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If you switched from RightStart Math, I'd like to know why....


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I'm not a mathy person; I learned to hate math, and was intimidated by it. This post is evidence that I still am intimidated by math -- even basics!

 

Since there is no perfect curriculum.... I would be grateful for any input as to areas to be on the "look out" for when it comes to connecting math with my dc.

 

I think three fair criticisms of RS are: 1) Not enough opportunity toward mastery within its spiral approach and 2) Not enough practice of facts and 3) weak in teaching word problems. So, do you spot any other weaknesses?

 

Also, for the above problematic areas, what would you recommend for supplements (assuming I want to stick with RS)?

 

Thank you so much!!

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I burned my dd out with it. It was fun and conceptually it made sense to her. We sped along through the first 50 lessons of B. Suddenly, she didn't want to do it any more. She didn't want to see the abacus or play the games. She did not want to touch math. No dice, no cards, no games, nothing. We tried some other programs and she hated math. It was too easy or too confusing.

 

We took a break and started in BJU 2. She is happy with math now. She knows exactly how many problems we will do (2 pages) and how long math will last (until the two pages are done). It is easy for her right now (just finishing chapter 2), but she is okay with that.

 

In retrospect, we should have gone slower. When she started to not like it, we should have "parked". I should have figured out what she was having trouble with. We should have started back with RS after we took a break from math. I shouldn't have been so quick to change programs.

 

My dd7 and I discussed RS recently. We decided that it would be a good program to use with the youngest. We will start A with her in the fall and go slowly.

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I think three fair criticisms of RS are: 1) Not enough opportunity toward mastery within its spiral approach and 2) Not enough practice of facts and 3) weak in teaching word problems. So, do you spot any other weaknesses?
I don't agree with 1 and 2 at all. Word problems should be supplemented with Singapore CWP. RightStart isn't exactly spiral, though I can see how some might run into problems by skipping or downplaying the warmups (these are key both for introducing concepts and for letting existing skills gel). Level B is geared towards mastering addition. Level C towards subtraction and multiplication. I found RightStart (especially Level C) to be very much oriented to learning facts. Level B primarily uses games, but by Level C there are worksheets to help the child attain timed mastery of the facts.

 

We left RightStart because DD could no longer stand the teacher led nature of the program. She simply wanted more control, and Singapore is a good fit. I'll probably start my youngest in RightStart.

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I agree with Moira. RS is much more mastery in focus and then includes spiral review sheets every week, starting in level C. You also go back and play the games for spiral review. A spiral program introduces you to progressive tidbits of the skill, slowly and builds each year. RS does just the opposite, taking the student to the full extent of the skill (4 digit addition in 1st, not going through shorter problems first). For word problems, RS uses part whole circles as a method of attack quite effectively throughout all the levels. My dd has had no problem with word problems we've done in other things (Singapore CWP, BJU). Part whole circles are an extremely effective method of setting up word problems, because they allow the student to determine what is known and what is missing then determine the operation and equation, rather than jumping directly from keywords (which are sometimes misleading) to an equation. I'm all for understanding key/clue words in problem solving, but I like RS's approach conceptually.

 

I did RS A to the middle of D with my dd and did not adequately emphasize the drill element. It's there, but with the boring looking drill, young age of my student, my own inexperience, and the very auditory nature of the games (my dd is a dominantly visual learner), they weren't sticking. As I got to the end of D and realized we would be going into E in 3rd, it just didn't seem reasonable or what she needed, just too much of a jump. I looked at everything, tried a couple options (couple nothing, I own books of Horizons, singapore, CLE,...) and finally decided to go with BJU. It's been a good change and resolved some of those issues for us. After 6 or 7 months of that I've pulled back out my RS D to pick up some lessons where we left off and it's going quite well. I own E and like certain aspects of it a lot, so we'll probably continue forward and blend them. (E seems more comparable to a 5th grade math, wowsers.) My dd responds well to the colorful workbooks of BJU. A page of math in b&w (RS) just isn't the same as having the themes, activities, codes, pretty pictures, etc. in the BJU. That's just a fact of life. The conceptual teaching and mental math in RS are amazing and there were a few things in BJU that I was not skilled enough to present in a way that would click without going back to RS.

 

So what should someone else do? I don't know. If you have a mature enough student and they're responding well to the worksheets and you're doing ALL the drill in RS and you're seeing the facts stick, just proceed forward. If your student needs a bit different approach, I also like BJU a LOT. It produces good test scores (http://www.hightestscores.com), has all the components of a quality program (review, mastery instruction, spiral practice, challenging problems for advanced students), is not as mom-intensive, and is visually appealing. BTW, BJU is meant to be done with more than just the student worktext. There is spiral review in the tm, and if you aren't doing that you will want to do the Reviews workbook pages daily. There are 3 other optional workbooks (Spread Your Wings=remedial, Spring Into Action=more practice on the lesson of the day, and Stretch Your Mind=challenging application problems). My teacher friend who uses BJU assigns Spring as homework, and I think many children may need that extra practice. (You commonly hear people say BJU doesn't have enough practice, and it's because they're skipping the extra workbooks.) She said an advanced dc who doesn't need the practice should go on to do Stretch. When you look at it that way, it makes sense, since many other curricula (horizons for instance) have more assignments in their daily work.

 

No one curriculum is going to fit everybody, and I think my experience with my dd shows that sometimes the best curriculum is the one that fits the STUDENT. My dd enjoys the interactive nature of the RS lessons but likes the visual of the BJU pages. It's a shame I can't get both in one package. Ok, so I don't use the BJU tm, which might have good, interactive lessons. But it also has stories of this and that (rolling eyes) and all sorts of junk to get lost in. When I sit down to teach math, I want to teach MATH, kwim? I'm pregnant, irritable, and I'm not going to read a 20 minute character story about squirrels or some scientific fact just to have her forget how that applies to two digit mental math.

 

So I'm trying to sort out that balance for the both of us. I figure as long as she's moving forward and is happy and understanding, we're good. If you really want to switch, you could always use the original form of RS (Activities for the ALAbacus) along with another curriculum. And like the others, I tentatively expect to use RS again with my upcoming little, even if that is a few years off. :)

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Honestly, after I had a baby, it was too hard to do it everyday with two children at two different levels. It just wasn't getting done. They also weren't happy to play the games. We left Horizons for RS, and then went happily back to Horizons. My little guys won't have to go through that upset, we'll stay with Horizons all the way through.

--Dawn

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I've used B through half of E, and IMHO it's fine in the three areas you cited as being weaknesses. When we used it both of my children consistently scored in the 90th percentile on their standardized tests, and that just doesn't happen if a program is especially weak in a particular area. It's approach is different, and as you go up there is a lot of drill with the timed sheets and IF (notice caps) you play a game every day. I thought it was fine on word problems. I also never supplemented with another program.

 

We did switch though because I work more now than I used to, and it wasn't working for my oldest any more. In particular, E seemed like scattered topics, and he also needed more independent work in general.

 

Now we use CLE math and I'm happy with that too. Frankly if was not for the time involved, I probably would have kept my younger one in RS through level D and then switched, but she has a great foundation with just RS B.

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There is plenty of opportunity for mastery in Right Start. Level B really helped my oldest get good at addtion and regrouping. Starting in level C there is also a review sheet every 6th lesson I beleive.

 

The main reason we switched is because both my dd and I really, really dislike scripted lessons and really if you start dropping the script with RS you are missing out on a lot.

 

It is an excellent program but Singapore does the job for us with it's clarity and visual appeal.

 

Hope you find the program that works for you!:)

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I've used Levels B-E of RightStart. Right now DD8 is in Level D, and DS10 is in Level E. Both are doing well, but I do supplement a little, mostly because I don't find/make time for the games as often as I should. I think if you play the games, RightStart probably has more than enough drill, but I don't, so I use QuarterMile to supplement in that area. They still do the pencil-and-paper drills that are part of the daily RightStart lessons as well, but my son, especially, needs more work to cement his facts. Ten minutes a day with QuarterMile seems to be doing the trick. My sister is also a RS user, and she uses the Math Shark with her son and has seen good results with that.

 

For word problems, I've just begun supplementing with Critical Thinking Co.'s "Math Detective" book. It's probably too soon to say how effective this is, but I think the problems are interesting and very different from what they see in RS. I'm sure Singapore's CWP books would be an excellent choice as well; unfortunately, my dismal failure at teaching Singapore years ago has left me intimidated by all of SM's materials, so I'm afraid to go there.

 

Finally, I'm going to spend a little time before standardized testing this year working with my kids on rounding and estimation, which they scored poorly on last year. Normally, I'm no fan of "teaching to the test", but as best I can tell, RS doesn't teach this at all, ever, and I figure it can't hurt to give them some exposure to it.

 

So I haven't switched from RS, but I will be switching next year when DS is finished with Level E. I'm already feeling a little traumatized by the idea of leaving a program that has, in my opinion, made me a much better math teacher than I ever deserved to be.

 

SBP

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SBP, RS teaches estimation in level E. Have you looked at RS Geometry? It's what you could use after RS E. Dr. Cotter recommends using Challenge Math by Zaccaro along with it. If you want a level between that and starting pre-algebra, you could look at BJU6. (Many people seem to go to it happily from RS.) Then Dr. Cotter recommends VideoText Algebra.

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SBP, RS teaches estimation in level E. Have you looked at RS Geometry? It's what you could use after RS E. Dr. Cotter recommends using Challenge Math by Zaccaro along with it. If you want a level between that and starting pre-algebra, you could look at BJU6. (Many people seem to go to it happily from RS.) Then Dr. Cotter recommends VideoText Algebra.

 

 

Thanks for posting this! I'm going to print it out for the future. I've been wondering what I will do in between RS E and algebra for my daughter. That's still some time off for us, but I like to have some idea of our path.

 

Lisa

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SBP, RS teaches estimation in level E. Have you looked at RS Geometry? It's what you could use after RS E. Dr. Cotter recommends using Challenge Math by Zaccaro along with it. If you want a level between that and starting pre-algebra, you could look at BJU6. (Many people seem to go to it happily from RS.) Then Dr. Cotter recommends VideoText Algebra.

 

Thank you! I guess we just haven't gotten to the estimation in Level E yet - he just started it in January, so we're not too far into it yet.

 

I've considered doing RS Geometry, but the geometry portions of RS are the only parts that my son really, really hates. The thought of doing a whole year of it right now is pretty painful. I know we'll have to do it one day, but I'm not sure I want to go that route next year. I hadn't heard of Challenge Math, though - I'll give that a look, along with BJU6, which seems like it might be a good fit for us. Thanks for your advice :).

 

SBP

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Frequently, and in my own experience, I think programs work, or not, because of the comfort level of the teacher. Ds10 has always used Singapore at it's been a good fit for him, he's a "natural". Ds8 is an altogether different kind of math student. With him I've used Singapore, Right Start, Saxon, BJU. After 3 years of switching around we finally found the program that works for us (CMC).

 

For the most part, I agree with your comments regarding RS. But, in retrospect, I think I could have made any of the prior programs work if I had had enough patience.

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This post/replies have been so helpful to me! ::sigh of relief::

 

Karen, thank you for your humility and insights. I think w/my dd6 your advice proves very timely (move slowly; be willing to "park it").

 

nmoira, OhE, and GVA, I really appreciate you disagreeing with me and stating your reasons! I feel both humbled and encouraged to, not only proceed w/RS, but to get back to the core of RS: play the games (or as SBP shared to supplement), spend more time on warm-ups and practice sheets. I gradually moved away from RS "core" w/ds b/c math comes so easy for him that I didn't want to bog him down with "the extras"! He enjoys the games, though....

 

Thank you to everyone who replied for helping me see the *problem* is with me, not the program. Thanks for taking your time to help redirect me and offer other ideas, too.

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and then made the switch to BJU 4. I had Level E and was all set to do it. However, the more I looked through it, the less I liked it. Conceptually, it was all good but the sequencing of skills and lessons seemed random and I just didn't feel comfortable continuing with it as my primary program (I don't have time for juggling more than one program). I wanted something with a more standard sequence. My dd8 learned so much and gained so much from RS: the worksheets, the lessons, the word problems (I liked all of it). We never used the games even though I owned them because my dd didn't seem to need them or enjoy them. I planned to keep RS E and teach concepts "the RS way" as we approached them in BJU. But, truthfully, I needed the money to buy curriculum and I couldn't justify keeping it around just as a supplement because we've been very happy with our switch to BJU.

Anyway, I've said all of this to say that if you like the RS approach I don't think you'll regret sticking with it. It really doesn't have the weaknesses you've heard about.

 

Carolyn

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I didn't read the other posts except to scan through OhElizabeth's and a couple of others.

 

For us I'll say this: I completed RS through level D with my older son. It was very good for him. He did more more math fact practice and probably would have been fine had I given him all those fact sheets (Oops! :rolleyes:). So he learned what he didn't know in 4th grade really fast and has been flying since.

 

My younger ds has been different as we all are. I did level A and B with him and am very grateful that we did. We worked through part of level C which is where I found he needed more written practice with math facts than what we were getting in RS. I then switched him for some of the same reasons OhE stated. I still teach him the RS way if he struggles with something in BJU.

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Dd8 did RS A, then B-but stalled out partway through B because of the big jump in concepts presented (which I hear is very common.) So we stretched B out for a longer period of time (over 1 1/2 yrs) while still doing the games, etc. This particular child needs more spiral practice, and there were some things I thought were covered only sporadically in B (time, graphing, money, etc.) This is not to say that RS is not adequate in these things, just more spread out in their coverage of them so that by the time it came up again, she had forgotten it!

 

Our solution, which has been perfect for us so far, is to use CLE along with RS, but slightly behind RS so she's getting the concepts first in RS. I started her halfway through the Grade 1 CLE. I feel she's getting more facts practice (since we can't always play the RS games), and it gives her more of the daily spiral she needs. The CLE is very easy to do alongside-not time-consuming at all. (I thought about just switching to BJU, but I thought that for my purposes, the TM was VERY unwieldy and geared toward school and I didn't want to have to pick through it every day trying to find the important parts! Just my opinion.) I think we'll probably do this through RS D, then switch completely to CLE until higher math, when we'll probably switch to a video-based program.

 

This has only added about 15 minutes to our math time, and since she's seen the topics before in RS, she can do most of it independently. It's nice for her to see a different presentation of the same topics too.

 

Just wanted to give you another possible option!

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I don't think RS can be beat as far as its presentation of concepts. Dd can easily out-add me in her head, and it has helped this non-math mom learn more than she did in all her years of ps math! I've been thrilled with the way it has helped us both understand the "why" behind math concepts. I am starting ds5 on RS A this fall (he already uses the abacus and I've introduced him to some RS techniques.)

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