RightStart is, indeed, an Asian mental abacus program--but it's actually more. I can say, hands down, that RightStart is superior in every way to Singapore in the first grade level. And that's saying a LOT because Singapore is amazing!
Want to get the worst kid in the class adding two-digit numbers with regrouping in first grade? And adding four-digit numbers on paper with PERFECT understanding? RightStart does it. RightStart takes the very best of Asian mathematics programs and distills it down into it essence. It uses a very few select manipulatives extremely well--as conceptual connectors, not crutches--which echoes the author's original background in Montessori education.
AND it's scripted, so it helps teach the educator even as it teaches the student, even it the educator isn't a naturally mathy person.
If you want your child to score in the 90th percentile, I will guarantee that RightStart can do it with any kid of AVERAGE intelligence. The most that it requires from the instructor is to pay attention to any stumbling place and to further break down and clarify any points of confusion that might arise rather than doing sheer repetition--solve the problem rather than waiting for it to resolve itself by using the approach that YOU'VE learnt from RightStart and apply it to the lesson at hand to chop it into smaller bits.
My son had intuitive mathematical power, but with his language processing problems, communicating anything he couldn't instantly intuit was very, very hard--until I found RightStart. It was amazing. We did the entire series because he needed to make stronger connections between language and concept, and I've never been so impressed with a math program. Ever.
Now, Singapore does have one powerful tool that RS lacks--it has the model method of problem solving, and the word problems are more sophisticated and also much more frequent. RS also weirdly peters out before really giving much work on multiplying and dividing fractions using the standard algorithm, having covered it EXCELLENTLY conceptually but not having practiced it as it does other things.
Anyhow, my very mathy kid is using the sequence RightStart/Singapore Primary to NEM 1-3/Additional Mathematics/IMACS Elements of Mathematics. His personality is such that getting him to do any practice not on the Flashmaster is WWIII, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (which has already added some 6 months to his journey, though daily battles and sheer cussedness...)
My next door neighbor is very, very UN-mathy (failed algebra II), and her kid would be thrilled to step through algorithms without understanding a thing, if he can. After Calvert failed him (letting him get away with zero comprehension), she's now doing RightStart with great results. His sequence will likely be Right Start to Life of Fred/VideoText to either community college or ChalkDust or EPGY for calc.
In short, it works great for very different kids.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010