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MirandaTeaLover

Streamlined, mastery-based math to replace Right Start

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We just received Right Start C, and surprisingly, after two pretty good years, we are hating it.  I would never have said that Right Start was my dream program (I often didn't think we needed to play a card game after a lengthy lesson), but it seemed thorough and thoughtfully made.  I liked that it lacked the cutesy, "busy" work that I thought I was seeing in some of the more workbook-based curricula I browsed before settling on Right Start A (and then B).

Though a spiral approach was also present in B, it is only with C that I am seeing how very deeply "spiral-y" Right Start is.  We were ready to learn something new, and were disappointed to see a return to the beginning of A in the first lessons of C.  We took just what we needed from those first few lessons, trying to move on to where we had left off in B.  Even with the new, relevant-seeming stuff, though, I think I am wanting a more streamlined approach.  Fewer manipulatives would be nice, and I would like shorter lessons, though I know I can just shorten the lessons on my own.  I might modify C for my own purposes, in fact, but I can't imagine buying D.

Can anyone put a name to the streamlined, mastery-based, no/low-manipulative curriculum I have described?

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Math Mammoth
Math U See
Ray's

We switched from Right Start to Gattegno.  It uses one set of manipulatives (c-rods), is mastery, and the lessons are as short or as long as you'd like.  Much of the work is oral/blocks, with sections that I copy into a graph paper notebook for my kid to do written work.  It's not a popular program, though:
- the books are free online but are available printed only through one company.
- it's older and the language reflects that.  I found it odd until I saw the videos on youtube and it made sense.
- material is presented "out of order", meaning that book one is ALL operations with numbers 1-20 (except decimals) and book 2 does multiplication of higher numbers before introducing vertical notation and the clock.

I would suggest taking the math selector quiz and seeing if anything matches up to your ideals.  It would probably help narrow your search considerably.

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We switched to Singapore from Right Start. SIngapore is mastery, and I find the format easy to teach. The lessons are streamlined. You basically walk the child through the pictures in the textbook, discussing concepts and doing the sample problems together. There is a home instructor's guide if you need added support in teaching the concepts. If you already own the Right Start manipulatives, I don't think you'll need to purchase any additional manipulatives for Singapore. 

Some people have said that Singapore does not have enough practice. For my children, in addition to using the workbook, we used either Challenging Word Problems or Intensive Practice to help review and solidify concepts. 

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BJU was an easy next step after RightStart for us. It will be very similar as far as focusing on understanding and has basic lessons that you expand with extras on the cds for kids who need that. Might be about right for your situation. 

Beyond that, yeah go through Cathy Duffy and try everything because math is very individual, lol. 

Fwiw, I would stick with RightStart at least through the lessons where they get through 4 digit subtraction. Their method of starting from the left for the trades works well and isn't something I've seen elsewhere.

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I love Dr. Cotter's methodology and the AL abacus is the single most used manipulative in our house but RS itself always seemed way more complicated than math needs to be.  Plus I'm not a "fun" mom and don't do games.  If you like the way RS explains things you may just look into getting the Activities for the AL Abacus and work through those topics that you have not yet covered using the exercises provided in the C book for practice.  Instead of playing games daily you can just devote one day a week to "math-game" day.

I never could find a math program for the K-4 level that was streamlined with short lessons and provided a solid conceptual understanding so we just do our own thing.  I use the Activities for the AL Abacus to start us off, then add in Ella Frances Lynch's arithmetic lessons and continue to supplement with the abacus or c-rods (DD10 preferred abacus, DD7 leans towards c-rods) to work on the four operations simultaneously (EFL's lessons are really strong in multiplication/division/fractions but my children need lots of practice with addition/subtraction as well).  When I need alternative ways of explaining something I glance at Kitchen Table Math: a great reference for the homeschool math teacher whatever curriculum is being used.  DD10 had no problem switching to a textbook for 4th grade from this approach and we only switched to a textbook (Saxon 5/4) because of a crisis that required her to work completely independently for several months.  Right now DD7 spends maybe 15-20 minutes a day on math and it won't go over 30 minutes until she's much older.  When introducing a new topic I might spend the whole time working 1:1 with her but day-to-day I only spend the first 5 minutes or so getting her started and simply remain present for the rest of the time to supervise.  I personally love the freedom that comes with being able to target the work directly to the child's interest/ability/pace and not being tied to someone else's curriculum.

I suggest the above two options in case you want to avoid spending money right now on a whole new curriculum since RS is expensive and you've already invested into it and it seems the methodology itself is a good fit even if the curriculum as written is not.

In case you do want to go ahead and switch to a different curriculum there are lots of options for mastery based math and these are the ones I have some experience with:

I absolutely adore the incremental nature, clear explanations and pictorial based explanations of Math Mammoth.  It did not work here with DD10 because she could not tolerate the cluttered pages and the lessons could sometimes get very long but I still use the worksheets from the Green series with her because of Maria Miller's talent for creating such efficient problems for practicing concepts.  This will be my first choice if I ever need to switch to a curriculum with the younger kids.

Rod & Staff is a solid, mastery-based arithmetic program but it was designed for schools and the lessons can be quite long.  It works really well for many people both on here and the families I've known IRL.

Singapore has the strong conceptual basis that RS provides but there are a lot of books to juggle and the HIG does use manipulatives at the lower levels.  I taught with SM in a classroom and had no wish to use it at home with my own children, though I do supplement with CWP occasionally.  But, if you want something very conceptual like RS with lots of hand holding for you as the teacher and a proven track record, SM can't be beat.

Strayer-Upton is a series of vintage arithmetic textbooks.  Book I covers grades 3-4 and is very cheap.  It excels at getting speedy with mental arithmetic though it does not use any of the "mental math" strategies that modern programs like SM are known for and for some that is a weakness.  It's straight-forward old fashioned arithmetic.  The word problems are nice though not as challenging as SM and tend to follow a pattern (detrimental to the student who catches patterns quickly and starts to just plug in a formula) and although it does provide a conceptual basis when it introduces a topic, the way it practices concepts really promotes a much more algorithmic mind-set for the student since it jumps from concept to algorithm very quickly.

Good luck finding something that works well for your family!

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We skipped the first four weeks of every RightStart book - it was all review for kids who had taken the summer off of math and forgotten everything. Then, if the kid was getting everything, we skipped the weekly reviews. Also, we stopped playing card games around C because we just didn't need the extra review. Around then, my kid started doing a workbook of Singapore Challenging Word problems one year behind independently.

I tried Singapore with two kids and just COULD NOT deal with the teacher's manual. It was laid out, IMO, so poorly and disjointedly. I was constantly flipping to different parts for answers for the various types of problems. 

We did some Math Mammoth but I felt like there were too many problems per lesson. In retrospect, we should have just cut some out.

Emily

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Math Mammoth

We don't do all the problems, and if they are easily getting a concept we do some of it orally. But it's mastery, straightforward, easy to teach, and I love how incrementally she teaches the concepts so that long division and multi digit multiplication become easy and intuitive. I don't love the geometry chapters after about grade 3, but it's worth it for the rest of the program.

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We went to Singapore from RightStart B.  It worked great, though you will probably find that all arithmetic programs start to seem repetitive after a while.  If you read the book Elementary Mathematics for Teachers before starting, you won't need to rely on the HIG.

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13 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Fwiw, I would stick with RightStart at least through the lessons where they get through 4 digit subtraction. Their method of starting from the left for the trades works well and isn't something I've seen elsewhere.

I hadn't either before my youngest, but MEP teaches similar and Gattegno teaches 'strikes', starting from the left and taking away the same amount from top and bottom before starting. 
 435
-362
would have 3 hundreds taken away from each, 3 tens taken away, and 2 units, so the problem becomes
 103
- 30

It was actually easier to see with Gattegno and simpler to understand.  DS about blew up at the 4 different subtraction methods Right Start taught.

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6 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

I hadn't either before my youngest, but MEP teaches similar and Gattegno teaches 'strikes', starting from the left and taking away the same amount from top and bottom before starting. 

Singapore teaches starting from the left for both addition and subtraction as a mental technique.  So in the example above, 435 - 362, the student would do 435 - 300 --> 135 - 60 --> 75 - 2 = 73

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5 minutes ago, EKS said:

Singapore teaches starting from the left for both addition and subtraction as a mental technique.  So in the example above, 435 - 362, the student would do 435 - 300 --> 135 - 60 --> 75 - 2 = 73

MEP was heavy on that mental math, too.  Gattegno wants students to visualize more.  Ds tends to use both, but when faced with a written problem he'll do it the Gattegno way.

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Singapore or Math Mammoth.  We also started with RS, and just couldn't anymore with the games based practice.  

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We have used Right Start twice now and I always go back to Rod and Staff... I don't do everything in the lesson.  My son is about to enter fourth grade and most of the teaching instruction is in the student book.  We do skip counting recitations as a family.  I hand my kids manipulatives and an abacus to figure out concepts.  

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I appreciate all the answers, everyone!  I will be referring back to this thread frequently as I download samples for my daughter to try.  The quiz HomeAgain mentioned indicates that I would do best with either Singapore or Beast Academy.  Math Mammoth was just a little lower, but it looks like it is worth downloading samples to try.

I'm already trying to sell Right Start C, but if no one will buy it, we will see what we can get out of it.  My heart just isn't in RS anymore, and my daughter is happy with anything as long as I make it short.  She enjoyed doing the Beast Academy sample today.

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Rod and Staff is mastery with no frills. I prefer no frills because too many colorful pictures just become a big distraction for ds. If I hand him manipulatives, I lose his attention almost entirely and he thinks it's time to play. I considered switching to R&S because of the reusability compared to our current curriculum (we use CLE which is a gentle spiral with plenty of review you can choose to do or skip) but ds cried when he saw the samples because of the amount of computation problems and repetitiveness of each individual concept. 

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Don't be a slave to the curriculum. It's just a tool. We skip about the first 20 lessons of each book then skip any lesson that feels too "review-y" to me. And we sometimes skip the games if they seem to "busy-work" for me too. RS is such a solid program.

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