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Advice please! Math curriculum and Right Start Math questions....


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I'd love some advice from seasoned math curriculum users!  

I have three kids, 9, 6, and 6, (about to turn ages though..) who will be 4th/5th grade and 2nd grade next year.  We've been using Right Start and Life of Fred from the beginning with all three.  They all adore Life of Fred as a supplement, as do I, and so that is not a problem at all.  The question is Right Start.  My oldest is not a math lover, though she's competent and does ok.  But it's so SLOW.  We struggle to get through all the lessons and I feel we are falling behind.  It just doesn't seem to be a curriculum that is easy to move through more rapidly, and I fear we will be bogged down in doing all the things and be more behind.  She's very bright but math is not her strong point.  She's also had some health issues that have set her back, affecting her concentration and work habits. I feel we've not made as much progress as we should have and that we're behind where we need to be.  She has trouble getting things done independently too and she's still working on finishing level D.  I love the approach, but wonder if we should continue with this program down the road.   Advice?  I don't want to have her get too far behind grade level and still feel like we're forever plugging away.  It would make us feel better to have something achievable on a schedule front, where the amount of time spent seemed manageable.  I know it may be considered a "mastery based curriculum" but I still feel like there is pressure to get through. I don't want her to be in 6th grade and still working on 4th grade math.   We also have a part time tutor to help us implement some of the math, and I don't think she is too comfortable  "skipping things" and I don't know exactly how to advise her.  When we started with Right Start, the lessons in the old edition were three a week, and that was easier to accomplish, but the five a week plan isn't working schedule wise, especially since one lesson often seems to take her two days, sometimes three.  Do we jump ship after this level and try something else?  If we do, what?  I have heard good things about Horizons Math, but don't know how it works and haven't seen it.  Does anyone have experience with this?

My twins are using different things and we separate for math due to different levels of instruction.  For my son (6) who is naturally proficient in math, Right Start is way too slow and has too much repetition.  He just gets math without effort.  He does Life of Fred also, but also works in Beast Academy.  He's worked through most of BA level 3 and is about to move into BA 4 and it has seemed the right level for him.  But, as we jumped into BA at a higher level to give him something that would challenge him, we've been trying to spot check through R.S.  quickly to make sure there were no holes, and do things we needed to work on.  But I feel it's not easy to skip through RS quickly.  I looked at Singapore, but didn't care for it.  Any other suggestions?  Should we abandon R.S with him and just keep going with BA and LOF alone?  Or add something else as a supplement?  Even though he can do the multiplication, division and pre-algebra things in BA 3 without much difficulty, I want to make sure he is super solid on the basics.  He is unusually gifted in math, - he just gets numbers and relationships. He can do it all in his head, but I want to make sure he has more work on writing it down in the traditional way.  Or do I need to worry so much about that?  Is there a curriculum that goes at a really quick pace without much busy work to just spot check? 

For my twin daughter (6), R.S. works perfectly for.  Suits her to a T.  So I want to keep going with it -  She adores the games, begs to play it, and it's really working for her.  So no questions here.  

Do I invest in more math curriculum?  Any suggestions that might be a good fit for my oldest daughter?  At what point is a good point to move to something else?  

I have heard that in the older levels, Life of Fred can be used as the only curriculum, instead of a supplement.  Does anyone do that? Or is it better as a supplement? Does it incorporate enough drills and repetition?  I feel we'd have much more joy in our house with my oldest if Life of Fred was every day:)  But we don't want to compromise a solid foundation.  Any thoughts?  

So much for my plans of using the same curriculum with everyone, but that is the blessing of homeschooling anyway.  Even if buying extra curriculum is not economically efficient,  I don't mind spending to find the right fit for each child.  I'd like to decide before I have to buy any more R.S. levels!

Thank you for reading this long winded inquiry -  I value your time and opinions and appreciate this community of fellow homeschooling parents!

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My kids are younger than yours but I've looked at lots of math curriculum. I am using RSe2 with my upcoming 1st and 3rd graders. One thing I'd say is to ask the people at rightstart about your dd they have some great ideas.

If rightstart is allowing your daughter to grasp concepts and build a good base, I'd be very hesitant to switch before prealgebra. Her are some ideas. Also I think you could jump into Prealgebra after level f. So if you did level d and 1/2 e this year than e and 1/2 f next year finishing F by the end of her 7/8 year then do say BJU or another prealgebra and algebra sequence your not really behind. She sounds like she would really be in 4th  agewise this year anyway so that would have her doing Algebra 1 in 9th which is a developmentally great time for lots of kids. Do you really want to call her 5th grade now and have her graduate at 17? Just some thoughts.

If you really think changing curriculums would be good, check out math mammoth. Its similar to rightstart bit more independent and very workbookish and you can either use the full curriculum or the topical ones. 

You may want to look at the math mammoth topical books or new review books for your son for practice. I also love Kate Snow's math facts that stick and Kumon books for adding drill to rightstart.

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I'm unclear who is doing what, so this is just generic advice. Give everyone placement tests and move the oldest into the curriculum that seems to suit her based on the placement test. Continue to teach the 6yo for whom RS is a good fit with RS. It sounds like the other needs a faster pace, so he can go into a combo of Singapore and Abeka, Singapore and Horizons, whatever you want. 

And yes, math is the hardest to fit and the one that most needs to fit. Doing the placement tests will give you a good feel for how each curriculum approaches the material, so you'll have a pretty good sense of what fits them at that point. BJU will be a good lateral slide, a solid choice. Singapore, Horizons, CLE, there are lots of good options. Cathy Duffy has lists of everything on her site.

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Thank you, for the advice, countryman and PeterPan.  I hadn't thought about asking the RS people, or placement tests either.  Those may be helpful.  As to my oldest, we'll see where things end up in the coming year as to whether we'll consider her 4th grade, 5th grade or be happily in between for a bit.  I'm open to having her graduate at 17 or 18, either one is fine, we'll play it by ear and see how things pan out in the next few years.  But it is nice to have that option, and I'm certainly not going to push her towards a more accelerated math side.  She has a literary mind and love, so we'd rather focus more efforts on that side of education.  

As to my son, we've used Kumon books for drill, but they have way too much drill for him, and not enough topics in one book...  I know I can skip, but I'd just love to find some sort of review drill resource that has just a few pages on each topic.  There may not be something like that out there, I guess I could piece together something on my own from the right start worksheets.  

I"ll check out more Cathy Duffy reviews about Horizons - I'd love some personal info but if anyone has personal feedback, I'd love to hear it.  

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I wanted to love Right Start but it was also too slow, too many moving parts, and just too much for me. Math Mammoth suited my personality (as the teacher) much better. It is conceptually rich, but more streamlined. I think it could work well for both your oldest student and your younger accelerated student. I’d begin with MM placement tests. 

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13 minutes ago, fourisenough said:

I wanted to love Right Start but it was also too slow, too many moving parts, and just too much for me.


Similar.  Too many moving parts, too uneven in E, and it got annoying.  Plus, we ran out quickly.  I used it as long as my kid wanted, but we had to reassess after a while.  I won't use LOF alone, either.  It doesn't teach well.  It teaches how, but not always the why.  Last year when we finished RS too early in the year (ds was doing the levels at a quick pace,) I switched him out completely.  I had him try Gattegno book 1 over last summer and it was simple yet engaging.  Last year we started book 2.  There's no book 3, but we'll pair up book 4 with Life Of Fred.  It all uses one set of blocks and a lot is done orally.  The lessons are quick enough to complete and still have time, if you wanted, for the Right Start games or something else.
OTOH, my oldest thrived on MUS.  It was what he needed: clean pages, one set of manipulatives, bite sized lessons.  I would go back to it in a heartbeat because it taught very well and gave him clear goals to work toward.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am somewhat loathe to recommend it but your oldest might really like Math Lessons for a Living Education. From what I hear they are a bit "below" level but it sounds like you are okay with your daughter going at her own pace. And you will find people that absolutely love it. 
My son is a bit younger but we found RS moved too fast for him and ended up supplementing with Horizon to add in more review... he wasn't a fan of games as review. I am switching to BJU this year because I feel like it is still conceptual enough to help him really "understand" math but has more review, there's a story built into it and it's easier to add in parts of other sections if he gets bored with the same unit in one go (like we can do one day of time mixed into a week of multiplication). 
I will say that Horizon is easy to skip stuff that is already known... just do a couple problems to see if they know it and then cross out the rest if they've got it. LOTS of review built in. 

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