I'm really lucky that I had a friend who had Right Start Mathematics. I didn't know many more options than Saxon Math, Math U See and Singapore. I watched a few videos on Math U See and realized that wasn't for us. While it is a really wonderful program, I wanted to be my child's teacher, and I didn't feel like doing worksheets was something that we needed to be doing. I had also heard a lot of really great things about Saxon math, but I didn't feel like their program was the best for
our home either. And while it's funny reasoning, I wasn't really okay with supporting Singapore Math because they had a "California Standard" version of their products that conforms with CA law that requires their curriculum to be a little more neutral... i.e. word problems can't involve a husband and wife/"traditional" family.
When I saw Right Start Math I knew it was PERFECT for us. They had me at "abacus," but themore I learned the more I loved how the program was introduced and reinforced. There were lots of games and connections being made. I think we learn math in a more complete way that helps the children enjoy what they're doing and beg for math time. The lessons are straight forward and the teacher's manual gives a simple list of everything that is needed for the lesson. Did I mention the abacus? So, not only do I get to teach their lessons myself, but we're applying math to life ("look around the room and tell me what we have 2 of?") and we're taking advantage of an age old way of calculating numbers and visually interpreting information (8 is 5&3). I like how they discourage counting... although this is a very hard habit to break... and embrace the idea that 5 and 3 is equal to, or the same as, 8. It's not just some abstract fact. So, if you haven't heard of Right Start Math, it's worth giving some time to research if you're looking for something different. Their customer service is also incredible. I bought 3 abacus' when I ordered my kit and one wasn't in the box when I received my shipment. They were easy to get ahold of, and quickly sent out the missing piece with their apologies.
Happy Phonics: I really enjoy being able to just have fun with my children. Before mentioned OCD issues makes it difficult for me to just sit and let loose, so Happy Phonics is a great way to learn with my children and play games that make phonics real to them. I found a copy of this program on Amazon about 2 or 3 years ago from a mom that previously used it with one of her children and found it to not be the mostaffective for a subsequent child. The result of that was being able to have everything cut out for me, all I did was laminate it and cut out and we were ready to go! I was also fortunate enough to watch and learn from the mom that suggested this program and really get some great ideas of how to make phonics come alive for my children. It had a whole lot less to do with the actual information and way more to do with my reactions. Amazing what a few "Wow, that was great! Good job!" can really mean the world to a small child. The program recommends using it in conjunction with Explode the Code. We haven't done this, but I know it's worked for a lot of people.
Now, I'm Reading: I LOVE this series!!! Everyone that comes in contact with these books loves this series. I actually recently got a call from a mom that I had talked to last year who wanted me to remind her the name of it because she remembered liking them SO much and now that her son is ready to read she couldn't get it out of her head and couldn't find anything close to it anywhere else. These books reinforce words throughout the book (The Cat, The tan cat, The tan cat ran) etc. They don't throw out words randomly without prepping the child for them, which reduces frustration. The books run through a series and there's a guide in the back of the book to tell you what is being introduced, and even has questions to help the child focus on comprehension. The illustrations are great and my children love the stories. Despite bookshelves packed with books, my children gravitate to these several times a day and there are A TON of options in these books. Things start with Playful Pals and move up through more Advanced books and even have "Independent Readers" that let the children explore Science and Math in a way that is not overwhelming because they've learned the skills to decode the words.
All About Spelling: I was introduced to this program a few years ago, but didn't take the leap to actually buy it until a few months ago. I borrowed All About Spelling from a friend and really enjoyed the multi-sensory aspect of things (again, I have a daughter who would surely be on Ritalin if in a publicschool setting). This program breaks down words and reinforces phonics. We even ended up buying a large whiteboard and mounting it on our kitchen wall specifically for this program. My children are all smiles when they work with all about spelling. They use magnetic tiles to build words, practice writing words on paper, and learning how to hear the different components of the words. It's amazing when even your 2 year old is picking up phonogram sounds... I love osmosis!