Thursday, February 25, 2016

Progress report and review: RightStart Math

I am so pleased with RightStart Math. We are using the 2nd ed. of level B and are on lesson #63/140.

I do get why some moms are a little intimidated by the teacher-intensive aspect of it. You are doing a lesson one-on-one with the child, and they may have a worksheet here and there to do independently but for the most part it involves the teacher's direct attention.

I get that some would prefer math to be more independent. Hand the child a worktext or DVD course, let them do the work and then check/review with them later.

For some situations, that model makes plenty of sense. For me and my purposes right now, I absolutely want math to be one-on-one. More intense, yes. More work on my part, well sure. As we get on down the road and I'm adding more independent work for my eldest, I think I'd rather have other subject areas be more independent, vs. make changes to what we're doing with math (as I see it from this point). I trust RightStart and I'm going to make it work.

If you're juggling multiple levels of RightStart at once, spread across a few children, this is a helpful post on ideas on how to get it done.

A typical RightStart day starts with a "warmup" which is a very quick review and verbal mental math to get the child in math mode. It also helps review concepts and see if there are areas that need more work. It's quick. My son sometimes complains: "I know this already!" "I know. It's just a few problems. Do them with a good attitude so we can move on to what's new for today."

The warmups are so helpful, as they are fairly quick and painless reviews on topics. I do not recommend skipping them in level B. Maybe level A, if it is so very clear that the child knows it forwards and backwards.

The lesson begins, and we might use the abacus, square plastic tiles, a geoboard, whatever. The RightStart manipulatives kit has a wide variety of items, and all that we've used so far have been well-made and effective.

There might be a worksheet, and sometimes I'm instructed to let my child do it independently. Sometimes I'm instructed with various prompts as he does it. The worksheets are concise. You aren't doing pages of the same thing.

Often, the TM will include a game to use as additional learning and practice. RightStart says 15 minutes of playing a math game is roughly equivilent to doing a worksheet. Except, they aren't doing a worksheet, they are doing a game! YAY!

I find it easy to gloss past the games and not do them, and that is a practice I need to remedy. The games do provide practice in important areas. It is a part of the program and it isn't considered optional. I think the main hangup, is sometimes it takes us a little bit to figure out the rules of the game. It can take awhile to play, and sometimes the setup (usually a card game) is suddenly very enticing to my 2nado.

Some RightStart families handle this by doing regular RS lessons 4 days a week, and doing all the suggested games on the 5th. Or, having dad play the games with the kids. OR, siblings playing games with each other. OR, popping on a video/giving the 2nado a usually off-limits toy and playing the game out of her reach.

We had to slow waaay down a few lessons back, when we were doing place value to the thousands. RightStart did a great job of making the child understand what was going on with the base 10 system. I had no problem slowing it down, because I think it helped my child ruminate on what was going on. By the end of that cluster of lessons, he totally got it and was adding 4-digit numbers with ease. Hoo-ah!

Now, we're back to one lesson per day. I've noticed that these lessons are quick and seem simple to him, which is a nice mental break.

He really enjoys this program and I am so thrilled.

We will continue onward at his pace, whether that's one lesson per day, or one per week, doing just a portion at a time. And yes, I need to find a way to make sure the games happen more or less as scheduled.

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