachers, and co-op leaders/teachers.
Accommodations level the playing field and help students to take in information or show forth what they know. Some common accommodations are extra time, use of audio books, dictation or oral assessment, or frequent breaks, to name a few. It is a good idea to keep a written record of the educational accommodations you will be providing to your student, in your home school file.
Be encouraged that you are your child’s best teacher, and home education is an excellent individualized educational plan.
While home education, due to its very nature, is an individualized educational plan, for homeschooled students with special needs, drafting a written, student education plan can be wise. True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs Advising and HSLDA’s Special Needs Educational Consultants, hslda.org, can help families with this and provide templates for how to do so. Additionally, their special needs consultants can help make sense of the diagnostic assessment reports and help you the parent-teacher come up with a customized educational plan. Lining up classes, such as those offered through True North Academy, can be a great way to customize your child’s specialized home education.
- Kathy Koch, Celebrate Kids, https://celebratekids.com/meet-dr-kathy/
- Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia, http://dyslexia.yale.edu/success-stories/
- 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, by Zan Tyler, https://www.amazon.com/Tools-Cultivating-Your-Childs-Potential/dp/1935495437
- “Parent Pep Talk:Dealing with Your Child’s Diagnosis”, https://www.understood.org/en/family/taking-care-of-yourself/dealing-with-emotions/parent-pep-talk-coping-with-your-childs-diagnosis
Faith’s own learning struggles and diagnosis of dyscalculia compelled her compassion for other bright but struggling students. A fifteen year teaching career before she became a homeschool mom included both public and private schools, tutoring, and working as a reading specialist. Her specific area of expertise is the identification and remediation of reading difficulties.
As an extroverted-introvert who is a lifelong learner and an avid reader, her 2008 transition to homeschooling her own two children was a natural one. Faith currently applies her passionate advocacy for special needs students as she speaks at homeschooling conferences across the nation and internationally. She also serves as a Special Needs Consultant for Home School Legal Defense Association in addition to having her own in-home, private practice as an educational diagnostician.
Faith holds the following credentials
- B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from West Virginia University
- M.Ed. in Reading from Shenandoah University
- certification as a trained dyslexia intervention specialist through the National Institute of Learning Differences (NILD)
- certification in Equipping Minds Cognitive Curriculum
Faith’s articles have been published in several national homeschooling magazines, and she has been the guest of several homeschooling podcasts.