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We bought the elementary set in pieces as it came out and honestly, I love how they incorporate higher level math alongside the basics. But it's just SO. FAR. OFF. from how I learned math that I'm trying to figure out if it truly does teach up through the higher levels of math fluently. I was a math kid and had good teachers to boot. My son loves these books, but because he's also a math kidI could totally add Singapore on and he'd be totally fine with it. That being said, I don't really want to if it's not going to serve some purpose... kwim?
I don't know anyone that's used LoF exclusively and I'm wondering if that's because prior to this past year, the elementary series didn't exist. So people start with a lower level program and then it becomes what they're accustomed to, kwim? I know one or two that used it alongside another program, but not exclusively.
I do know that a parent on our local homeschool loop has a spouse using LoF for his college level Calculus with great success.
Thoughts?
Heather  Wife
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I thought it was going to be a great fit for my dd. She used LoF Fractions and LoF Decimals. It was wonderful for material that she had already been introduced to. However, for new stuff. . . not so much. She loved the story approach though, and wanted to read the rest of the story even after I stopped trying to make it work. I think she was focusing on Fred's story and sort of glancing through the material relevant to the math. I reintroduced Singapore. I would have used both, but she was a one or the other type person.
Amy
Mom to three very active girls Anna (15), Kayla (12), Maya (9).
For my son, Life of Fred has been perfect reinforcement. He started with Fractions a couple years ago and is now almost finished "PreAlgebra II with Economics".
In his case, it's not enough by itself, nor would it have been if he'd started with the elementary series if it had existed then. His math brain is such that he needs to learn the same topic several times from several different approaches before it 'sticks'. We had years of him yelling "I'VE NEVER LEARNED THIS BEFORE" when doing math assignments, when in fact he most certainly had, sometimes more than once. Life of Fred has been a huge part of finally overcoming his math obstacles. Now with our established multipronged approach, he's doing just fine.
I'm using the elementary series with my daughter, but I have no intention of it being her only math either. I'm a RightStart convert through and through. She's halfway through RightStart level B right now. She loves Fred too now, it's great for getting her to think about math in even more different ways. She is a mathy type, though, and for all I know, Fred might actually be 'enough' for elementary learning.
I would expect, having looked through the elementary series, that it could very well be enough for an OLDER beginner. I have long believed that the traditional curriculum of starting math in tiny bitesize piecemeal gradations from kindergarten on, is a very artificial way of doing it and spread out the material over many, many years unnecessarily. If a young child loves math, of course, there's no reason to DELAY it (my daughter is only 5, so I know of which I speak heh) but it's absolutely not necessary or even beneficial for the 'average' child to start FORMAL math lessons so young. Enough 'math' happens from every day life in the early years, and most math development at this age is developmental (ie, brain growth) rather than learned skills.
Once the brain is 'ready', then math skill acquisition can happen in a matter of days or weeks, rather than months or years.
So the 'ideal' Life of Fred Elementary math student, in my opinion, would be, say, an 810 year old with no formal math background. For that student, it's probably plenty to get them through the basics of elementary math. Elementary math is, after all, "elementary"  really quite simple when you get down to it. When you don't try to force it on a brain not ready to understand the concepts, that is.
For the more advanced levels, I think it depends a lot on the kid. I think MOST kids need more practice and explanations than what Fred offers. But not all. There are certainly kids of a certain kind of 'wiring' for whom Fred could be all they ever need.
I think the same can be true of many math courses, though. If it's not a match to their learning style and brain wiring, it's "not enough". Saxon was "not enough" for my son  in fact it made things worse lol  even though it's a thorough, wellplanned, and IMO very wellconstructed program (that I myself would have LOVED as a child).


My son is 11. I pulled him out of school in 3rd grade and for about a year I struggled with getting him to do any math. I had him tested for IQ, achievement, emotional etc... He ended up having a very high IQ, is a visual spacial learner, but also very low achievement and emotional problems. The ptesters suggested using LOF as a math curriculum. We started with LOF fractions, did decimals, PreAlgebra 1 and 2. We just started beginning algebra. It is the only math program that he will do and often begs me to do math. The work moves fast at times, and I see the value of more repetition. I'm glad the beginning algebra has a home companion. There are a few holes in the curriculum, like ratios and propotions, that I fill in where I see fit. Over all I am happy that he not only "gets" most of the material, but is motivated to learn. One thing I differ from the author though is the use of calculators. I do not let my son use one. He still needs a lot of practice with math facts. He grasps higher level concepts so quickly, that he absolutely rebels against the repetitive practice of learning simpler things.
Coincidentally, his best friend who is also 11 and homeschooled refused to do any math. His mom found LOF. He also started with Fractions and loved it and became a motivated student. However, he was finding the books to be going too quickly for him and the problems getting more complex than he was ready for. His mother was pulling her hair out trying everything. She found great programs for her daughter, but the son insisted on LOF. She ended up getting the elementary series. Within a very short amount of time the boy had mastered the elementary series and was ready to try fractions and decimals again.
I think the series is great for both gifted and remedial students. But it has to be a good fit if it is to be the sole curriculum. LOF is almost the sole math curriculm my son uses (but he does also like to watch Khan academy videos on the internet) and it works for him. For my daughter, we may use it when she gets to Fractions, but will definitely be using another curriculum (such as singapore) along side it.
I am very curious about the OP's question as well, and I feel the exact same way! I *want* it to be our only math book, but I am nervous...can this really be it? Will they learn what they need to know to do higher math? I suspect the answer is 'yes' quite honestly, but I can't quite get over my own math background and let it be. So far we've been doing the elementary series for a few months; both kids are breezing through it and enjoying it in the process. I have them read 23 chapters a week, and do a few pages of their regular math book (Calvert) on the nonFred days.
On second thought, I am having trouble imagining that a child could master their math facts just by using Fred alone, but who knows?
If you notice, we didn't do the elementary series for learning the basic processes and math facts. We started really with the fractions book. I find that learning facts takes a while and requires a lot of practice. I didn't feel LOF provided that. On the other hand, we didn't refrain from learning advanced concepts because the kids didn't have the basics down. It gets so boring and repetetive that we can lose track of WHY we learn math at all. My son still does flashcards even though he is doing Algebra. A teacher friend of mine who also homeschooled her child for some time gave me the wise advice "you know, learning math facts takes years for some people, but that doesn't mean you can't move forward". I, myself, never really learned all my math facts, but I was skipped math levels in elementary and high school. I'm not sure this is an endorsement for LOF elementary series, or not, but it is my limited experience.
We just started beginning algebra. It is the only math program that he will do and often begs me to do math. The work moves fast at times, and I see the value of more repetition. I'm glad the beginning algebra has a home companion. There are a few holes in the curriculum, like ratios and propotions, that I fill in where I see fit.
When I read this, I wondered if maybe these are concepts were covered during a book later than the one you're in and the curriculum notes that it covers ratios and proportions in Algebra 2/Advanced Algebra (the next book after the one you're currently in).
It really DOES present things very differently. At the "Farming" book (elementary) my son has already been doing set notation for a few books and the concept of functions since at least the last book. He's doing unions of sets as well as percentages in this one. If you were to tell a math teacher that a child who is not yet doing multiplication (in the curriculum) was doing this, I'm not sure they'd see the logic. But it all blends together so seamlessly the way it's presented.
I have to wonder if I'll find an answer to this. I think that most people find a curriculum, get comfortable and then don't trust something newespecially something so farfetched from what we are accustomed to. Since LOF never had an elementary series until this school year, the kids using it had some other kind of math instruction first (since there were prerequisite math skills to using LOF's previous first book). And case in point, I don't see anyone in this thread that felt it COULD be an the complete answer for them.
Heather  Wife
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, Mommy
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I have to wonder if I'll find an answer to this. I think that most people find a curriculum, get comfortable and then don't trust something newespecially something so farfetched from what we are accustomed to. Since LOF never had an elementary series until this school year, the kids using it had some other kind of math instruction first (since there were prerequisite math skills to using LOF's previous first book). And case in point, I don't see anyone in this thread that felt it COULD be an the complete answer for them.
I think this is the big thing right there  the elementary series is too new yet to have a real answer. Nobody yet has gone through the whole series and thus be able to report the results. Most people who are trying LOF elementary are doing so in conjunction with their regular curriculum  just in case. There are surely some who are using JUST LoF but I don't think there are thousands, or even hundreds doing so. It's just too new. Eventually, there will be, and we'll have better reports.
In our case, like I said I'm a total RightStart convert. I love the LoF approach, but I like the RightStart approach even better, in terms of getting kids to think in a mathematical way. I love ho Fred blends in lots of things outside of math, though, and like others have said, incorporates more 'advanced' concepts from the start. An ideal math curriculum IMO would be something that presents concepts in the RS method, but in the greater concept of a LoF story. ;) The two together will make a solid math program for my daughter, I'm sure.
And hey, when you get down to it... in how many other subject areas do we expect ONE single book to completely cover EVERYTHING? A history course will use multiple books. A science course too. Even if you have a big 'textbook' as a spine, most of us still recognize that we're even better off when we branch out and use multiple resources, to get more information on a particular topic (either one of special interest, or of special difficulty) or to approach things from different angles. So why not the same for math? Why assume that one single math series ever SHOULD be enough? Is it really a 'failure' of that series if a kid needs/wants supplementary math materials along with it? Or is that just how math should best be approached anyway?
Even if you have a big 'textbook' as a spine, most of us still recognize that we're even better off when we branch out and use multiple resources, to get more information on a particular topic (either one of special interest, or of special difficulty) or to approach things from different angles. So why not the same for math? Why assume that one single math series ever SHOULD be enough? Is it really a 'failure' of that series if a kid needs/wants supplementary math materials along with it? Or is that just how math should best be approached anyway?
I think this is very insightful. I think that when you parcel "math" out as a discrete subject that resides in toto in one complete curriculum, you're suggesting that math isn't interrelated with the rest of reality. You're also suggesting that learners are homogeneous enough in their needs and interests that a single resource can predict your particular child's needs for years to come. While those are tidy, satisfying assumptions, life isn't that simple. And as you say, it's not a failure of a curriculum if supplementation and remediation are required. It's simply a result of the nature of learning and the reality of individual children.
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups
These books look absolutely WONDERFUL! My kids are still little, but in a couple of years I could give you a report on how it works to use this as our core... ;)
Tjej
I think this is very insightful. I think that when you parcel "math" out as a discrete subject that resides in toto in one complete curriculum, you're suggesting that math isn't interrelated with the rest of reality. You're also suggesting that learners are homogeneous enough in their needs and interests that a single resource can predict your particular child's needs for years to come. While those are tidy, satisfying assumptions, life isn't that simple. And as you say, it's not a failure of a curriculum if supplementation and remediation are required. It's simply a result of the nature of learning and the reality of individual children.
Miranda
Well, I don't see anyone here who is NOT parceling out math as a discrete subject. Whether you use one curriculum or multiple, everyone here appears to be treating it as it's own subject. Frankly, outside of unschooling, LoF is the only way I've seen children able to learn math where it is presented in a way that makes it clearly connected to countless other life circumstances.
If by "resources" you mean curriculums, I'm not sure I agree with you. I don't see the need for multiple curriculums. Most of the people I know that use curriculum find one that works and stick with it for as long as it works for their child more than considering that something that works for their child may not be the best for being complete. I'm curious about the latter, since I already know this is feeding my son's interests and learning style. I don't see the need to buy multiple curriculums simply for the sake of having multiple curriculums. We can get additional exposure without books (and we do). If you count experiences as resources, then I agree with youno single resource is going to fit the bill. But our life is rich with noncurricular math experiences. Perhaps I should've put that caveat out there because it looks like this conversation is headed towards explaining to me that I need to expose my children to math outside of the curriculum.
For the record, we do far more noncurricular "mathish" activities than curricular ones. AND I make the most of pointing out how things are interrelated across subjects (and they pretty much almost always are) when we talk about things. It was a pet peeve of mine when I taught that this was never done because of the profound benefit of building fluency in content when you saw it in multiple ways of applicability itso I am sure to tend to it at home. ;)
Heather  Wife
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, Mommy
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I suppose it's a question of semantics as much as anything. My kids' math learning (we are unschoolers, for the record) springs as often from experiences in the real world as it does from a math curriculum. We have used curriculum in the when the kids wanted to ensure mastery of arithmetical tools, but by and large I made an effort to guide them through mathematical discoveries and concepts through art, gardening, music, literature, history and science. But we have never assumed that all math goes in this category over here. My kids are very aware that math learning permeates their life and educations across all areas. What I meant was that math learning comes in numerous forms, often deeply embedded in other learning, and that perhaps it's unrealistic (and unnecessary) to expect that a curriculum can or should provide a complete resource for all mathematical learning.
To draw a parallel: my kids practice scales on their violins as a particular type of exercise in order to learn some of the skills they need to be capable musicians. But they would never equate "scales" with "music." The work they do on scales is in service of the much broader pursuit of musical abilities, something they learn through listening, performing, improvising, singing, learning new repertoire, playing in ensembles with others, hearing each other play, supporting their friends, reviewing recordings etc.. Our lives are so full of music that we really just think of it as part of who we are ... and certainly it's not a "subject" in our lives. Math is kind of the same way. The curricula we make use of serve the same role of the scales. But math in the broader sense is just part of our lives, and that's where most of the learning comes from.
No, I don't mean curricula necessarily. I mean resources in the broadest sense, from knitting and weaving patterns to novels and DVD documentaries to tesselation software to "enrichment programs" full of logic and mathrelated brainteasers to music theory resources and history books.
But since you raise the issue of curricula... I know very few people who have used a single curriculum program from K12 without feeling any need to supplement, remediate, circle back, supplement for variety, or whathaveyou. I know it's possible, but most people seem to find that mixing it up adds depth and accommodates to their children's needs and preferences more thoroughly. I do know a few people who have stuck with the same thing throughout, but on the whole I've not been terribly impressed with the curricula that stretch uninterrupted from K12.
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups
Quote:
I read it as though she was talking about two different things. 1) math can be interrelated with other things and 2) multiple approaches to math. #2 is what I was referring to and I think she was just bringing in an additional thought that was related to it for her.
If by "resources" you mean curriculums, I'm not sure I agree with you. I don't see the need for multiple curriculums. Most of the people I know that use curriculum find one that works and stick with it for as long as it works for their child more than considering that something that works for their child may not be the best for being complete. I'm curious about the latter, since I already know this is feeding my son's interests and learning style. I don't see the need to buy multiple curriculums simply for the sake of having multiple curriculums. We can get additional exposure without books (and we do). If you count experiences as resources, then I agree with youno single resource is going to fit the bill. But our life is rich with noncurricular math experiences. Perhaps I should've put that caveat out there because it looks like this conversation is headed towards explaining to me that I need to expose my children to math outside of the curriculum.
Let's see if I can clarify a bit more what I was trying to say... Most people start with a base assumption that they should use one curriculum for math, and that one curriculum will entail a textbook and some practice exercises. There might be a video instructor or computer interactivity. But it's one textbook and practice problems at the core of it.
In just about any other subject area, though, even the "one curriculum" will not just be one textbook and practice problems. A history course will have videos, a variety of historical fiction to choose from, a myriad of projects/activities/essays of different types to suit different learning styles. Within the one curriculum, there is a lot of flexibility, and a lot of different resources being pulled together.
So I don't mean necessarily "multiple curricula are necessary". I mean that most other subjects have multiple resources and approaches worked into each independent curriculum, but math is more "just this". So a particular student who does best with a variety of approaches will be wellserved by one single history curriculum, but if they need a variety of approaches for math then they are more likely to require a variety of curricula  just because that's how they're designed.
I'm speaking in generalities, of course. There are openended and flexible math programs (Math on the Level comes to mind) and very rigid onetextbookandanswersheet programs in other subject areas. But in GENERAL I think they're more commonly found the way I describe it. My point was that when looking at curricula for different subjects, math is usually treated differently than other topics.
Yes, this is true. It's not having multiple curricula just for the sake of having multiple curricula. It's to address specific learning needs of specific students. Another issue with math, I think, is that it is SO sequential and linear. You have to learn this before you learn that. But other subjects are more cloudlike. You don't have to do physics before biology, you don't have to do the renaissance before WWII. There is some leeway in math scope and sequence, but most math curricula follow pretty much the same party line in a different package. If a child does a physics program in grade 3 and doesn't fully "get" friction, there's not usually any worry about how they aren't ready to go on to grade 4 science, or you have to 'circle back' and supplement with more resources on friction, or do a whole other curriculum to make sure he gets it. More often, you just say "oh well, this is covered again in grade 8 anyway, I'm sure he'll get it then."
There isn't the same sense of freedom with math  again, in general. If you haven't mastered your times tables, you can't go on to algebra yet. Etc etc. I'm not saying this is necessarily true! Just that it's the common perception, and how it is most often treated by curricula and parents alike.
Not sure where exactly I'm going with this line of thought lol... I'm more just thinking out loud at this point!
Okay, then I think we are all saying the same thing and it's
This past fall, he just popped up with an interest to go to high school at a math and science academy. I thought it would deteriorate, but notsomuch. He has a friend his age (8) who has a teen brother that goes. He's never met the brother, but just the idea that there's a place where a bunch of people that like math and science learn about math and science all day has him very much "for" it. He would do whatever I could tell him is necessary to do to get in. I just really hate traditional learning, so if I could just let him go on with this and know it would do the same thingI'd rather.
I think I'll just let him continue with LoF for 2 years (or however long it works for him) and then reevaluate his interests and what we're doing (and if applicable, where he places academically). I'm not really worried if he's "behind" at that point because being a math kid, we'll just learn it from something else if he's missing it and needs it to get into the school (if he's still interested). I guess I was more trying to minimize that... and POSSIBLY minimize the "Why didn't we do this earlier?!?" backlash (he's kinda one of those kids and I hope he outgrows that :/ ) And even without the current interest, he appears to be headed math/science so it's going to be relevant at some point.
Thanks all.
Heather  Wife
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