We went to our state’s homeschooling convention recently. After surveying the math scene, we ended up buying a beginning math set from the RightStart curriculum. We had been to a homeschooling convention a few years ago and I had been so impressed with this curriculum that I had purchased the Geometry set, thinking I could incorporate it into my classroom since I was teaching high school Geometry that year. Well, as it turns out, there was no time or energy to be found that year, so the entire set sits invitingly on my bookshelf, waiting for new homeschooling adventures instead. 🙂 I decided this year to pick up the first set in the series and start it slowly with my son. (This is not an affiliate post — just stories of our experience with it.)
So we’ve had a few sessions so far and I’m still impressed with the math activities and teaching philosophy. N (my 4 year old) is doing well with it. I’ve introduced it during evenings where J (2 year old) goes to sleep early and he gets to stay up later to do math with me. That’s the magic right there — link math with some unique, super special opportunity and BAM. You get a 4 year old begging to do math because he loves it so much ;).
Here’s a few insights into our learning moments (that went a little bit awry but make for good stories at least).
We were playing with the abacus the first night and I tried showing him how to count with the beads. It went something like this:
Me: Ok, I have a question for you. Can you show me 5? Good. Now can you show me 10?
N: No, mommy, that’s not really the question that I want. I’m busy right now. I’m shooting the lava with the water from my space ship.
Hah. So we played lava shooters for a while. He did get around to a bit more math later, but I was happy to let him just play with the manipulatives and get comfortable using them. No need to make him hate doing math from day 1!
In a later lesson we were working on using tally sticks to count by groups of 5’s. I was trying to emphasize the value of using the sideways stick to show that the group was complete so that you could tell at a glance, without counting, that there were 5 tally sticks there. I showed him how they could stand for the people in our family — one for daddy, one for mommy, one for N and one for lil dude. I wasn’t sure what to say about the 5th one though so we said it could be Grandma. That created a problem, however, because he didn’t want to leave Grandpa out, so he kept putting 6 sticks in a group, then closing his eyes and opening them and saying, “see! There’s 6 sticks — I can tell at a glance!” It was impossible to change his mind and convince him that a group of 5 was more useful than a group of 6 for purposes of counting large amounts of objects — he kept trying to figure out who would be left out of our family if we did that and got really flustered. So I learned not to anthropomorphize our math manipulatives and he learned … how to tell if there are six sticks at a glance, I guess.
We got a bit more into the swing of things as the lessons went on, but we definitely progressed in good 3-4 minute chunks of attention span. One day he had created recycled robots with Daddy and was much more interested in making the robots climb a rope up the side of the bookshelf than count objects in groups of 5’s (even though he promised he was paying attention and WANTED to do math with me 😉 ). So I tried a new tactic which worked surprisingly well — I started asking his robots questions — and N answered back for them in different squeaky voices. I got a lot more leverage out of that than I expected, and he seemed to be none the wiser to my tricks. I guess he thought the robots were just pretty good at math. 🙂
So I guess this isn’t a review of the curriculum so much as some snapshots into our homeschooling life 😉 but I’m going to leave it at this for now since it’s not an affiliate post anyway. I may do a more thorough review in the future as we get more into it. For now, I would just say, as a former math teacher, I really like what I’ve seen regarding the discovery-type learning style and I look forward to using it with my own kids throughout the next several years.
If you’ve used this curriculum or found any other amazing math programs, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Other Math Monday posts:
- Ten-frame math with seashells
- Cotton Ball Algebra
- Sticker Bar Graphs
- Exponential Growth (for kids)
Teaching and Learning Products
To see my series of activity-based lesson packs and other learning resources (Pre-K – 12th grade), visit my store at: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Sandra-Balisky