Rightstart or MEP? — Simply Charlotte Mason

Topic | Rightstart or MEP?

This topic contains 18 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  andream 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • ibkim2

    My ds will be starting  year 1 in 2-3 months.  I had planned to start with MEP, but had $100 of our homeschool budget set aside in case MEP didn’t work out to purchase Rightstart or MUS.  My son is finishing ps K and has informed me that I don’t need to teach him math at all because he already knows everything he needs to know about addition, subtraction, and knows what the “x” sign means, lol.  I have showed him how to use the traditional abacus and have taught living math concepts during his preschool years.   He seems to be catching on to doing math mentally well for his age.   

    I recently came across the complete set for Rightstart B (all the manipulatives, games/DVD, lesson book, worksheets) for $99 vs. the $160 it would cost to buy new.  I bought it on impulse because there was a line behind me of moms drooling over the deal.   The moms around me assured me I could resale the set for the same price if the program didn’t work out.  Also, I was thinking if my son doesn’t do well with MEP, I don’t want to be stuck spending more than $100 for a math program a few months into our school year.  

    So, for experienced users of either program, any advice on trying one program over the other first.  I have either program ready to go.   MEP is of course my 1st choice regarding budget, but if I’m able to sell Rightstart materials after I’m done with them for  1/2 the cost that would soften the blow of putting so much money into a math program each year.  (plus, my younger dd would be able to use the program later).

    Thanks in advance!


    Well, I have used MEP levels R, 1, and part of 2… and am using RS Level B…. so here is my take on it.

    MEP is a pretty good program. I assume you have read up on it and looked into it.  In year 1, it goes through addition and subtraction very methodically… starting at about the number 4 or 5, and doing various programs that work around that number.  It includes some pretty advanced concepts like <, >, <=. >=, not equal, # more than, # less than.  The puzzles are cool, and some include concepts like solving 2 unknowns with 2 equations (but on a simple level of course.)  It does the number for a week or two, then moves to the next number (including review.)    It recommends counters of some sort for manipulatives… and has paper strips for the numbers.  The manipulatives I would recommend with it are Cuisinaire Rods (instead of the paper strips) and a set of dominoes.

    But – my son did start struggling with multi-digit math in level 2…. and I didn’t know how to help him.  The activities and worksheets didn’t give me any idea on how to help him.

    So – we switched to RS B – and so far my kids are LOVING it.  (We are almost finished level B.)  I do find the program sometimes jumps topics a bit in comparison.  The Abacus makes so much sense, and my kids understand how to do addition so much better.  They are doing 2 digit math in their heads – things like what is 68+27.  They are doing 4 digit addition right now – my daughter with the abacus, and my son without.  

    There doesn’t seem to be ANY problem at all selling RS materials – there is a RS Yahoo group and people buy things on their quickly…   

    If you do decide to go with MEP, keep the RS game book and cards… they work great with any program.    

    If you do RS – you may go through the first lessons fairly quickly (although learning to recognize quantity without counting can take a while for some kids)… he might think it is too easy… but they do some pretty neat things after a few weeks that he is unlikely to think is too easy.    (You might want to do the placement test on the RS site, just to make sure…)


    We have used RSM for levels A and B, starting C in July. If you look at their catalog, you’ll see that if you buy a level C “starter kit,” for someone using the program for the first time, it costs more than a level C “upgrade”. This is because you reuse materials from one year to the next. 

    In addition, you can find the teacher’s manuals used for less money and the student books are not that expensive and you are set! It can be done for less. We just purchase new each time because we plan to use the materials with three children and figure we are saving that way.

    My older son was not an eager learner and he has love RSM B. My second son is very eager and he has quickly completed A and we’ll start B in the fall, giving him some time to mature before tackling those advanced concepts.


    Mtnmama, thanks for your input.  At bedtime last night I shared with dh my dilemna about what to start with, knowing a commitment to RS will cost money each year and MEP will cost paper and ink.  After, explaining the academic advantages of how math is taught in each program, he thinks I should use the RS program since money is invested in that, and keep MEP in mind as a back up if RS doesn’t “click”.  I explained to him I would be spending $50-$100 each year on math (depending on if I find used at a good price or need to buy new), and he is fine with that since we are likely to get a portion of that back by reselling.  


    Suzuki mom, I have studied the MEP program (the year 2 in depth and the other years just glancing).  I also think it is a great program.  It does seem challenging to teach, but I am a mathy person and feel like I could creatively teach it.  But like you, I can see how my dc and I could hit a roadblock as more advanced concepts are introduced without specific guidance and manipulatives.  I learned multi-digit math on paper by carrying.  While I can figure math well on paper, there is no way I could do large number addition mentally.  Even figuring out percentages at store sales I want a piece of paper to write out the formula of how much 30% off a $40 dress would be.  

    The RS placement test online does place ds at level B.  However, starting with RS B, do I need to first take time explaining the concept of 12 being 1-ten-2 or 32 being 3-ten-2 before starting the formal lessons?  Also, as I didn’t learn math by place value with 10 as a base , do I need to take another week explaining the concept of 9+3 being 10+2?  Or will this be addressed in the book as I go along?  Ds adds and subtracts easy problems in his head, but he doesn’t do it using 10 as the main base.  For example, he asked how much I weighed and how much dh weighed a short time ago.  He gasped “wow, dad, you weigh more than mom!”.  For fun, I asked him how much more and he counted on his fingers 18 lbs correctly.  However, I am sure the idea of subtracting 2 from 2-tens would be overwhelming.  

    Thank you again for your input.


    I think you have made a great choice.  MEP is a great program, but I think RS is so much better, and easier to work through times when kids are stuck (play the games at that time!)

    RS B starts right at the beginning.  Oh, just so you know, I’ve been using level B with my 8yo son and 6yo daughter this year….   When you get to working with 1-ten, 2-ten, etc…  I just took a moment to explain to my kids that for now, we would call these numbers a new “math way”… and that it was to help us remember that 10 is 1 group of 10… that 11 is 1 group of 10 and 1 more, etc… and that later on we would use regular numbers.  They sometimes used regular numbers – but I would use the “math way”.  It wasn’t a big problem.  


    As for the strategies (9+3 is the same as 10+2) – that is all taught in the program.  Having looked in preparation for level C – they are reviewed / strengthened in level C as well.  So no worries there.  

    If he is used to doing math by counting on his fingers, that will take a while to unlearn….  and you will need to watch for him doing it.  Otherwise, it is great that he knows math so well already.

    You will want to join the Yahoo group…. it has great information.  Things to know – play the games more often than it says in the lessons!  That is so important!   Also know that there is a “wall” around lesson 65-70ish where a lot of kids start having a hard time… this is where doing the mental math (2 digit math) and the strategies are really being used.  The exact place that it gets hard for the child varies a bit.  Plan to play lots of games in around here.  Also, Joan Cotter has said on the Yahoo group to let the child use the abacus if they want, even if the book says not to…  whe plans to change the wording on them at some point.  (I try to get them to do it without on the questions that say – but then they can check, or if getting frustrated they can use the abacus)


    Hey ibkim2, I’ve made up a little “lesson schedule” for level B… to give an idea when to play games etc, but designed to finish the course in 180 days.  There are extra game days scheduled around the “wall” I mentioned.   It takes into consideration the lessons that generally take 3 or 4 days to do.

    It isn’t meant to be followed tightly… that is, it is more important to move the speed that is right for your child.  But I found it helpful to give me an idea of whether I was kind of on-track or not.  (I found just looking at the lesson number didn’t help, as some take more than one day by design.)  

    But what it allows for me to do is have a look at what week/day we are on in school, and look at the plan, and see that we are ahead of schedule, so it is no problem if I want to do a game day…. or otherwise see that no, we don’t particularily have any extra time, so do a lesson (unless the kids really NEED a game day…).  It also reminds me to take game days too…

    I just made it a few weeks ago, and made one for level C as well – but I’m glad I made level B too…

    If you want it, PM me your email address….


    Thanks, suzukimom!  This is so helpful to all of us who will be starting RS B in the fall! 🙂


    If this were facebook, I’d hit the “like” button on the above comment.


    For anyone interested, I’ve posted my plans in the Yahoo Group I use for files for my blog…


    You will need to join, and I am pretty sure I have all messages disabled on it.

    There is one for level B, and one for level C…. 

    It is a “class plan” similar to Donna Young.  That is, it isn’t a M-F do this week type plan – but a 5 across, and whatever down reference for each lesson – just do in order.  And as stated… it is more for a guide to help you know if you are on track for 180 days, and to remind to play games than a schedule.  It is more important to go at your child’s speed than to finish in a year.

    Also note that from the yahoo group – it is common for level C to take a year and a half….  We also haven’t done level C yet, and I don’t know where any “walls” might be…  In level C, roughly every 6th lesson in RS is a review lesson with games – and I have scheduled a game day once every other ‘week’ – so they might hit sometime right by each other – I haven’t adjusted for that.


    One thing that caught my attention was your son wanting to do math on his own. If that is the case neither RS or MEP will be a good fit since there is such a huge one-on-one component.



    Can I bring this up again? I’d like to do RS with our LoF Elementary, and I think I’d start both my girls (8/3rd and 6/1st) in B. I know that RS is very teacher intensive, and that’s fine with me. How much time per day do you spend on a lesson, and how much prep time is there weekly? Also, I’ve read that over time the program becomes tiresome with so many manipulatives. Can anyone speak to that? My girls are coming from Miquon and Singapore and my older daughter used Math Lessons for a Living Education a bit last year as well. Oh, do you think it’s okay to start both girls in B? My 8yo is still learning her add/sub math facts … no where near multiplication. Last one … where do you go from RS since it doesn’t go much past late elementary and/or some jr high. Thank you so much!

    You can spend as much time as you want with RS (or any other program). A lesson doesn’t always equate to one day. Prep time is minimal – just looking through the lessons and making sure your material is available.


    Interesting timing to have this bought up again, because I did a light start of Rightstart with ds.  He does not like all the manipulatives or the songs!  He wants to do his own things with the abacus vs. what the lesson tells him to do.  He wants to figure up numbers his own way.  So this week I took out some MEP lessons I had printed out before purchasing Rightstart, and he likes the MEP lessons I present on the chalkboard and the worksheet problems  better.   We orginally thought it was a no brainer to use the program we paid for vs. the free (minus paper and ink cost) program.  I debated pushing through with Rightstart to get to the more challenging lessons, but when comparing the 2 side by side a second time around (having presented both styles to ds) and having my dh actually look at the lessons in both programs (before dh was just hearing what I thought vs. looking at the different program styles), we now agree that MEP fits our ds’s learning style better for now.  Looking ahead, we see where many of the Rightstart B lessons will come in handy to better explain some of the MEP material.  Also, we are going to hold on to the program for my dd who at 4 wants to drag out the Rightstart manipulatives ALL the time and wants to hear the songs, as she may do better with RS down the road..  I hope to get out the Rightstart games throughout the school year as well.


    We do about 30 min lessons of RS in Level B – I usually set a timer – if we are done before the timer, we play a math game.  If not – I continue the lesson the next day…

    Prep time – when I first got the program I did a bunch of reading…   Now – quick preview of the lesson, get out any manipulatives needed…  maybe 5 minutes?

    Did you take the RS placement “test” to place your kids?  We did Level B with my 6yo and 8yo together last year…


    Thank you very much. I think it sounds like I would need to just give it a try with my girls. My daughter who used Miquon and Singapore in K, 1st, and 2nd, loves it. She has no issues with it. I can see that she gets a bit burnt with it, but maybe it’s that way with any program. My next daughter would never be able to sit for Singapore. She’ll all hands on and math completely clicks for her naturally. My next two are too young to tell and one is adopted from Africa so his language is a factor (K this year, but like 22 months developmentally). 

    We did the placement test and while my 8yo can do C I think she’d be better off in B. Thank you, again! Oh, we live in a tiiiiiiiiiiiiny house so storing all the manipulatives is something I’m thinking about too.

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