About the Author


Joan-CroppedThe founder of Activities for Learning, Inc., holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an AMI Montessori diploma for ages 3-6, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from College of St. Thomas, Minnesota, (now University of St. Thomas) and an earned Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota.

Joan worked as an engineer at Univac (now Unisys), resigning when her children were born. She taught her three children at home before and after school and during summer vacations. To help them learn their arithmetic, she devised card games that were published in her first book, Math Card Games: 300 Games for Learning and Enjoying Math.

After starting a Montessori preschool, Joan taught in several Montessori schools and incorporated Suzuki violin and piano. She also taught mathematics in grades 6-8 and worked with children with special needs.

Program Design

Dr. Cotter designed the double-sided AL Abacus and wrote RightStart Mathematics, a comprehensive elementary and middle-school mathematics program that incorporates visualization, the AL Abacus, math card games, and drawing board tools. The RightStart curriculum is an outgrowth of her doctoral research. She is currently writing RightStart™ Mathematics Second Edition. Dr. Cotter conducts workshops and speaks at conferences across the US and worldwide.

Joan and her husband, Al, have three adult children, four adult grandchildren, one newborn granddaughter, and one great-grandson. Dr. Joan A. Cotter can be reached by email at JoanCotter@RightStartMath.com.


What our Customers Are Saying

Thank you so much for your RightStart Math Curriculum. I have been using it for 3 years with my son and my daughter is beginning her second year. I love the strategies you use for teaching math and the lessons are fun to teach.
Jennifer Traugott