I have always struggled with teaching my children math. Math comes easy to me which makes teaching it hard. So many times I have frustratingly said, “I don’t know why you don’t understand! It’s so easy!” I forget that not everyone thinks or learns like I do.

My oldest daughter (12 yrs old) doesn’t do well with repetition and worksheets. She has an amazing memory and she learns best by reading–once she’s learned something, she stores is safely away in her brain and doesn’t need a lot of repetition to remember it. My middle daughter (8 yrs old) is easily frustrated with anything that involves extensive writing. She learns best by with hands on activities and by listening. I’m often impressed by her ability to retain what I have read to her even when it appears she isn’t listening. My youngest daughter (4 yrs old) loves to learn. She is constantly asking for more–more worksheets, more pages to color, more activities to do.

All these different learning styles is enough to make my head spin! I was so happy when we happened upon a great math session at our state’s annual homeschool conference this year. It was hosted and led by the author of the Videotext Interactive curriculum. I learned more about my children and their learning styles in that one hour than I have learned in six years of homeschooling!

Tom Clark from Videotext Interactive highly recommended RightStart™ Mathematics. I had visited their booth during previous conferences and I was always intrigued by the way they taught math. We decided to look at their curriculum again and see it was what we needed for our youngest daughters.

After handling the manipulatives and hearing more about why the teach math the way they do, I was sold. It just made so much sense and I knew that the hands on stuff was exactly what my 3rd grader needed.

I went over the review tests found on the RightStart™ Math website and chose what levels we needed. In August, a huge box arrived at my home full of all kinds of math goodness. I’ll be honest, I opened the box and then closed it and put it aside for a couple of weeks. At first, it was a little intimidating. There was so much stuff to look at! Tally sticks, tiles, workbooks, games, an abacus, geometry panels, a calculator…so much stuff!

Then I opened the teacher book and started reading the lessons and it no longer seemed so intimidating. The lessons are well written and guide you step by step in what to say. The lessons are short and to the point. Feeling confident, I started planning out our lessons for the first few weeks of school.

We are only a couple weeks into our journey with RightStart™ Math right now. After the first two days, my 3rd grader said, “I love our math this year!” My kindergartener loves it as well and often asks to do more than one lesson a day. They love the manipulatives and the AL Abacus is helping them to really *see *math instead of just learning facts.

I look forward to posting more through the year about our adventures with RightStart™ Math. Come back to see if the enthusiasm and excitement continues!

Laura from www.simplyhealthymama.com

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We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The writing is complete and the final proof is well underway. We’ll be updating the website in the next few weeks with a more detailed timeline for all of you who are patiently waiting. We are so excited for you to see the new lessons!

We’ve had a few of you call us regarding Lesson 49 in Level D. This will help to clarify check numbers for those of you working with them for the first time.

Just as you would check your answers in a subtraction problem by adding the answer (difference) to the the number subtracted (subtrahend), you can add the check numbers in the same order (difference plus subtrahend equals minuend).

For example:

** 83** *(minuend)* check number: (2)

** ****-33** *(subtrahend)* check number: (6)

** 50** *(difference)* check number: (5)

5+6=11 which is check number 2

If you want more information on check numbers, watch this webinar. Scroll to the bottom of the page and it’s right there for you to reference.

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Aspen is truly loving the lessons regarding the coins. She has made a game out of dumping out my purse so we can go through the coins to add. She struggles a bit with the dimes and the nickels. I have a feeling that the size confuses her a bit between the two coins, as she’s noted that the bigger one should be more. We’ll just have to keep playing with the money, as she has to add it together in order to put it into her piggy bank.

Aspen’s favorite game thus far has been the addition memory game. She absolutely loves it when she can say what she needs before asking for help or using the abacus. On occasion she still uses it, as she tends to get stuck on the 7′s and 8′s when coming up with the other addend to make 10. Now any normal memory game is a little boring to her without the added challenge of addition.

Partitioning for Aspen has been a bit challenging when using the Part-Whole Circle sets. She does well with the abacus, but when the circles continue to be brought into play, she seems to have a bit of a road-block when she looks at them. Eventually she gets it, but they do frustrate her. When having the two parts, she comes up with the whole easily, however, determining the part, when the whole and one part are given stumps her, and she takes a bit of time to come up with the answer. She tries to do it in her head, but quite often grabs her abacus to find the answer.

Aspen has been doing fairly well with telling time. She has been working on it, and loves to try to figure it out. She seems to really struggle with it, when she has to note if it’s bed time. Imagine that! If you tell her to note when it is time to go to the pool or somewhere fun, then she does seem to be at the top of her game. She is pretty confident in the whole and half hours, but the other variations still cause her a bit of confusion.

Aspen was working with her dad doing the teens with her school work, and was getting really frustrated. I grabbed her abacus and we did the RightStart way of saying the teens, such as 1 Ten 3, then she was easily able to come up with the correct number, and quickly converted it to the conventional number way: 13. Her dad just looked at her, and was surprised by how she was able to come up with the correct answer going that route, as opposed to just knowing the convention number off the top of her head. He’s really noticing how well she is doing and is attributing it to her using RightStart in helping her advance in her math skills.

Aspen has been becoming a great cook’s helper, as she loves to help with the measuring and mixing. She gets to help find the correct measuring unit, either in the measuring cups or spoons to help create our kitchen masterpieces. (At least she things they are.) She is getting to be consistently correct, and going through the lesson on fractions was quite easy for her. She did extremely well when working on the second edition fraction lessons (as I had an advance copy). She didn’t call them the correct name, for example called the thirds “threes” instead, but after corrected, she flew through the lesson and found it to be so much fun. She is continuously playing with her Fraction Puzzle and Fraction Magnet we have located on our refrigerator.

]]>**NOT AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE:**

**AL Abacus:** This abacus has 100 beads, is grouped in 5s and 10s using color. It is different from the Chinese abacus, the Japanese abacus, and “play” abacuses (where each string of beads is a different color). Both sides of the abacus are used in different ways. The AL Abacus is available in various colors, sizes, and materials.

** Six Special Decks of Cards:** Basic cards (0 to 10), multiplication cards, fraction cards, money cards, clock cards, and Corners™ cards make up the six decks.

**Fraction Charts:** One plastic fraction chart stays intact and a second chart is pre-cut to allow the child to manipulate the individual pieces. Very importantly, this chart includes the 1/7ths and 1/9ths. It is also one color so that the student doesn’t associate a specific fraction with a specific color and encourages the “mixing and matching” of fractions without the constraints of color.

**Abacus Tiles:** These tiles are a representation of the AL Abacus allowing for a child to see what more than one hundred beads would look like.

**Geometry Panels:** We make these ourselves!

**Place Value Cards:** Adaptation from Montessori’s decimal cards.

**Goniometer (Angle Measurer):** Although this is not an item we make, it is no longer produced and almost impossible to find elsewhere.

**Drawing Set:** These pieces can all be found individually elsewhere and we assemble this in our warehouse. Triangles don’t having inking edges and the T-square is transparent for ease of use.

**Base-Ten Cards:** These drawings represent ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands with the groupings of five to allow for quick recognition of quantities. Images align with the AL Abacus bead grouping. Other base ten cards, stamps, and/or blocks ignore the grouping in fives.

**Yellow is the Sun CD:** We make these ourselves, although you can download the song online and the music is in the back of the teacher’s manual.

**SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS NEEDED AND MAY BE A CHALLENGE TO FIND ELSEWHERE:**

**Math Balance:** Pegs for the balance are on both sides of the balance arm which allows for twice as many weights to be hung on a number making multiplication a breeze. Weights are also 10 grams which is used in RightStart™ Mathematics Second Edition (RS2).

**Centimeter Cubes:** Our centimeter cubes weigh one gram. This is an important aspect for RS2!

**Geometry Solids:** We have a set of 12 wooden shapes. In RS2, these specific shapes are important because they are measured and weighed, as well as identified. Different shapes and sizes will alter the lesson significantly.

**4-in-1 Ruler:** This ruler measures in centimeters, millimeters, and inches in sixteenths. What makes this ruler special is inches divided into tenths! When a calculation calls for 4.3 inches, the student can precisely measure and draw 4.3 inches, rather than approximating.

**Colored 1” Square Tiles:** We had a hard time finding tiles that were consistently one inch square. Sadly, there was a LOT of variance. We have these tiles made in the USA now and have the precision needed. Quantities are 50 in four different colors.

** Geoboards:** These come two to a set. Pegs need to be 7 x 7. Many geoboards are 5 x 5 which will not allow for enough space for the children to do their lesson work.

**Casio Calculator SL-450:** This child-friendly calculator has a quirk that allows for skip counting, so the SL-450 is needed.

**Mini-Clock:** This clock is geared, which means the hour hand will appropriately follow the minute hand. Hour hand is color coordinated to the hour numbers and the minute hand is color coordinated to the minute numbers.

** Tangrams:** Tangrams can be found in all sizes and colors. Many other tangrams have rounded corners making measuring a challenge. RightStart™ provides two sets with two different colors and have sharp and precise edges. Lessons in RS2 reference the two colors.

**EASIER TO FIND ELSEWHERE:**

**Tally Sticks:** These are craft sticks. If you have some around the house, that will work! You will need 55 sticks.

**Plastic Coins:** As long as you have 30 pennies, 20 nickels, 20 dimes, 20 quarters, and 4 half-dollars, you’re ready to go.

**Folding Meter Stick:** Any meter stick will work. Ours folds simply for convenience.

**Geometry Reflector:** This handy reflector creates for reflections. It is made of transparent material, so it can also been seen through for additional comparisons. A rectangular hand-held mirror will also the trick.

We’re all for saving money. I’m right in there with you all! If I can shave off a penny here and a dollar there, I’m a happy girl. So, let’s say you can find some of these manipulatives at a second hand store, discount store, or borrow from your friend. That’s fantastic.

But then you still need the rest of the items.

The RightStart™ Mathematics kits have a significant discount savings. So, unless you have an amazing treasure of manipulatives at your fingertips, it’s usually cheaper to buy the kits because of the healthy discounts incorporated into the kit pricing. Discounts on the Starter Kits range from $30.00 (SK-G) to $83.50 (RS2 Math Set) to $112.00 (RS1 Complete Kit).

**In my book, that’s a nice savings!!**

For those of you that want to know the short answer and not the details: the lesson has it right. The net does, in fact, become the polyhedra shown above.

For those of you that want to know the long answer and hear the story, settle in, and let me tell you the fun we had!

First of all, what IS a snub cube? A snub cube is one of the 13 Archimedean solids. It is formed by adding extra triangles around the squares of a cube. Specifically, 32 triangles are added around each side and vertex (point where the lines meet) of the squares.

I had two of our summer helpers work on this problem. Katie is a very bright college student and Logan will be a high school senior and likely the valedictorian of his class. They put together the net (pictured above on the left) with ease. However, they struggled to get the floppy pieces to shape up into the snub cube.

I checked on their progress after a while. I only added to the confusion. It just wasn’t working, which is what our customer had experienced.

I told Katie and Logan to approach this from a different perspective. I said, “Let’s build this by looking at the shape and recreating it.” Given that we hadn’t made any success with first method, both were eager to try a new tactic.

We started with the square on the right side of the shape pictured above. I said, “See how each **side** of the square has a triangle attached? And each square **corner** has **two** triangle points coming into it?” OK, I should have said “vertex”, but I didn’t.

I continued, “Then, when you have the square and 12 triangles attached, rotate, attach a square in the right spot, then build the same 12 triangles around that new square….” Katie and Logan jumped in and began building.

There was a small problem in the construction because Katie and Logan didn’t realize that **two** triangle vertices meet at the square vertices. Yes, I had told them that, but they didn’t apply what they had heard. We’ll address that issue in a minute…. After a quick conference and discovery, they went away and, in practically no time whatsoever, came back with a perfect snub cube and smiles all around!

I then challenged them to make the left handed version of the snub cube building the net then assembling, just to see if they could do it. They went off and came back shortly with a newly constructed snub cube.

I asked why they had no problems with the second net when the first was nothing more than a tangled mess. Katie responded, “Once we knew the pattern of two triangle points touching the corner of the square, it was easy!” Logan added, “The first time we did it, we were randomly attaching triangles here and there, which didn’t work! ”

So what have we learned here? First, when someone tells you something, it isn’t as effective as discovering and doing it yourself. I told Katie and Logan that each square corner has two triangle points coming into it. They heard me, but didn’t understand until they **discovered** it themselves, **applied** it, then developed the **understanding** for future situations.

Dr. Joan A. Cotter says, “What one discovers and understands is remembered better than anything learned by rote.” This knowledge made the second snub cube a breeze.

A second thing learned is patterns! Logan said, “It was easy going when we knew the pattern.” Once a pattern becomes evident, the randomness of a situation becomes organized and manageable. This can be applied to other polyhedras, to math in general, and to life as a whole.

P.S. Look at the polyhedras shown above. See any special patterns with the dark triangles? They share vertices with three squares and share edges with only other triangles. The lighter triangles share an edge with a square. Hmmmmm…..

]]>A dear friend let us borrow Level B for the summer so we could try it out before putting all the money into it (since she’s my last child, I was hesitant to invest so much money on yet another program that wouldn’t work). As you must have guessed, it was a huge success and I purchased the curriculum eagerly.

I just had my daughter take the ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) a couple of weeks ago for the first time. She has previously been tested by psychiatrists as part of her autism spectrum evaluations, but she’s never done a ‘bubble’ test where she had to read the questions herself and fill in the answers. For a child on the spectrum, that alone can be a challenge. And I have her take the grade-level tests simply so I can compare her to her age/grade peers. I know she will be behind in math because there are some topics she simply hasn’t covered yet, getting such a late start. Yet, she has always managed to test only slightly below grade level, which is amazing to me.

So this time, I was expecting her scores to be lower, because of the nature of the testing and this being something completely new to her. I was quite wrong! She scored in the 69th percentile for Math Concepts & Estimation. This is on the upper end of the Average range, and her grade equivalent was 6.8 (which means that she performed on this 5th grade test the way you would expect a child in the 8th month of 6th grade to perform on this test). For Problem Solving & Data Interpretation, she scored in the 51st percentile which is right in the middle of the Average range. Her grade equivalent was 5.9 which is exactly what she is! Her math computation scores are quite low but those are irrelevant to me because she has slow processing speed and I do not ever pressure her to finish the drill sheets for a fast time – and math computation is not included in the overall scoring anyway.

Breaking it down into the subsets, she scored 100% right on both Measurement and Probability & Statistics questions and also scored very high on the Algebra subset. To me, this shows that Right Start teaches kids how to think mathematically. And that, in my opinion, is the most important thing!

I have rambled on long enough, I think. I just wanted to share that my child with special needs – who didn’t even start using language to communicate until she was 3.5 years old and who didn’t understand anything to do with math until she was 8, just score on grade level and slightly higher as a 5th grader, when she has only finished the 3rd grade RightStart book! Amazing!!

Thank you, RightStart!

Jennifer C.

This is a good point. *The RightStart™ Mathematics; A Hands-On Geometric Approach* level is a different format than the prior RS levels. Geometric Approach is set up more as exploration of math, which, of course, is more like your child’s future learning.

In high school and college, it is expected that the student will “read between the lines” and extract information that’s not quite specifically stated. My high school senior and three college kids get so very frustrated with this, but that’s the way it works!

Real life is this way too. Think of a baby running a fever. There is no manual that specifically states the answer or provides the steps to the cure. Instead, we need to run with trial and error. Sometimes Tylenol brings the fever down. Sometimes a cool bath. Maybe both are needed. Sometimes it’s a trip to the doctor for antibiotics!

So, how do we help you and your child work through these lessons? Well, two things will help.

First, read (or re-read) the “Hints on Tutoring” found in the front of the lesson book and attached below. A critical excerpt from this page reads “If a paragraph is unclear, the student should reread the paragraph, keeping in mind that sometimes more is explained in the following paragraph. No one learns mathematics by reading the text only once.”

I personally find not rereading the lesson is my greatest error when working through the Geometric Approach. My second most common error is reading too quickly, then jumping to conclusions, which mostly are wrong.

Second, ask us a specific question and we will get an answer to you. Have your student send an email to either info@RightStartMath.com or to JoanCotter@RightStartMath.com, put “Math Student” in the subject line, and we’ll get an answer to you as quickly as humanly possible. You may call us at 888-272-3291 and talk through the question with one of our competent people.

Also, have you and your child watched the “How To Teach” recorded webinar? This will give both of you a firmer foundation in which to work through the program.

Remember, if we did have a teacher’s manual, it would be so tempting to following the instructions item by item, which may stifle true learning. So, although I understand and agree with some of the frustration, think of this as a change in your child’s thinking and learning. It’s now time to explore and think through situations, rather than just follow a rigid algorithm.

Finally, remember to email and/or call us. We are here to help you and your child be the best you can be with your mathematics and with your future learning.

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Currently the items we’re doing are coinciding well with her kindergarten class. We’ll go through her lessons at home and then a few weeks later, they’ll touch on the same concept and she flies right through it with great success.

Aspen carries around her AL Abacus Junior in her backpack and has been using it in her classroom. She says that the kids in her class love to use it as well! She is also using it in her daycare to “teach” the other kids math. Her daycare provider gets a huge kick out of watching her be the teacher and how excited the other kids are to learn from her.

Aspen’s grasp of math has been such a blessing. Time and time again, I’m wishing I had known about the program when her older brother was going through school….

]]>We think this was a great idea so we thought we would share with all our RightStart™ users.

Thanks Jill!

]]>January 25, 2012

Aspen has been showing great understanding of organizing items by size in Level A. She is able to take any type of items and organize them both smallest to largest and in reverse. She continues to beg to go through her lessons each night and rarely gets frustrated with anything we’ve encountered thus far. She continues to want to “count items” using her AL Abacus. She wanders around the house and totals up her findings then has to verify that she is correct. When asked if a certain quantity has been added or subtracted, she has been stellar in her grasping of the concept and rarely gets them incorrect. I’m finding that the lessons are clear and concise and that it’s been quite easy to give the instructions to her to follow.

February 22, 2012

Aspen has been flourishing with her Level A lessons. She’s still so very excited when we work a lesson. We were working on parallels and about a week following the lesson as we were driving down the highway, Aspen kept asking to play the “pallellell game”. She definitely has a slight problem pronouncing it, however I was racking my mind trying to figure out what she was talking about. It finally came to me that she wanted to play a game to see if items were or were not parallel. We play our new game now whenever we have a drive, as well as when we are at home. She continues to verify with me if she’s correct when she judges if any two items are parallel or not. Math has been becoming one game after another with her, and it’s such a joy to see her enjoying herself and her new knowledge she’s acquiring.

March 27, 2012

Things are progressing nicely for Aspen, as she continues to enjoy her math. She loves working with the Abacus, and continues to play with it to work on her skills even when we’re not doing a lesson. She’s been working diligently on identifying numbers of items with her tally sticks, abacus and her fingers, and for the most part, she’s been successful. She still struggles with the 7, 8 and 9, but is getting more successful with those all the time. She still has a tendency to try to count those out when she thinks I’m not looking. She was working on them the other night, when her big brother, who’s 18, was watching. She was given an “8″ and she was looking at the abacus to figure out the appropriate beads to move, when her brother said, “Aspen just count them out on your fingers”, in which Aspen replied: “Bohdey, we don’t do it that way, we have to think about it.” He just looked at her and grinned. Maybe a little of this will eventually rub off on him, as he didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage of this product and he struggled all the way through school with his math classes. A mom can always be hopeful!

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