Home - HomeschoolMath.net
Free lessons Curriculum guide Reviews Menu
You are here: HomeCurriculum reviews → RightStart

RightStart Mathematics

Grades: K-4      RightStart Mathematics

RightStart Mathematics is a hands-on and visual program for grades K-4. It uses the AL abacus to help visualize concepts and strategies for memorizing the facts. Practice is provided through Math Card Games.

RightStart does not emphasize counting as the starting point for mathematics but instead the child is taught to visualize quantities grouped in 5s and 10s with the help of the AL abacus. Place value is made easier by using number names that exactly match with math: for example, 12 is called "ten 2" (or "1-ten 2") and 23 is "2-ten 3".

It has daily lesson plans for the teacher in a spiral-bound book, and worksheets for the child in another spiral-bound book. The child uses the AL abacus, plus various other manipulatives and aids, such as card games, colored tiles, geoboard, thousand cubes, etc.

They also sell a separate geometry course, designed to be very hands-on. A lot of the work is done using a drawing board, T-square, triangles, compass and angle ruler. It includes middle school geometry topics plus many more, but even fourth-grades could do the beginnings of it.

Pricing: Level A $125, level B $175, level C $220, level D $225, Level E $215 (starter kits). These match grades K-4. Level G (geometry) $150. See more details about the geometry course.

Click here to write a review


Reviews of Rightstart Mathematics

Time: 3 1/2 Years

Your situation: We began using RS when my DD was in first grade. We started with level A, but found she was bored, so we moved up to level B. My DD struggles with the sequential skills necessary to math, and it is her least favorite subject. My DS is a year and a half younger, and math comes easily for him, so I have taught both kids together, although they are in different grades.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I like RS very much because it not only is rigorous, but it also requires that the children learn to understand the math they are using. My DD would be quite happy with a workbook approach in which she simply had to do the same thing over and over again, but I love that she has to learn to think mathematically with RS. I have seen her thinking skills improve noticeably over the time we have used this program. As a teacher, I appreciate that the lessons are semi-scripted, which helps me know how to present the information. The manipulatives, especially the abacus that easily shows fives and tens, are an excellent addition to the program.

I do find that there is not always enough review built into the lessons and sometimes I have to make up problems to give more review. And sometimes the initial presentation of a concept can be confusing in the teacher's manual; it helps to read through the lesson once before teaching it.

Any other helpful hints: As others have mentioned, the lessons are very long and often challenging, particularly in level C. It took us a year and a half to get through level B, and has taken us nearly two years to finish level C. However, my children's foundation in math is very strong now, and I am not concerned that we are "behind grade level".


Review left December 9, 2014
Time: 4 Years

Your situation: I have homeschooled from the beginning and my oldest is now in 3rd grade. I found RS math at a homeschool convention while my oldest was in Kindergarten. I was using Abeka and found it didn't click at all my child. It was too much counting and memorizing. So that year, I was bound and determined to find something that was better suited to teaching her math. And I found it! RightStart is a wonderful program.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: My children have learned SO much in math. They blow people away with their understanding. They have never had to learn any math facts except adding 5 to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Stemming from that and building upon those skills, they were able to completely understand number value, can do more complex math word problems, understanding fractions and being able to easily add various units of measure togethers (like feet and inches, hours and minutes, converting from ounces to gallons to quarts).

I also appreciate that with level A and level B, there is minimal writing. My second child struggled with fine motor skills in K and 1st and can still do math very well, thanks for RightStart math, even though he had trouble with writing for prolonged periods of time.

I will recommend this program to everyone I meet. I think it fits most children's learning styles and I think it is best math program available. Math was always my favorite subject in school and I truly believe it is my kids favorite subject as well because of the RightStart math program.

Any other helpful hints: This program may be more highly parent involved than some other programs but with the younger grades I expect to be working more one-on-one with my children anyway. I personally do not like to teach through worsheets for most subjects (personal choice). However, in my humble opinion, not all levels are extremely time-consuming. I can honestly say that with level C, by the end of that level, my oldest was able to work alone for at least 50% of most of her lessons. She is now on level D and she does work about 50% on her own as well. As for level A and B, those levels were done mostly one on one. And because some these lessons were longer in level A and B, we would occasionally split a lesson up over 2 days. In addition, I found that if my child didn't catch on to the concept right away, we may repeat a lesson a few times or I would have them do a little bit more practice instead of the next lessons, and we still comfortably finished each level within 1 year. However, please note, these are levels - not grades. By the end of this program, your child will be ready for pre-algebra. There are 6 levels in this program and if you start in kindergarten, then your child would start pre-algebra in 6th grade. That being said, do not feel pressured to finish each level in 1 year.

Daneale Williams

Review left October 19, 2012
Time: 1.5 years Your situation: I have a first grader who did level a last year and is on 1/2 of level B. My now second grader did last year with the transition lessons then level c.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: Pros: I just love the way they teach with the Abacus, and that concepts are learned, not simply rote memorization. The games are fun for the children to play. The Math Balance is a great learning tool, as well as a fun way to teach many concepts.

Cons: as others have mentioned it is teacher intensive. Some of this is great b/c I am able to sit down with my children and learn it too. While there is intensity everything is planned out for you. There are no requirements as far as getting materials together or a large prep time before hand. Usually I am opening the book for the first time as I sit down with them.

My second dd is not math minded and stepping into this wasn't for her. She had us and a tutor and struggled through the last year. I felt that even with the transition lessons, there was a lot missing for her to simply step into level c.

On the other hand my five year old who was only taught by this method, picked it up and ran with it.

Summary: I really like this program, and would recommend it. At the same time I recognize it's not for every child.

Any other helpful hints: As someone else said there are other ways to get the manipulatives. Or some of them are easily made by you (ie place value cards, tally sticks, etc) the Hundreds blocks that come with the kit are pretty flimsy.


Review left January 19, 2012
Time: over 1 year

Your situation: I began homeschooling my twin girls last year in 3rd grade. Math was a huge factor in our decision to home school. I found RightStart at a homeschool convention and was impressed. I also liked the fact that other experienced home school moms were there selling it and could share their math curriculum experiences with you.

Why you liked/didn't like the book:
I love the philosophy, manipulatives and ease of teaching Right Start. We did the transition workbook the summer before we began home school. My girls would repeatedly tell me that they were not Asian and did not enjoy relearning to count the Asian way. I wish I could have taught them this way from the start. I have one math-brain and one who despises math. They love the card games-although I need to play them beyond what is in the lessons. My non-math child still counts on her fingers b/c that is how she learned in public school. I'm trying to retrain her to "see the abacus" and to use the strategies to understand math. It has been a hard process for her still.

Cons: I feel that we are behind in math. I began with level C for them in 3rd grade. They haven't learned decimals, communicative properties, adding fractions and I feel that it is slow teaching multiplication and division. They missed a few things on the standardized test simply because they had not been exposed to them. I am supplementing with worksheets for division and multiplication b/c I feel they need to keep up with their peers and I want them to meet our state's benchmarks. I'm questioning skipping D and moving on to E because it is repetitive and slow, but at the same time, I love the review and how it reinforces the concepts and my girls get it-so I will continue. Overall, I feel that it is a very good math program. As a home school teacher, I feel a need to teach with excellence and want to challenge and help my girls excel in each subject.

Any other helpful hints: If you try and fit in your math curriculum in one school year, you will need to double up on the lessons. They are parent intensive. My girls go a full-day once a week to a gifted program so we double up two days in order to finish the review tests each week. That is how we like to function, but we spend a lot of time on math every day!


Review left August 12, 2011
Time: 2.5 years

I used RS for K5, 1st, and the 1st semester of 2nd with my oldest. I switched her to Singapore as the "spine" but continue to use the RS games. I also plan to start my second child in Level A this coming fall for K5.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: Pros: RS B & C provides an excellent foundation in math. My DD took the 3rd grade ITBS shortly after finishing RS C and scored in the 99th percentile for math concepts and 98th percentile for computation. RS is fabulous to explaining the concepts underlying the algorithms. It is also very easy to teach since the lessons are scripted. The hands-on nature and use of games rather than lots of worksheets for practice makes it a great choice for the primary grades.

Cons: RS is a very teacher intensive program. It's not something that the parent can hand to the child & have him/her work through independently. Also, I felt that the levels above B have too much repetition & not enough new material. I feel that it is not as easy to accelerate for a gifted/advanced student as something like Singapore.

Any other helpful hints:
I agree with the previous reviewers who mentioned that it is weak on word problems. Be prepared to supplement with something like Singapore Challenging Word Problems or the Kumon Word Problems series.

Crimson Wife
Review left May 27, 2010
Time: 3 years

My husband and I each have a M.S. in mechanical engineering; it is pretty important to us that our boys have a strong math foundation.

The way the math is taught really impressed my husband and I. We both agreed that we wished someone had taught us this way; I have other friends who are also engineers who likewise agree and are using the program. The program does not emphasize repetition, but rather concepts. Typical Western programs demand route memorization rather than conceptual understanding. Mentally grouping number is encouraged and is built upon to introduce advanced concepts. I like that the boys and I interact a lot during the lessons--rather than me just explaining something and having them go off and do dozens of similiar problems. There is a lot of interaction between us using this program which I really like.

Any other helpful hints:
You can often buy the manipulatives at less expensive prices through teaching stores and the like, rather than going through Right Start Math directly.

Review left February 1, 2010
Level: B onward
Time: 4 years

I decided to start my oldest son in the first grade book, book B, even though he was starting second grade. Since Rightstart teaches in a whole different manner in what I had learned I felt that we should start at the beginning to make sure he, or I, didn't miss anything. However, this is not always necessary because they provide transition lessons that help the student get up to their level more quickly.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I have been very impressed with how well my children are understanding the principles of math. The lessons are interesting and relative to real life. I highly recommend this program.

Any other helpful hints:
The one drawback is that currently the books go through fourth or fifth grade. Dr. Cotter is working on the next book, but it is not available yet.

Review left June 30, 2009
Level: ?
Time: 3 years

When we first began RightStart math, it was quite a learning curve for me as well as my oldest son. The style and rythm was different than what I was accustomed to because it was not textbook or rote memorization. Three years later and teaching my daughter with Right Start, we feel our day is not complete until we do our math lesson. The kids and I have learned so much together and the games make it so relaxing to learn very in-depth concepts such as adding 3-digit numbers mentally. We will continue using Right Start math until my kids graduate out of the program. What a sad day that will be!

I like it because it does not bombard the students with busywork worksheets. The application worksheets are necessary and simple in quantity. The planning is minimal and materials are easily accessible. The games are what reinforce the concepts over time.

Any other helpful hints:
Give yourself and your student time to adjust. Purchase the game book and play the games regularly.

Rachel Dahl
Review left June 15, 2009
Level: 2nd
Time: 6 weeks

We homeschool just one child who is in 2nd grade material. Started with a basic math workbook in 1st grade changing to Rightstart for 2nd.

While I feel that Rightstart teaches a great way to view math (95% understood and 5% memorized) just getting through the transition lessons was difficult for her and when she didn't understand something, it was hard for me to explain because I usually was confused too, since I was taught with a basic American math approach and this is an Asian math approach.

I think the manipulatives are great and not doing much workbook work is great, but you need to make sure that you will be able to understand the curriculum to teach it to a child who has not been taught this Asian math view from the beginning.

Review left April 29, 2009
Time: 3 years

I have a 2nd and 4th grader. I've taught it for 3 yrs. I've taught K-4th grade.

I love it! I wish it went through high school! I'm looking for the next math curriculum for my 4th grader. She took the Saxon placement test, and scored 1 1/2 yrs. ahead of where she is! Right Start has done a wonderful job of introducting/teaching the concepts. The manipulatives andn card games are very helpful! You're not getting pages and pages of redundant problems! Lots of story problems, which is what life is made up of!

I can't recommend this math program enough! Before I started homeschooling, I taught 2nd and 5th grades at 2 different schools. I have had a variety of experiences with math curriculum and this one is phenominal! It is teacher intensive. Though it requires little to no preparation. The teacher's manual tells you exactly what to do and say!

Review left March 23, 2009
Time: 6 months
Level: B

I am a new homeschooling mom of a 5 year old daughter doing 1st grade math. I have an education background in math. I taught high school math for 9 years prior to having children and completed my master's degree in education with a math emphasis after having my first child.

I love this program! I considered several, but finally chose this program because I felt it was rich in developing true mathematical thinking. It emphasizes patterns and reasoning over memorization and algorithms. I have not been disappointed and feel my daughter has been given a wonderful mathematical start.

This program does require interaction between parent and child as others have noted, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My experience is that most kids who learn math on their own by reading and looking at examples learn tricks and algorithms, but don't develop good mathematical understanding and often develop errors in thinking that never get detected.

Brenda Dewey
Review left January 8, 2009
Time: 5 years

Your situation: 5 homeschooled children - mostly boys

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: Right Start is a great program! Concepts are explained in easy chunks and are repeated until full understanding is reached. You not only learn the concept, but why and how the concept works. Using 5 as the building block for all of the math concepts is pure genius! During my use of this program, I have found my math skills have sharpened. My boys enjoy the kinesthetic approach and the games. My boys do RS math games for fun in their free time!
Three things to consider.

First, this program takes a lot of Mom time. There is not a lot of preplanning needed but you will need to sit with your child and go through the lessons. This is true for our family until Book D is complete. That being said, it is worth it! You will not need to spend hours reteaching concepts later or spend hours helping with worksheets.

Second, if you are starting a Kor 1st grader with this program you need to make a commitment to it for at least two years. The way that numbers are learned and concepts are taught is extraordinary but different. Thus, if you start with RS and give up, then your child is going to be lost in the next math program that you use.

Third, be warned my kids do not score as well on the standardized tests in the 1,2, and 3 grades but then look out! They rocket by their peers. The CAT’s (and I imagine other, similar tests) math sections are not organized the same way that RS is. Thus, my children are confused by what the test is asking. If testing scores are important to you, you could remedy this with a quick lesson on this means this but I chose not too. However once the children are in 4th (and sometimes 3rd grade) they are golden. We have had perfect scores.
Buy it! I hope you love it as much as we do!

Lara Berg
Review left September 22, 2008
Time: 3 years

Your situation: homeschooling a 3rd grader and a first grader

(A Right Start user, not connected with the program in any other way, ie: not a representative or retailer.)

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I love R.S and wish it were included in the main body of this review. It's pricey, but I like that my son loves math and thinks creatively to solve problems. I am investigating other programs only because spending 30 minutes each with 2 kids I now spend 1 hour every day on just math, however... maybe that's what it takes for a successful program.

Any other helpful hints:
The Math Games are crucial for painlessly learning the facts. They can be used seperately to enrich any program. If you use them to teach facts within the Right Start curriculum, use them even more frequently than suggested.

Review left September 8, 2008
Level used: A & B
Time: 5 months

Your situation: I am homeschooling my two sons, who are a year apart. They have very different learning styles. My older son is very bright and my younger son is smart, but needs a very methodical, visual approach. I purchased both the A an B curriculum for my younger son mid-year when I started teaching him kindergarten. I was so impressed, that I stopped my older son's math curriculum that I had been doing and did Level B with him instead. Rightstart is a program that my older son loves - it makes math really fun for him. It is a method that works great for my younger son, who might struggle with other curriculum, especially ones where a lot of workbook pages were involved.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I like the way the lessons are laid out. I don't have to plan them, I simply gather the items to use for the day and consult the lesson plan that is already prepared. I also love the games - they are fun, even for adults.

The only negative that I would say is that the lessons take interactive time. This is positive in that there is a lot of discussion that happens, but it takes a time commitment from the parent. I give each of my kids a generous half hour each day, some days if the lesson is difficult, the time lengthens.

Any other helpful hints:
Be prepared to commit the time to work together with your child. However, this is an ideal learning situation for a kid like my younger one, who has difficulty staying on task with worksheets and written work.

Laura Geissler
Review left August 4, 2008
Level used: Math Card Games Kit & AL Abacus
Time: 1 week

I've homeschooled for 7 years and am still searching for the right math program for us. We're currently doing remedial work using Math U See and Singapore but needed some extra drill and manipulatives for Singapore.

Let me start with the pros: Lots of games described in the book that look like they will be very helpful in filling the gaps in my children's math programs. Great drill games, especialy "Go To The Dump". We've already had fun playing that one and my 10 yr old asked to play longer. She's also quickly grasping the idea of the Abacus.

The DVD looks like a great way to jumpstart using the games. Not every game is on the DVD though. Only 14.

Now for the cons: On their web site the description of the Math Card Games Kit says, "Everything you need to play math games and to enjoy math!" (https://www.activitiesforlearning.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=32)

To me, that meant that if I bought the kit, everything was included to play the games. WRONG! There are 6 card decks but these are NOT all that is needed for the games. As I read through the instruction book I kept being referred back to the appendix with pages that need to be copied onto card stock, laminated, and cut out. In addition to that, there are sandpaper numbers that I'll have to buy sandpaper for, copy the backwards number sheet, cut out, attach to the sandpaper to cut that out and attach red dots to with no explanation as to where these red dots are supposed to come from. To top it off, the wrong pages are given for the copies of the numbers and the number charts. I'm only on page 8! I'm hoping this book is not filled with bad directions like this!

I do have to say that I emailed RSM and they got back to me very quickly. They confirmed the actual page numbers for the sandpaper numbers and number chart, so at least there's someone to contact when you run into their typos and errors. The contact also gave me a couple of 800 numbers to call in case I had any more questions.

I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to send the kit back for a refund or if I'll have the time and energy to assemble the additional manipulatives and activities.

Any other helpful hints:
Do be warned that even though the kit is advertised as being everything you need to play their math games, ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES AND ASSEMBLY ARE REQUIRED.

Review left July 23, 2008
Level used: Right Start Geometric Approach
Time: 10 months

Your situation: Home schooling-three kids.

I liked this program because it actually TAUGHT my child how to figure out math problems rather than just tell them the formula and have the student do set-up problems of the same. Dr. Cotter actually has the child experience the concepts of the formulas so it becomes REAL to them.
I don't like the editing errors in it but they have a customer service that will walk you through the information.

I found it help to do the program with my child, even though it is taught to the child and can be self taught. I still preferred to be right there learning the concepts too!

I have even used the information the the book several times.

Review left March 31, 2008
Level used: ?
Time: 1.25 years

Your situation: We've homeschooled for 11 yrs. We've used Saxon K-76, Mathematical Reasoning, Prof. B, Math-it, and more. The kids lacked understanding and comprehension of the rote processes of math. I chose this over Math U See--the other program I was planning to switch to--after joining both yahoo groups.

We start our children on formal academics at later ages, and RS allows them to move forward at their own pace.

We've used B, C, E, Geometry, and Transitions. We are currently in D. I will use B-E w/ our younger kids as well.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: RS has an abacus that just makes so much sense! There are lots of manipulatives to this program, but they all really make sense. And if your child doesn't get it w/ one, there are others to choose from.

Math facts etc. are practiced through games--not endless timed drills. I've grouped our kids for their math lessons, so they can also play the games w/ each other instead of me!

They are truly understanding the concepts and the why behind the how of math.

There are homeschool moms who use RS that are only a phonecall/email away and very willing to help!

I would only recommend the Geometry for gifted math-lovers. We made it through, but it wasn't really written to the student like we thought. (I had to be very involved, and our kids were early teens.) Too many of the directions weren't clear, and I like math. There were a lot of errors--most of which have been corrected now on their website. The program still isn't done being written. The hands-on drawing concept is neat and a few math-loving kids might enjoy it, but better to go w/ a completed, clearly written/understood program and just buy their geometry panels--those were neat!

Any other helpful hints:
Go for the lower levels--A or B through E. It really freed up my time to group the kids so they could play the games w/ each other. This is a great program for comprehension. RS is very rigorous, so start older or go SLOW!

Their yahoo group and website bulletin board are a great resource for help.

Time: 3 years

Your situation: We began RightStart after trying numerous other math curricula. Math will never be my daughter's favorite subject but I do feel like this was the least painful of all the choices. She enjoyed practicing skills with card games rather than endless drill sheets.

It isn't perfect but now that we are finished with E, I do feel like my daughter has good understanding of concepts.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I liked that the lessons were scripted and required little preparation by me, yet they were not overly scripted (like Saxon is for early grades).

There were some spots where I felt the books bogged down and stayed on one topic too long. And in other places, it moved too quickly before a concept was fully fleshed out.

Any other helpful hints:
RightStart lacks sufficient work with word problems in my opinion. I recommend supplementing here.

Some children may also need more cumulative review of previously learned concepts. This isn't built in to RightStart so plan on adding that in unless your child is a math whiz who retains everything he learns.

Levels used: A & B
Time:6 months

Your situation: I started homeschooling my 3rd grader last January. She could not understand the math concepts because of the rote philosophy she was taught in school. I found Right Start and the "light" went on! I transitioned her and introduced this program to my Kindergartener last year as well. I am so thankful my youngest got this from the start. I had to retrain my oldest and myself. I am even understanding concepts in a new light!

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: I like the research and explanation behind the program. It makes sense, is valid, and I am seeing the ease and enjoyment of math in a whole new way; the "Right" way. The only challenge is time with lessons with 2 children. I am now using the lessons more as a unit approach.

Any other helpful hints:
I have a Masters in Education with a specialty in special ed. This is truly a program that delivers what it says. With so many manipulatives and games to reach every learning style, this is a program for any kind of learner. Math is not just a group of numbers. Understanding concepts truly opens our eyes and understanding to the world around us. That is our goal. To help our children understand the world around us. This is easy and fun for all involved. I will not ever go back to traditional rote, paper math that does not deliver conceptual understanding or mental mastery.

Emily Meyer
Time: 9 weeks

Your situation: I have homeschooled for 20 years. I have used Saxon & Math U See through the high school levels, Bob Jones & A Beka K thru 3rd. When I started my kindergarten student this time I was very impressed with what I read about Right Start. I have not been disappointed. It is very easy to use & I am completely awed at the foundation laid for math concepts from the beginning of the program. It would be especially great for a student that had not mastered writting skills as there is little paper work. My daughter is truely enjoying this curriculum. I know full well how tedious some of the other programs can be. I believe the logic and thinking skills she is learning are essential to mastering mathematics.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: There is almost no preparation for the teacher, except copying some simple manipulative pages. The lessons are broken into very manageable segments that even the youngest K student could handle.

Any other helpful hints:
This curriculum is research based & delivers what it promises. They also are available for answering questions one has about the program.

Mary Casey
Grade levels used: B & C
Time:2.5 years

As a beginning homeschool mom, I had already seen my daughter learn the numbers and basic addition principles before starting kindergarten, but I had a hard time finding a kindergarten math curriculum that did not spend half the time on these basic issues. So, when I found RightStart at a home school convention, I was immediately drawn to its quick review of these basics and its fun way of introducing counting and addition through use of the abacus. My daughter is now finishing the 2nd grade curriculum, and she is already stating multiplication facts with ease. This curriculum has been a home run for us! It incorporates games, speed drills and lots of manipulative opportunities. Most importantly, it continually reviews different ways of solving problems, so it is easy to find what fits your child's learning personality and also gives your child freedom to solve it his or her way. This is program is great!

Kristy Trent
Book: Rightstart Mathematics
Time: 2 years

I bought Rightstart Mathematics after trying SO many other homeschool math programs (you would be amazed at how much money I have wasted!) for my 11 yr old daughter. This is a totally different program from most traditional ones; it uses the abacus and math way of counting, 11 would be ten-one, 20 would be two-ten, etc. It has really helped my daughter and I later purchased level B for my 2nd grader, and he can do the problems quicker than his older sister! How I wish I had found this program when she was younger! It is a little expensive, around $120 for complete program, but well worth it if your kids are burned out on all of the kill and drill math programs. I must warn you, though, you cannot just hand the child the worksheet and let him go at it; the parent must read ahead and explain almost every lesson because they are learning so many new things in different ways. Lots of hands on activities and new ways of looking at math. My daughter actually enjoys math now, and I understand it a lot more too! Thanks, Mrs. Cotter, for creating this program!


Click here to write a review


Go back to homeschool mathematics curricula list