Our next core subject is Mathematics. I chose RightStart Math after a long deliberation. There are so many math programs available, and I had no desire to jump around from program to program trying to find the best fit.
The Well-Trained Mind recommends Saxon Math. I chose not to use this program because my niece (very similar in personality to Levi) struggled with Saxon (and math in general). I looked at Horizons Math which would have suited my learning style as a child and teaching style as an adult, but decided against a workbook-style program.
In the end, I chose RightStart Math for its ability to introduce math concepts in a variety of ways (visual, tactile, auditory) with little writing in the beginning stages. (I started Levi with RightStart A when he was four and not yet writing.) In general, I liked the RightStart approach and learning goals, feeling that it would best give Levi (and his brothers) a strong start in math.
The emphasis on groupings of five, both with tally sticks and beads on the abacus is brilliant. The math games make learning fun. The variety of manipulatives is terrific. Lessons are scripted (they tell you exactly what to do and say). Each lesson lists objectives, materials needed, warm-up, and activities. RightStart is teacher-intensive, which is fine with me as Levi does not do math well independently.
Planning is straight-forward. You decided how quickly you want to move through the program, plan a certain number of weekly lessons accordingly, schedule time to do math (plan extra time for catch-up, math games, and review), and spend time at the beginning of each week to look over the lessons and set aside materials that you will need.
Having a copier available is necessary for reproducing worksheets and other patterns, etc. from the spiral-bound lesson book.
Here is where I admit that math is the toughest subject for me to maintain consistency in. We are only half way through Level B (first grade), which technically is right on target for Levi's age, but I had hoped to finish the book by this time.
Math takes complete focus for both Levi and myself, more than any other subject. It also requires that we have the materials out and ready. Both Leif and Luke are incredibly distracting, and Luke begs to do math with us.
Lately, I've been working on making math our priority. My mom has been watching Leif a couple afternoons each week, so that is an incredible help. I also gathered all our supplies into a 'mobile math' bin, so that it is easy to grab and take to the table.
Luke usually sits on my lap and listens in, as well as being my partner in any math games. It is his favorite subject. I desperately need to get out Level A and start at the beginning with him (I want him to have the correct foundation, and he will pick it up quickly), but I will wait until Levi and I have found our math groove.
(Any math updates will be posted with the Math label.)