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.
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.