As a former Math teacher now homeschooling my own children, I’ve eagerly and thoroughly scoured Math curriculum offerings at homeschool conventions and through online homeschool group recommendations.
This post contains affiliate links.
I headed into my search armed with the following knowledge:
What I did not want:
- a traditional textbook
- and tests
I’ve taught from half a dozen variations on that theme, and the only one that I felt did any justice to the depth and wonder of Math was a very non-traditional, discovery-based curriculum (that unfortunately didn’t garner enough popularity to survive through more than one 4-year textbook cycle).
What I did want:
I wanted something that was built around hands-on manipulatives and provided kids many opportunities to discover how mathematical principles work, rather than just telling them answers to questions they had never asked for themselves.
I wanted a curriculum that would present concepts deeply so that kids would be able to easily extend their understanding to new situations, rather than just memorize algorithms.
And I hoped to find all this in a curriculum that respected the integrity of students and their parents by providing guided material to help progress through lessons, but not overemphasize busy work or tests.
The perfect Package
What we do need is a structure to help us present these topics in a logical order, guided lessons written by someone with a high-level view of Math and a deep knowledge of how the individual pieces fit into the whole picture, a supply kit of recommended manipulatives, and … as an added bonus … a complete set of games to help reinforce every concept.
It was a tall order, but I found it!
I found absolutely everything I was looking for (and nothing from my “not looking for” list) in RightStart Mathematics.
Benefits of RightStart Math:
- guided-discovery based lessons,
- hands-on manipulatives,
- focus on deep learning rather than rote memorization,
- unique and skill-focused games to support almost every lesson,
- use of songs and rhymes to help when memorization is called for (with days of the week or months of the year, for example),
- simple, easy-to-follow, short lessons that didn’t leave you scrambling to fill in explanations but could also easily springboard into deeper extension topics,
- very well-rounded approach that integrates many different topics into each level,
- and the delight with which my kids approach our Math lessons!
The best kind of Math education …
Here are a few of the most inspiring points the author makes:
- Only five percent of mathematics should be learned by rote; 95 percent should be understood.
- Understanding a new model is easier if you have made one yourself.
- The role of a teacher is to encourage thinking by answering questions, not giving answers. Once you give an answer, thinking usually stops.
- Putting thoughts into words helps the learning process.
- Informal mathematics should precede pencil and paper work.
I won’t risk a spoiler-alert by sharing the whole intro here, but I absolutely love her perspective on Math and the learning process as well as her expertise and passion that she’s poured into creating this curriculum.
The complete series currently goes up through Geometry … but I think they’re still developing more.
As we’ve worked our way through Level A, I have continued to love the presentation of the material and all the extension activities and games provided.
related article: 10 ways to make Math fun for kids
The Litmus Test of a good Math program
More importantly, so has my son! 🙂
His enthusiasm for Math and confidence in his own ability to make sense of it all is the best testimony to the effectiveness of this curriculum.
(Yes, it probably helps to have a Math teacher for a mom. But for real … these lessons are laid out so clearly that anyone could follow them and instill a love for learning and deep understanding in their kids as they work together through the lessons, no matter what personal weight they may carry from their own experience with Math in school.)
The only potential downside to this that I can see is that it does involve one-on-one time between the parent and child. I know that in big families, that time can be really hard to come by.
I can almost guarantee, however, that every hour invested up front in positive, personal Mathematical conversations and hands-on activities will save you 2 hours (5 hours? more??) of tears and frustration and wasted time trying to “unlearn” things that were not properly understood the first time around.
This program is also more expensive than a simple workbook-based curriculum. But the value you’ll get from all the elements provided in every lesson is, well, invaluable … and will save you money you won’t have to spend on a Math tutor later :).
You can read more about our own experience working through Level A here.
FREE MATH GAME
I’ve created several hands-on Math games and printable activities for my own kids as well these past few years. If you’d like to receive a free copy of this “Make 10 Math Game” and join my weekly newsletter to receive more Math printables and real-world learning tips, you can do so here:
Enjoy learning Math with your children!
Sandra, formerly a high-school math teacher (M.A.), now homeschools her two boys and shares her interactive, authentic learning activities, homeschooling stories, and passion for learning and teaching at R.E.A.L.-World Learners. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.