Topic | Math for the beginning student

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  • Monica

    In the fall I will be working on some more “formal” math with my daughters, who will be 5 and 6.  The two girls are generally at the same level.  My 6YO takes a bit longer to pick up on concepts.  She will technically be in 1st grade in the fall, but she’s more at a K level.

    Manipulatives are going to be a must for my 6YO, especially.  My older kids both picked up math quickly and so I didn’t have any worries about them “seeing” what they were calculating.

    I’m considering a few different curriculums.  I really think I need something to guide me through this year to build a good foundation.  Anyone have things to say about –

    -RightStart – looks like a popular one.  I’m concerned about the amount of prep time

    -Shiller Math – this looks fantastic, but I haven’t heard many reviews about this one

    -MUS Primer Level – I used MUS Beta, liked it pretty well, but I used it with my son who grasped math very quickly.  Enough manipulatives for younger students?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


    My son struggles with math. MUS did not work for him. He understands the AL abacus with Rightstart pretty well. We started with their book, Activities for the AL abacus, and math card games. We ended up switching to their curriculum. It is very hands-on with many manipulative. If you go this route, they have a Yahoo group to join. It is teacher intensive. I know some people set a timer. At times, we take a break from it and do other math practice work. My daughter, though, catches on to math quickly and could use any program.


    We use RightStart also. I really like the curriculum, and how it progresses. I also love that we can stay where we are at and play games and activities with manipulatives until we understand a concept. It isn’t necessary to master a concept fully before moving on to the next lesson though, because each lesson reviews and teaches in small steps.

    As for the amount of time it takes to prepare: I have pulled out the manipulatives we currently use and keep them together where we do our math. Each weekend I spend some time looking through the lessons I expect to teach the coming week – usually 3. There is a list for each lesson of materials needed, so I can quickly see if there is a new manipulative, or other household item we’ll need. I put those with our math things. I read the lessons, skimming mostly, to make sure I understand what we are going to cover.



    Another RightStart fan.  I think it is great.

    It really doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.  – keep in mind I’m doing edition 1, so can’t comment on edition 2…    In level A and B there is occasionally something you need to copy/print and cut out….   the finger/tallystick/dot cards, or some rectangles or triangles.  Occasionally you need a 9×12 sheet of paper.  These really aren’t very often, and get to be fewer and fewer.  Very little prep.

    I have all the manipulatives, except the math balance, stored in a portable file-box – which comes out at math time, so I don’t even have to get out the items ahead of time.

    I don’t generally even read ahead – when finishing up one lesson I generally glance at the next one to see what the topic is (and if I need to prep anything)



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