this looks really cool, but from what I've read, it takes about a month to complete one book. (I'm looking at the elementary set) yet the books span like 4 grade levels, so once you've completed one or two (and it's only been a few months) what do you do the rest of the year if they are not ready for the next book? not to mention the expense--at $16 a book, this seems pretty expensive to me, not inexpensive as the website suggests. am I missing something?
We use Life of Fred, and like it.
However, it doesn't seem to work as a stand-alone curriculum. We easily go through one book in a month. In fact, we're on the fourth book already and we started in October (Life of Fred: Dogs).
Its good because it introduces concepts in an engaging way. Children are exposed to things like algebra, infinity, ordinal and nominal numbers, null value, formulas, etc very early, which I think will make it easier for DD when she's ready to delve into those concepts more fully in a few years. They won't seem scary then because she'll have grown up with them.
I usually read a chapter before bed. DD does the "your turn to play" at the end verbally. Once we finish a couple books, we go back and start them again, so they get read several times.
But for her main math curriculum we are using Singapore. Life of Fred just doesn't give you much rote practice with stuff. Its more about exposure to math ideas and theory, I think.
Its definitely worth getting if you can afford it.
We just got the Intermediate Life of Fred books. I am really pleased so far. We do have other practice books to work through topics for repetition and general practice (I have been using Sylvan books for practice). I think while they will go fairly quickly, they will be reread. They are hard covered books, so should also hold up well.
There are between 16-20 chapters a book (in the ones we've read so far anyways). So, if you did a chapter each school day that would be about a month. Good luck having a kid only want to do one chapter!
These books are about giving a kid a fun perspective on math, and seeing it in life. It's about thinking like a math person, really. I don't know if they are very complete, but they are more than complete enough for the age and level my kids are at (K and 1st). In the first book, what seemed like random mentions, were actually a systematic building of understanding. I find them brilliant.
There are ample example pages on the publisher's website. I suggest you take a look at them and see if it seems like a good fit for you and your kids. If you buy them, the books do have good resale value, so it is cheap to try one.
We are using it standalone at the moment. It's really no different than any other math curriculum: it really depends on what your child needs and responds to. Because LoF is story-based, it covers more information than just math by virtue of incorporating it into the stories. For some kids, this is too distracting. Likewise, if you have a child that really needs to do a page of practice every day, then yeah--this is not for you (at least not without some additional resources). There IS practice, but it's like 5-6 problems/chapter rather than 30-40 problems/day.
Be aware, however, that under the 5th grade level was only published as of Sept. 2011. So there is not yet a generation of kids that has had OPPORTUNITY to use it standalone to see the results. Before last year, families had to start off with another curriculum. By the time they got to where LoF picked up, they were already accustomed to a different way of learning math. And let's be honest: LoF is NOTHING like how any of us learned math--which is uncomfortable and scary for most people because they can't always feel confident that there is "enough" math learning going on. The public schools use a curriculum called "Everyday Math" that has parents SCREAMING because it's too far off from what they know as math education for them to feel like it's comprehensive enough.
There are 8 books in the elementary series, 3 books in the Intermediate series, and then you get to "Fractions" which is presumably the beginning of 5th grade math. The publisher encourages re-reading the books including letting them read through the "Your Turn to Play" with the answers (the answers are really well written and we often read them rather than just check if they're correct). I also happen to appreciate the indices in the back in case *I* need to re-read a concept or I need to send him back to a concept (which I think happened once when we took a 3mo break from doing anything). On the rare occasion that the curriculum itself hasn't touched a concept in a while and gives them a "test" question on it, they will tell you exactly where to find the lesson if you need to relearn it. That happened once.
I'm not sure if the kids moving through it fast is an indication of the lack of knowledge being absorbed or rather that the kids absorb it more quickly and easily... kwim? I WILL say that there is no question that they have to understand when to use specific operations and how to apply the math concepts to real life. Inasmuch as I was brilliant in math CLASSES, I had to REALLY struggle to figure out which operation to use sometimes when it came to real life (or word problems).
For my own child, he is a math-head but mildly dyscalculic. So while he acquires concepts quickly and fluently, he stumbles with stupid things (and I did the exact same thing when I was young--counting on my fingers actually screwed me up rather than help me!). We are having great success with some interventions. I got nervous about this with math facts (he can't retain them well) and moved him over to a drill system called xtramath.org to learn the facts for fast recall. At the time, this was a critical issue for me. For whatever reason, when timed on a computer screen--he nailed them (and this is a kid that absolutely CAN. NOT. handle a timer in any way shape or form--so that was shocking). None of us can figure out how he manages in that situation but not in any other--but it is what it is. He's doing great with LoF and I intermittently placement test him into Singapore just to double check. I'm finding that he places at or above grade level with Singapore (Stds. version) but Singapore is not testing him on all that he's already learned (set notation, Sigma, etc.)
I looked at the closest math/science academy/high school's entry requirements and figured out that I don't have to be very strict/meticulous with what he's doing until Sept. 2015--when I will want to start moving him to something that looks more "schooly" if he has the desire to go down that path. My plan is to let him do LoF (and a calc curriculum designed for young people because that's what he wants to do) until then, and then placement test him into Singapore or the like and see where he lands. At that point, he'll be 11yo and if LoF was a complete failure to him, then he has plenty of years to figure it out. But to be honest, he already has all the math he'll ever need in life and he's not even to the fifth grade level yet (the "Fractions" book). How much further he goes will really be based on what he's driven to achieve and how much math that requires... kwim? But for now, he has enough math to balance a checkbook (and thanks to LoF, he knows the necessary things that need to be on the front of a check and can spot errors on it ). He can pay for things and can make change (including knowing how to give a dollar amount in various combinations of bills). Today he told me that 15mins was 1/4 of an hour and he's a fluent time-teller on a non-digital clock. I'm good with that.
Not sure if this helps.
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We are using it (almost done with Apples) but we are using it just for fun for a very mathy kid (we use Singapore as our spine and have been using some RightStart methods and games to supplement too). DS usually wants to do 3-4 chapters in the evening with DH. I like that it gives him a different way to look at math.
Mama to DS (6/07) , DD (6/09) , and DD (07/12) ..