RightStart Mathematics K-8

February 5, 2011
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RightStart Mathematics K-8

Content: Math
Grade(s): K – 8th
Perspective: Secular
Prep Time: Moderate
Teacher Manual: Yes
Teacher Involvement: Essential
Cost: $$$ || ?
Pages: 153
Publication Date: 2013 (2nd Edition)
Publisher: www.alabacus.com

Updated Review: May 6, 2014

From RightStart Mathematics’ website:

This unique hands-on program de-emphasizes counting, uses visualization of quantities, and provides strategies (visual pictures) for learning the facts. Understanding and problem solving are emphasized throughout the curriculum.

The primary learning tool is the AL Abacus, a specially designed two-sided abacus that is both kinesthetic and visual. The AL Abacus is grouped in fives and tens for quick recognition of quantities. Children develop visual strategies as they use this manipulative. The back side of the AL Abacus teaches place value to the thousands.

Practice is provided with math card games, minimizing review worksheets and eliminating stressful flash cards. These games provide interesting and varied repetition that is needed for the automatic responses to the facts. More importantly, these games provide an application for new information and create hours of fun learning math facts and concepts.

The RightStart™ Mathematics homeschool program is set up with levels, rather than grades, so that your child can begin at the proper level and advance at their own pace. A Free Placement Test is available to help gauge which level your child should start.

The entire RightStart Mathematics curriculum is being rewritten. Currently, only levels A, B, and C are available in the 2nd Edition.

About the Author:
Dr. Joan A. Cotter holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an AMI Montessori diploma for ages 3-6, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from College of St. Thomas, Minnesota, (now University of St. Thomas) and an earned Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Cotter designed the double-sided AL Abacus and wrote RightStart Mathematics. The RightStart curriculum is an outgrowth of her doctoral research.

Because one opinion is never enough! Have you ever used RightStart Mathematics? How did it work for your family? Share your review below.



  • Mimi November 30, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I used RightStart Math for my son, now 14yo. My son is almost entirely an auditory learner. I think he is right brained, but I haven’t thought about that much. He does not like being challenged in math at all – easily overwhelmed by new or “complicated” problems. I found RS to be a great fit for him because new concepts are introduced verrrry gradually, and sometimes imperceptibly, to the student. Very few problems to do on each worksheet (with the exception of practice sheets for multiplication, addition, subtraction and division). This appealed *greatly* to my son. I have found that some families do not like the program. My 9yo daughter (visual learner) can’t stand it. But she doesn’t like doing most of her schoolwork, so I can’t tell if it is this particular program she doesn’t like, or her general reaction to being forced to think about things she doesn’t enjoy. She is definitely struggling with multiplication. We had to resort to flashcards for her, which we did not have to do for my son. Maybe that means it is not as effective for a visual learner. I loved that the last level of RightStart was geometry. I felt that it gave my son’s brain a chance to rest from mental calculations and shift gears to more conceptual math (hands on, building 3D shapes). I found that when we returned to calculations (using VideoText Interactive Algebra) he had somehow mastered multiplication in the meantime. I feel that RS gave my son an excellent foundation in math because it was thorough but very gradual. Kids who like grappling with challenging math problems might find this program to be too slow or boring.

  • CW February 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I used RS for one of my three children. I’d describe the other two as very math-intuitive, but the kid who learned with RS absolutely hated math. After trying several programs, I stumbled onto RS when he was almost 8. At that point, he knew almost no addition or subtraction facts and couldn’t even reliably count without missing numbers. He did not love RS either, but one of its strengths is that it’s very adaptable. We spent nearly 2 years on level B. By then, he had forgotten his earlier unhappy math experiences. We stuck with RS through geometry. He’s in public school now taking precalculus and totally getting it.

  • Selene Cox May 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I started using Right Start so my son could explore higher math concepts without being required to do a lot of writing. If I had to do it over again, I would definitely have chosen to go up a level, instead of down. The placement test said we should have started with B. My son is really smart and I didn’t want to push him with math. We wound up repeating a lot of things and it was frustrating. We eventually skipped level D and we’re at a good place of challenge at the age 8. Each lesson it tells you its objectives. If I think my son knows it, we go through it quickly and do a couple lessons in a day.

  • Rachelle B February 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I really love RightStart. We’ve completed RightStart A and are presently using RightStart B. I feel good about the solid mathematical foundation I am providing my children. The criticism I see of RightStart is that it might be teacher intensive. This puzzles me a bit because I think any effective early elementary math program will require the teacher to be with the child for the lesson. Our RightStart A lessons were about 15 minutes and the RightStart B, so far, just a bit longer. I had essentially no preparation because the program tells me what I need (all provided) as well as what to do and say. For myself, who isn’t math minded, I like being provided with all the information I need to give my children the foundation I never had. I’m learning how I should have been taught to think about math! I’m very pleased!

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