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A Bit about RightStart Math

A friend of mine, Karen, asked me recently about whether RightStart Math would be a good option for some fellow homeschoolers on one of her groups who were experiencing problems with “math discouragement”. I sent her a fairly detailed reply, and I thought I’d repost it here, for anyone else who is interested. I’ll be at the Love to Learn Conference in Hickory next Saturday, demonstrating RightStart Math, so this seemed like a timely topic to post!

Karen had asked me in particular about a rising 5th grader, so part of the answer is addressed to that question. Much of it though is applicable to children of all ages:

Hi Karen-
Yes, RightStart is often quite good for kids who have developed a dislike for math. Of course no program is good for everyone, but this one is very hands on and games oriented, and so often appeals to kids who have developed aversions to the purely worksheet or textbook approaches. It also appeals a lot to children who learn well from visualization and kinesthetic approaches to learning.

There are a couple of different ways to use RightStart, depending on whether you want to just supplement your existing program, or whether you want to use the RightStart complete math curriculum. The completed portion of the program goes from grades k-4. (Although the program does cover advanced concepts, and Cathy Duffy’s review states that she thinks children who finished the program during their 5th or maybe even 6th grade years would be on track with their peers. Her review of the RightStart program is at: )

There is a three part intermediate (middle school) program which is under construction, currently. The first module, Geometry, is almost ready, and it can be purchased in a relatively inexpensive preliminary format from the RightStart website now. (The remaining few lessons would then be downloaded as they are finished.) The last I heard, two other modules, Pre-Algebra, and Fractions/Ratios/Proportions, are planned. The intermediate books will function almost like unit studies, so the Geometry book approaches all sorts of middle school math topics from a geometric approach, for example. Since the other two modules aren’t ready yet, Dr. Cotter, who designed RightStart Math, recommends using RightStart Geometry with the Challange Math book (website is: )

If I had a fifth grader who needed something different for math, I’d probably do one of two things. If the child was basically on grade level, and understood the concepts, but was bored or just didn’t like the approach, I’d probably think about using the RightStart Games Kit to supplement what I was doing. I’d also consider switching to RightStart Geometry and Challenge Math if I felt like a big change was needed. (Becky Rupp said in Home Education Magazine that Challenge Math is a great resource for the worksheet-discouraged and the mathematically curious.”)

On the other hand, if the child has become so discouraged with math that he/she has fallen “behind” grade level, I might consider getting the RightStart Transitions book, and working through all the RightStart ways to do math, along with the games. The Transitions book starts at the beginning, and quickly progresses through many of the various “RightStart” tricks, games and manipulatives, and was designed for students who need to begin RS after the first grade level. The student works up to the level where you want to begin RS, before beginning the level. So, if the student is a bit “behind” going into 5th grade, it would be perfectly conceivable that they could work through the Transitions and then do the Level E (advanced 4th grade) before going on to middle school math.

There is a RightStart Math Yahoo group that is very active and good at answering questions, plus the RightStart customer service team is good at answering questions about how the program works, and how to work through things with your child. (The Yahoo groups is at )

Feel free to forward any or all of this information along, and let me know if you have any other questions!


UPDATE:  Dr. Cotter, the author of the RightStart Curriculum, has updated her recommendations for following RightStart Level E.  RightStart now recommends beginning the RightStart middle school Geometry program, working partway through that, and then incorporating the first module of VideoText Algebra to cover pre-algebra topics.  After finishing both of those, they believe your student will be well prepared to continue with the VideoText course, which covers Algebra I and Algebra II.  You can always utilize Challenge Math exercises if it seems appropriate for your child.

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One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. I actually got to see April’s Rightstart presentation at the Love to Learn curriculum. Looks even better than I had hoped! We have actually decided to have both younger children work on it together as my Emily, 11, is start to hit what I call the “4th grade math wall.” I can’t wait to get started!

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