Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Choosing a math curriculum

Choosing a math curriculum has been one of my biggest struggles so far.  I really wanted to choose a curriculum that gives my children a great math foundation based on actually understanding what they were doing and not just repeating back facts to me that they memorized. 

I initially was very committed to Math U See.  The Cobbler was also very enthusiastic about Math U See because he liked how Steve Demme (the program's founder) teaches the concepts in an easy to understand way on a kid's level on the DVD that accompanies the program.  He also liked the plastic colored manipulative rods that are used with each level too.  I was all on board and ready to buy it until I heard from a couple of users I know that the kindergarten level (Primer) was boring for their children and they could have gotten the same results from a workbook purchased at Wal-Mart. They were, however, very pleased with their kids progress using the Math U See first grade level and beyond.

Then I saw Rightstart Mathematics at a friend's house.  I had read about it online, and my friend gave glowing reviews about how she felt her son was really getting math with this program.  I also liked that there were lots of games to be played and not a lot of writing required in Level A (kindergarten).  Perfect for my little Red!  When I read all the reviews I could find about this program, the only complaints I could find were that it requires a lot of teacher prep (although people using it commented that it wasn't so bad once you got rolling with the program) and if you have a kid who wants "just the facts" and doesn't like games then the program isn't for him.  Well, I'm not afraid of some extra prep if it will help my kid "get it" and Red LOVES games.  No problem here!  The Cobbler was a little hesitant because the main manipulative is an abacus and for some reason that he can't put his finger on he doesn't care for it.  After discussing it more, he decided that for the other reasons I cited earlier that Rightstart would be a good fit for Red too.  As far as Tom Thumb goes, we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there.

I went to a used curricula sale last weeked and was unable to find Rightstart Level A or B.  I did find the Level C lessons and worksheets for $5 (SCORE!) and the math card games book for $7 (Score again!).  Even though I can't use Level C until 2nd grade, I knew I would never find it at that price again.  And I can always sell it on eBay if we don't stick with it.  I'm now on the hunt for the levels I actually need.  There's mixed feeling amongst people who are using it now whether it is worth starting with A or not or if you should just plow into B.  Apparently B reviews everything that is in A just at a more rapid pace.  I guess I'll see what I can find on eBay or amongst my fellow homeschooling friends before I buy new.

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