FAQs

Where do we ship?

We can ship worldwide! We have shipped to Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore, Finland, and everywhere in the US, including APO addresses. We use the U.S. Postal Service or UPS.

What does it cost to ship internationally?

Rates for shipping outside of the United States are:

Minimum $30.00

$90.00 - $224.99 35% of your subtotal

$225.00 and over 25% of your subtotal

What is the return policy?

Activities for Learning, Inc. will refund your purchase, excluding shipping expense, when you return the item(s) within sixty days from the date of receipt. Items returned must be in same condition as when purchased. Removing wrapping from the items is acceptable.

How does RightStart Mathematics differ from other mathematics programs?

RightStart uses visualization and language, rather than counting as the starting point of mathematics. The child is taught to visualize quantities grouped in 5s and 10s. Place value is further emphasized through the "math way" of number naming; for example, 12 is called "ten 2" (or "1-ten 2") and 23 is "2-ten 3" and through work with four-digit numbers, beginning in first grade.

Understanding is stressed throughout. The primary manipulative is the AL abacus. Necessary repetition is provided through math card games.

The RightStart program is complete in itself. It is not a supplement nor does it need other supplements. Math card games are interwoven into the RightStart lesson plans. The games are useful as a supplement for other math programs. RightStart also includes the other branches of mathematics state standards require from kindergarten on, such as geometry, algebra, probability, and statistics.

Does this program take a mastery or spiral approach?

RightStart Mathematics is a unique program that has aspects of both spiral and mastery approach. First we need to define our terms. Spiral learning is based on behaviorism, which says we are programmable machines and we need endless repetitions to master something. Spiral curriculums cover the same material year after year in ever widening circles, with the anticipation that increased exposures will eventually lead to mastery of the basics. The number of topics covered is broad, but they never go deep. It is more of an exposure philosophy.

Mastery approach curriculum builds sequentially. This philosophy states that there is no need to move to the next step until the preceding one is mastered. Therefore, lessons may take many days or even weeks if necessary for students to master the facts. Fewer topics are covered. Pre-testing and post-testing are done to assure mastery. Both approaches have some validity as well as some drawbacks.

The way the brain works is that it attaches new information to something already known. The more ways information is attached in the brain, the better it is learned. Children need more than one exposure and one way to learn a topic, but repeated exposures to the same material are not enough for mastery.

Thomas E. Clark, author of VideoText Algebra, defines the goal of arithmetic as finding an answer, but the goal of mathematics as solving a problem. We need to teach students to be problem solvers. Therefore, RightStart Mathematics introduces a large number of topics, but they are built sequentially for greater understanding. Students need to be challenged by many topics in order to see the interconnectedness in mathematics. For example, one of the goals of mathematics instruction is that students be fluid in their basic facts. So, students learn strategies for mastering the facts. They master them by playing games, which gives them a reason for learning the facts.

In RightStart students learn techniques for thinking mathematically. Dr. Cotter has systematically introduced principles of mathematics that lead students to self-discovery through her well-designed lessons.

To answer your question specifically, RightStart Mathematics meets the standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as well as exceeds almost every state standard, so your child should do very well on any standardized testing. This is also what other homeschooling parents are telling us.

Does RightStart Mathematics use colored rods?

Researchers have found a number of problems with colored rods, where numbers 1-10 are represented by increasing lengths each in a different color. For young children each rod is a "one"; they do not understand why a rod twice as long is called a "two." Another problem is that 1 out of 12 children has some color deficiency and cannot see ten different colors.

A more serious limitation of rods 6-10 is that they cannot be visualized, or seen in the mind, because they are not grouped in fives. Try to imagine 8 apples in a row without any grouping--virtually impossible. Now imagine 5 apples as red and 3 as green--this you probably can do. The Romans grouped in fives (8 as VIII), and composers used two groups of five lines for writing music.

The purpose of a manipulative is not only to see the concept, but to help the learner construct a mental model, for example, to learn the facts. Visual models are quicker to recall than reciting a rhyme. Note also that adding two rods does not immediately give the sum.

Any concept that can be taught with colored rods can be taught with the AL abacus without the bother of little pieces.

What are the Lessons and the Worksheets?

The coil-bound Lessons are math lesson plans to guide the teacher through the day's topic. The objectives, materials needed, warm-up (usually a review), detailed instructions for the activities, and answers to the worksheet, if any, are provided. The coil-bound Worksheets are the child's pages for working on the mathematical tasks. They include few directions, especially for the young child. (Blackline masters for the worksheets are included in the classroom Lessons.)

How is the AL Abacus different from a traditional abacus?

There are various abacuses. Many people are familiar with the Japanese and Chinese abacuses, which have beads both above and below a bar. They are actually manual calculators, not designed to teach number concepts. In Japan and China, children started learning the abacus around age 8. Since the mid-1990s, abacus instruction is no longer part of the Japanese or Chinese mathematics curriculum.

The AL abacus, grouped in 5s and 10s, is designed to teach adding, subtracting, multiplying, money, and other concepts. The reverse side emphasizes trading: that 10 ones is 1 ten, 10 tens is 100, and 10 hundreds is 1000. As with all good manipulatives, children use it less and less as they construct their mental models.

The Slavonic Abacus, used in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, is the same as the front side of the AL Abacus, but it does not have a reverse side.

Why are the beads on the AL abacus moved from right to left?

The abacus is cleared with the beads on the right. To determine how many beads to move, the eye must scan the row in the usual left to right direction as in reading. Furthermore, the addends in an equation, such as 4 + 3 = _, will appear in the same order.

What are Transition Lessons?

Transition Lessons were written for the class or the child who will be starting RightStart Mathematics in grades 2-4, or Levels C-E, who has not previously studied RightStart Mathematics or used the AL Abacus. These lessons are done before the regular lessons and include abacus basics and other topics. The worksheets are in the manual.

Should I use RightStart or the Original Program?

Which program to use depends upon your style of teaching and your mathematics background. If you want a lesson plan, as well as be told how to proceed, use RightStart. If you are confident in combining the Activities for the AL Abacus manual, games, geometry, and adding more problems and measurement, you can use the Original Program.

Generally, schools should use RightStart, with the exception of some special populations.

As a home educator, should I start my child with Level A (Kindergarten) or Level B (Grade 1)?

Either Level A or B can serve as the entry point into RightStart Mathematics. More advanced children are able to skip Level A and begin in Level B. Most topics are covered in both manuals, although more in depth in Level B.

What manipulatives do I need for each Level?

All the manipulatives needed for Levels A to E are available as Kits that also include the manuals and worksheets. To purchase manipulatives for a particular Level, go to the program requirement chart for Home Educators or Classroom.

What program should I use after Level E (Grade 4)?

After RightStart Level E is RightStart Mathematics; A Hands-On Geometric Approach. The E to G Add On Kit will add onto your current materials. Or, The Starter Kit Geometric Approach is $5.00 more than the Add On Kit and you will get a second drawing board set (which is a great deal if you have younger ones still in C, D, or E).

We recommend implementing VideoText Interactive Algebra Module A about half way through the Geometric Approach, doing about a lesson a week. You may purchase this individually or include in the Deluxe Starter Kit G and save a bit.

We bought your program at the New Jersey ENOCH convention in May 2010. I knew it was the right program for us when my son wouldn't stop playing with all the manipulatives. The saleswoman was wonderful (I can'…
– Dawn Farris, Elmer, NJ

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