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Life of Fred {Homeschooling}

20100222_1640 blog
Tilly (11) has always been something of a math wiz;despite our "late" start to school (usually around age 8) and our laid-back style. It hasn't hindered her a bit. In fact, she's the farthest ahead in math out of any of children.

We've run into a bit of a roadblock in the last little bit, however. It started when Tilly forgot her password on the computer. This year Adalia, Judah and Tilly have all been doing Teaching Textbooks 7 (Tilly actually started it last year). We gave it a week or so, and she couldn't remember it, so she started working though the lessons in the accompanying workbook. I, being busy as usual, forgot that she was working though the workbook instead of the computer (which grades her work). And so I didn't check it for weeks. And when I did, I found she was struggling with decimals. Since so long had elapsed (and she'd worked through so many lessons) I gave her the choice of redoing the Teaching Textbooks lessons our going through our Life of Fred Decimals book. She chose Fred.

I've been a fan of the Life of Fred books since a blog reader recommended them. My children love to read them. They fight over them at bedtime. They are strewn all around our house (despite us having a designated "Life of Fred shelf"). What my children don't do is work through the problems. And I have no qualms about this. After all, they are using a full math curriculum (Teaching Textbooks) and in the Life of Fred books they are learning when and how to apply the math to real-life situations. And they love it.

Now however, the time has come to use it as a textbook. And I love Fred all more for it. What do I love? Every lesson is presented in story form. Not only does this make it interesting, but it also means there is no need to "introduce story problems" or talk about how you would use this "in the real world". Because in Life of Fred, math is never done just for the sake of "doing math". At the end of each chapter there are 4-7 problems for the child to solve. Not 35. Because really, if the child can solve 5 problems correctly, then can probably do 35 as well.  In the particular book we are working though now, ever five chapters there is a "bridge" with 10 problems. If the child gets 9 right, then can move on. If they get eight or fewer right, then they review the chapter, and try again (the books have five bridges per chapter). 

Tilly and I each read the chapter and I watch Tilly work through the  problems, checking to make sure she understands. And guess what? She's doing great and having no struggles with decimals.

Three cheers for Fred!


  1. Melody Gross

    What a neat series!
    Have you ever dona a post on your late schooling approach? I am just curious as to the reasons and benefits of this approach. My oldest is 4 and I am planning on home schooling. I am struggling with what I should/shouldn’t be doing with him. I don’t want him to fall behind, but I don’t want to rush him either.
    If you’ve done a post on this, could you direct me to it? If not, maybe in you could whip one up in your spare time…LOL!!!

  2. Mary Grace

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this series; I’ve contemplated it before, but thought of it in the same way you typically use it, only to be told that that’s not very beneficial. It’s nice to hear otherwise!

  3. joabair

    There are a lot of studies available on teaching children at an older age especially boys. Boys who start at age 9 are typically in the same level or higher by beginning of 7-8th grade. my mom had books on this when I was a kid and I read everything not glued shut. John Holt is a writer, he writes How children fail, and How children learn or succeed cant remember. I have both in storage and they were old when I bought them. They are not outdated though, these are BOTH a great read for homeschooling and traditional schooling parents. They really helped me to allow my children to learn without me being afraid that they wouldnt.

  4. Grateful for Grace

    I’ve never heard of these. They sound fascinating. On my list now.
    Your family is gorgeous!
    I soooo want to adopt. My husband is not ready. The costs are very daunting for international (we make less than $40,000 a year) and I’m scared to death (just being honest) of trying the foster to adopt system and ‘losing’ a child/ren.
    Thanks for following my blog!
    I look forward to popping in here more!

  5. Grateful for Grace

    Oops! Sorry. You aren’t following my blog. I clicked on a followers’ info and you are another blog she follows. Got confused.
    BUT… now I’ve found you-y’all. Yea!

  6. Renee

    I wondered about that first comment, because I dont follow anyones blog. I have all my regular blogs in my Google Reader. But, Im heading over to check out your site!

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