Debbie on Time Well Spent

Teacher intensive. This is a term I hear applied towards RightStart Math. A term that can be used in a positive sense and a negative sense. When asked to list pros and cons, this term, teacher intensive, tends to be what you would find in the cons. And yet it’s one of those terms that should actually be a positive. If you sent a child to school, would you consider it a negative if your child is actually being taught … <gasp>… by the teacher?

No, not everyone will think of the term “teacher intensive” as a negative but you are in the minority as even those who don’t mind spending time will also classify RightStart Math as teacher intensive. So what does it mean to classify something as teacher intensive? It means that the teacher, usually mom, has to sit down and teach the child.

I understand that it can be time consuming to teach multiple children of different ages, yet what were you expecting when you made the decision to homeschool? Is it really better to use a math curriculum that you can just “give” your child so they can fill out the worksheets on their own? I am not asking if it’s better for the mother/teacher but if it’s better for the child.

Teaching multiple children is hard! It does take time. It also takes flexibility and creativity. I know. I have six children! For a short period of time, I schooled all six of them, however for the majority of my schooling years I taught five… then four… then three… and now I’ll be down to one as the last child is graduating high school this year.

All my boys had learning delays, so I could not ever just hand them a worksheet and expect them to be able to do it. I always had to be present and actually sit beside them and teach. (I’m amazed I still have hair. Lol!) So when someone talks about a curriculum as being teacher intensive all I can think is… that’s all I’ve ever known. It wasn’t until high school that my boys were reading well enough that they could start doing school work independently.

What I’d like to do is to give you an alternative to think about in regards to calling a curriculum teacher intensive. How about thinking of a curriculum as teacher interactive instead? I know… it’s the same thing since you are still having to spend time teaching… but hear how much more positive it sounds. Interactive has a positive ring to it.

To be interactive means to be aware of what your child is doing and learning. It means to be actively involved in the moment. Being interactive helps you to see quickly if your child is understanding a concept or not. Trust me, there are many who have thought their child was doing well with a worksheet-based curriculum only to find out later they did not understand nor were able to apply the concepts they were learning. Being interactive also means spending special one-on-one time with your child. Time is precious. We have all sorts of things that take up our time; why not let it be our children? What better way to spend your time than teaching and interacting with your child!

Let me leave you with a few ideas when using a curriculum that requires you to interact with your child.

  1. Combine your children in as many subjects as possible. History, Grammar, Writing, Bible, and Science are all subjects you can do with multiple ages of children, especially during the elementary years.
  2. The elementary years are crucial to be interactive. These are the years when foundations are set. You don’t want to find out after putting up the walls that the foundation is unstable. So know that these younger years will require more of you.
  3. Consider schooling math and reading year round. This way you can get the lessons in without stressing as much about getting it done. The summer time doesn’t have to be as rigorous. Three days a week through the summer can make a huge difference during the school year.
  4. Set a timer. I know that Dr. Cotter is not a fan of setting a timer as she hates for someone to stop a lesson when the child is really enjoying it. However, as a homeschool mother of five, I don’t always have the luxury of spending five hours a day teaching math. But if I set the timer for thirty minutes I can get all five done in 2.5 hours. And if I school year round and alternate days of math, then I am looking at 1 to 1.5 hours of math a day which is much more manageable.
  5. Know this is ONLY for a season. Soon they will be old enough to start working independently in math. In RightStart, Level G is where the student is to start working independently.
  6. Make teaching math and reading a priority. Do math and reading first thing and then the other subjects if you’re able. Trust me, giving your child a firm foundation in math and reading will pay dividends in all other subjects as your child grows.
  7. Be selective on outside the home activities. This isn’t going to be a popular idea but when your children are in the season of you needing to be interactive in their lessons, it’s much easier to have time to do it if you weren’t running all over creation trying to get them to different activities. Limit their outside activities during this season. You’ll be much saner for it.

With my last child graduating this year, I look back over my time schooling and one thing I don’t regret is the time I spent interacting with my children. Was it easy? No! No! No! Was it worth it? Yes! Yes! YES!  It was time well spent!



  1. I LOVE the term interactive! I’ve found myself calling Right Start “teaching intensive,” but it really isn’t, in the sense that I don’t find the teaching of it “intensive.” I do sit with my child and go through the lessons, but it’s so easy to use and very open-and-go, so I have never felt it was “intense.” Thanks for the new term!

  2. The nice thing about Right Start is it is open-and-go. The teacher’s effort really is spent on the interactive time, not in the prep. Grab your abacus and other manipulatives, grab the worksheet, do it.

  3. Well said! I never understand when people complain about teaching their young child math, to me it is a core subject and is a non-negotiable.

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