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Life of Fred

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#1 ChrisB

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 10:20 PM

So I asked a friend, who has been HSing for years, if she has ever heard of LOF and what she thought about it. In her previous life ;) she was a high school math teacher. She has seen many math texts and she is extremely supportive of Saxon. She has never used LOF. The only people that she's heard give positive reviews about LOF are not "mathy" people. My children are not old enough for LOF, but I have my ears open all the time for good math programs to continue after we finish RightStart math. Also, both DH and I are very math minded. So what do you think? Anyone out there who is math minded, uses LOF, and loves it?

#2 hmschooling

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 10:22 PM

Somewhere on this board is a post from 2 very mathy parents that are highly supportive of LoF and believe it actually covers more topics than many traditional programs. I believe both of them had higher degrees in math-related fields.

#3 fivetails

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 10:26 PM

We just started with it here (dd12 is using LOF Fractions)

So far, she likes it ~ as do I. Of course, it's only been a week & a bit LOL ...but it's fun ~ she really likes the stories about Fred, and the fact that it doesn't have a bazillion questions. I like that as well - never saw the purpose in that...if you know how to do something, you can demonstrate it quickly...you don't need to solve problem after problem after problem until your eyes glaze over. ;)

I really can't say more than that at this point, as we're brand new to the program - but we're liking it right now, so I figured I'd speak to that much anyway. :)

#4 Sugarfoot

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:07 AM

It's not our main program, but around here, it's considered "fun." It doesn't take long to get through a lesson. I've never heard a complaint from my DC about LOF, and that's saying something!

My dyslexic son actually looks forward to doing his LOF lesson. I was really surprised that he liked it so much right away. I even found a drawing of Fred on the schoolroom door.:)

As a supplement, we love it. I feel like it gives them a chance to see math presented in a different way.

#5 Storm Bay

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 10:29 AM

We've done Saxon and LoF, among other programs. IMO, LoF is far better than Saxon in many ways. So far the only weakness I've seen in LoF is that in the Geometry he lets students write Algebra for a reason in a 2 column proof instead of naming which Algebra Postulate. Some may argue that that's not a weakness, but I'm rather draconian when it comes to logic in high school. But I also have my dc do 2 math programs most of the time, either simultaneously or one after the other. Dd did Algebra 1 twice with different programs, and I plan to do the same with my younger two. But not with Saxon Algebra. She's currently doing 2 Geometry programs, with LoF being the main one. Once she does a chapter in LoF, I have her read and do some proofs in an older Geometry text from the early 1970s. However, LoF is a complete program, I'm just a mean math mom (well, so my dc think at times.)

#6 Shelly in the Country

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 10:57 AM

We use LoF as a supplement to Singapore. My dd finds it funny and she understands his explanations. I thought it reinforced what she was learning in Primary Math very well. I haven't seen the upper levels of the program but for this stage I wouldn't use it alone. There were very few word problems and the ones that were there were terribly simplistic compared to Singapore. As for Saxon...my "mathy" dh dislikes Saxon. I am fairly "mathy" myself, though not as much as dh. I have no personal experience with Saxon. I've never looked at it because dh wouldn't let me :lol:. My plan is to continue with Singapore up through NEM, adding in Fred for fun as long as dd continues to enjoy it. More math practice = good. :001_smile:

#7 Storm Bay

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:20 AM

We use LoF as a supplement to Singapore. My dd finds it funny and she understands his explanations. I thought it reinforced what she was learning in Primary Math very well. I haven't seen the upper levels of the program but for this stage I wouldn't use it alone. There were very few word problems and the ones that were there were terribly simplistic compared to Singapore. As for Saxon...my "mathy" dh dislikes Saxon. I am fairly "mathy" myself, though not as much as dh. I have no personal experience with Saxon. I've never looked at it because dh wouldn't let me :lol:. My plan is to continue with Singapore up through NEM, adding in Fred for fun as long as dd continues to enjoy it. More math practice = good. :001_smile:



You are correct in that the LoF Fractions and Decimals books are not stand alone curricula. I'm hoping to get the Fractions for ds next year because he finds fractions fun and so I want to do more (backward? Perhaps, but they're so important for Algebra.) The other books are, but we don't use any curricula that way.

#8 Frontier Mom

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 11:50 AM

Funny that I saw this because we use a variety of math here. My oldest just started Kinetic Algebra because I wasn't sure he was "getting it" with Saxon Algebra 1. He got to a place where he wasn't really confident in why he was doing what, so I switched last week to Kinetic Algebra. I like it so far but find it rather hard to tell what he is doing daily since it is computerized. Thus, we are starting LoF Algebra today. I feel he can't overlearn math!!

I'm also starting Fractions and then Decimals with my next two. The second oldest uses Saxon Algebra 1/2 now and does great with it. He has always done fabulous with Saxon but I want to review Fraction & Decimals as extra bonus. Next year I will do LoF Algebra with him, along with another program.

Third son is using BJ Fundementals of Math. He is also NOT a Saxon learner. I am using Fraction & Decimals with him as well.

My youngest is another Saxon style learner, getting almost every problem right every day with Saxon 6/5. I will do LoF with her maybe next year as a supplement.

How does this answer your question? Well, though I have an accounting degree, I have tons of higher level math I took in college and love math. I find LoF meaty enough but, sorry to say, I just haven't been able to wrap my mind around it being enough. I think the program is fabulous but I just find it hard to leave those darn textbooks behind.

I do find I skip some lessons if they already know the material. I think they are fun and give me great hope in math!!

#9 Sweater

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:00 PM

Just because the people she knows who have used LOF are not mathy people does not mean that it's not a good program. I have a friend who is an advanced Calculus teacher at a private school, and he's never heard of it. He is quite bright! Many teachers get in a rut with certain materials, and they get comfortable with them and never look elsewhere.

#10 ChrisB

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:17 PM

Just because the people she knows who have used LOF are not mathy people does not mean that it's not a good program. I have a friend who is an advanced Calculus teacher at a private school, and he's never heard of it. He is quite bright! Many teachers get in a rut with certain materials, and they get comfortable with them and never look elsewhere.


I think the concern was that maybe someone who wasn't math minded might not realize the holes in the program as much as someone more math minded. Or maybe LoF isn't as rigorous. She and I don't know, hence this discussion. She also acknowledges that it could be a great program and that it appeals to many learning styles. But she hasn't seen or heard much about it. I agree about the rut. Although, you could say, if it ain't broke, why fix it?...

#11 elegantlion

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:36 PM

There has been some discussion on this before, perhaps on the high school board. One of the conclusions was that LOF is not a program that has been around a long time, so there is not a large number of students who have completed all the levels.

We have completed fractions, are in the middle of decimals, and I have the beginning algebra. The beginning algebra when used with the home companion is 108 lessons, much larger than the fractions & decimals books.

I will say when it comes to passion and pride of their product I don't think anyone tops Stanley Schmidt, the author. What other curriculum writer autographs their books, wraps them carefully, pay $5 priority shipping to mail a $19 book, and interacts with students and teachers via e-mail and phone?

I plan on having ds complete all the books in the series. As a supplement or a stand alone program I'm not sure yet. I'm not a mathy person and I find them wonderful for my own self-education.

#12 Storm Bay

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:48 PM

I think the concern was that maybe someone who wasn't math minded might not realize the holes in the program as much as someone more math minded. Or maybe LoF isn't as rigorous. She and I don't know, hence this discussion. She also acknowledges that it could be a great program and that it appeals to many learning styles. But she hasn't seen or heard much about it. I agree about the rut. Although, you could say, if it ain't broke, why fix it?...


Have you checked threads on LoF on the high school forum? There are a number of mathy people who feel that the high school LoF is rigourous. I would agree that it is somewhat rigourous so far, with the exception of naming the specific Algebra Postulates. (ETA I've added a Life of Fred tag, although I doubt that all the LoF treads have been tagged.) That said, and I may be repeating myself here, I think any math program is better augmented with something else. It's very difficult to cover everything in one program when it comes to Algebra, etc. LoF does 2 full Algebra books and then Trig, whereas some rigourous programs combine Trig & Algebra 2. When you combine, you usually cover less Algebra, as far as I understand this.

But learning styles do vary, and some won't do well with LoF because they just don't learn well that way. So far I have never heard of any math program that works well for all learning styles. Also, some not everyone is going to like the story of Fred itself.

My favourite Algebra programs are:

Gelfand's Algebra. This is absolutely rigourous and has very long problems. Lots of theory. Dd will finish it when we do Algebra 2. I love the theory part of it and it's my favourite. It doesn't have an answer key, but there is a public domain PDF answer key that was put together by a former forum member (Myrtle's dh) that some of us have and could send you. I owe him many thanks for that.

Dolciani from 1965 to 1975. Old fashioned, written before calculators. Rather proofy, but the problems aren't as long as in Gelfand's. Hard to get solutions manuals, but you can get them. Rigourous.

Life of Fred. Modern, but better than almost every other modern high school Algebra out there, IMO, rigourous or not. For the most part I am not a fan of newer American Algebra texts. My second one is going to do this--I've read a good part of this and my eldest is doing the Geometry program combined with another right now. She has read the entire Beginning Algebra, but just for fun. We haven't seen the Fractions or Decimals books yet, but I hope to get the Fractions for sure. Perhaps the Decimals because my dd's want to read the whole story of Fred. Of course, I plan to have my second one do Algebra 1 twice as I'm a big believer in this, and she'll do it the second time with Dolciani & Gelfand's.

Lial's, because dd liked it better than most and it does cover the facts of Algebra. Apparently, we didn't choose the better one, so don't get the Beginning Algebra if you plan to use Lial's, especially if you have a student who learns math by reading the text.

Don't like:

Jacob's (dd found it boring, but some love this program.)

TT (not a good fit here at all, and not rigourous for sure.)

Couldn't afford:

VideoText or Chalk Dust (but dd only liked the instructor in one for Algebra and then liked the instructor for Geometry in the other.) But one of them doesn't even use a text and neither uses our favourite Algebra texts.

We didn't look at Saxon, because dd had had enough Saxon by then and I'm not a fan of it due to our teaching/learning styles. It wasn't the most rigourous elementary/middle school math we used, either.

Edited by Karin, 21 September 2009 - 01:00 PM.


#13 Sweater

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 09:52 PM

I think the concern was that maybe someone who wasn't math minded might not realize the holes in the program as much as someone more math minded. Or maybe LoF isn't as rigorous. She and I don't know, hence this discussion. She also acknowledges that it could be a great program and that it appeals to many learning styles. But she hasn't seen or heard much about it. I agree about the rut. Although, you could say, if it ain't broke, why fix it?...


Well, I've never seen anyone rely completely on LOF. I've only seen it used as a supplement. To me, as long as the child is learning math, it's working. Also, I've seen many public school children who are not understanding math, so I do actually see that something is broken. I cannot say what that something is -- perhaps it's just the lack of one-on-one attention. I have found math to be such an easy thing for children to understand so far in my homeschooling, as long as each moment of not completely understanding is dealt with and not glossed over.

#14 fivetails

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 10:43 PM

Well, I've never seen anyone rely completely on LOF. I've only seen it used as a supplement.


It's dd12's main math program at the moment. :)

We've gone 'round & 'round on math ~ we've tried out the Key To series, Abeka, MUS, Saxon, and regular store stuff. She hated 'em. She likes Fred. I'm not messing with a good thing by making it only a supplement. ;)

(That's not to say that I won't print out extra problems to solve or additional stuff if need be, because I will. But right now, if you asked her to show you her math book, she'll bring out Fred.)



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