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Who has used life of fred pre-algebra?


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My son will be starting pre-algebra this year, and I'm still on a hunt for a curriculum. His charter provides Aleks (online math), but I think he also needs a text. It seems like LOF is something he would enjoy, but I've never seen one in person. I guess my question is - is it a complete curriculum? Would doing both LOF pre-algebra courses adequately prepare some one for moving on to algebra?

 

And, as you can see from my signature, he's very young. He's only 9 years old, which I know is young for pre-algebra, but that's where he is. He finished the Aleks 6th grade math series last school year. So, he's great at math, but he's also 9 and needs something entertaining to keep him interested - and he loves to read, so it seems like LOF could fit the bill.

 

Oh, and is there a problem starting LOF at pre-algebra level, having not done the Fractions and Decimals books? Looking at what's in those books, it seems like he's got the concepts covered, but I want to be sure there isn't a problem with starting this series in the middle.

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Since he's only 9, I would have him start with the Fractions and Decimals books for two reasons: (1) they're very funny and entertaining, even if he's not learning new concepts, and (2) it would get him used to the format of LoF, and to thinking about math in different ways from what he's used to.

 

The thing that throws some kids off with LoF is that it doesn't provide the explanation first, then present a series of problems to apply the concepts, as most math texts do. Often LoF throws a problem at the child and asks them to figure out how to do it, only offering an explanation after the child has puzzled through it themselves. The author specifically tells parents that they should NOT help the child and should let them work it out, even if it seems difficult for them. Some kids do better with this approach than others. ;)

 

I think if your DS is really solid on his basic math, then Fractions, Decimals, Prealgebra & Biology, and Prealgebra & Economics, would be a full year's Prealgebra program. My DS12 prefers to have the explanations first, then apply them, and he has a low tolerance for frustration, so LoF works better as a fun review for him rather than a primary math curriculum, but there are others here who are using LoF as a stand-alone program.

 

Jackie

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal
Since he's only 9, I would have him start with the Fractions and Decimals books for two reasons: (1) they're very funny and entertaining, even if he's not learning new concepts, and (2) it would get him used to the format of LoF, and to thinking about math in different ways from what he's used to.

 

The thing that throws some kids off with LoF is that it doesn't provide the explanation first, then present a series of problems to apply the concepts, as most math texts do. Often LoF throws a problem at the child and asks them to figure out how to do it, only offering an explanation after the child has puzzled through it themselves. The author specifically tells parents that they should NOT help the child and should let them work it out, even if it seems difficult for them. Some kids do better with this approach than others. ;)

 

I think if your DS is really solid on his basic math, then Fractions, Decimals, Prealgebra & Biology, and Prealgebra & Economics, would be a full year's Prealgebra program. My DS12 prefers to have the explanations first, then apply them, and he has a low tolerance for frustration, so LoF works better as a fun review for him rather than a primary math curriculum, but there are others here who are using LoF as a stand-alone program.

 

Jackie

:iagree:

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Since he's only 9, I would have him start with the Fractions and Decimals books for two reasons: (1) they're very funny and entertaining, even if he's not learning new concepts, and (2) it would get him used to the format of LoF, and to thinking about math in different ways from what he's used to.

 

The thing that throws some kids off with LoF is that it doesn't provide the explanation first, then present a series of problems to apply the concepts, as most math texts do. Often LoF throws a problem at the child and asks them to figure out how to do it, only offering an explanation after the child has puzzled through it themselves. The author specifically tells parents that they should NOT help the child and should let them work it out, even if it seems difficult for them. Some kids do better with this approach than others. ;)

 

I think if your DS is really solid on his basic math, then Fractions, Decimals, Prealgebra & Biology, and Prealgebra & Economics, would be a full year's Prealgebra program. My DS12 prefers to have the explanations first, then apply them, and he has a low tolerance for frustration, so LoF works better as a fun review for him rather than a primary math curriculum, but there are others here who are using LoF as a stand-alone program.

 

 

:iagree: too, and I'd also recommend starting with Fractions, then Decimals. Fractions then Decimals/Percents were the original LOF Pre-Algebra program. He wrote the other books to "stall" kids who got through them young but might not be quite developmentally ready for full-on Algebra (which sounds like it could describe your son). The Pre-Algebra books are a bit longer, and do have some new info, as well as the fun focus on Biology and Economics to keep it fresh. If he's quick with math, even all four books won't take him longer than a year - maybe less.

 

I personally use them for review, but I don't think my kids are the kind who'd do well with this as a first presentation of concepts. It's been great for summer review.

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:iagree:

 

I am with the pps. Ds did LoF Pre-Algebra w/Biology over the summer. He had already done the first 2 Fred books. I would start with Fractions, then Decimals, then do both Pre-Algebra books. That may take one year, it may take two. I'd just go at his pace and enjoy them. You should get a feel for his algebra readiness from the pre-algebra books. Being done with arithmetic does not always mean a child will be able to grasp Algebra. Being 9 doesn't mean he can't either. Just go a little carefully. There are a lot of parents that get their young kids through to Algebra II only to find they can't think at that level and are now stuck waiting for their maturity to catch up with their math skills. Its a bad position and often leaves former math whizes feeling like failures.

 

I hope you and your ds enjoy Fred as much as we do.

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I concur:D

The first two books are quite good.

Do you think he will be ready to go on to algebra at 10 or 11 yo? He very well may be - mine certainly weren't!

If you did the first two slowly (maybe add in some extra practice here and there), you could feasibly stretch out pre-algebra until he is 12. I know the author us coming out with a second Pre-algebra + science book (not sure when, though).

When I asked the author his thoughts on math sequencing, he very kindly emailed me back and said his opinion was that "boys shouldn't do algebra until they have hair under their arms." :lol: But I do think as far as the ability to understand the concepts - he's right.

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I agree with the advice to start with LoF: Fractions. However, there's no way those books will last a bright kid two years; even with the both pre-algebra books it would probably take than a year. If you want to hold off starting Algebra, you might want to look at:

 

Challenge Math

How to Become a Problem Solving Genius

Patty Paper Geometry

 

There are some other suggestions in this thread:

What do you do during the "Math Gap?"

Edited by nmoira
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I concur:D

The first two books are quite good.

Do you think he will be ready to go on to algebra at 10 or 11 yo? He very well may be - mine certainly weren't!

If you did the first two slowly (maybe add in some extra practice here and there), you could feasibly stretch out pre-algebra until he is 12. I know the author us coming out with a second Pre-algebra + science book (not sure when, though).

When I asked the author his thoughts on math sequencing, he very kindly emailed me back and said his opinion was that "boys shouldn't do algebra until they have hair under their arms." :lol: But I do think as far as the ability to understand the concepts - he's right.

 

Oh, heeheehee, hahahaha, hohohohoho! :lol:

 

That's awesome!

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Thanks everyone - you've been very helpful. It sounds like the consensus is that starting with the fractions book is the best choice, which is what I was really wondering. Even if it's review for him, I think since the format is so different, it won't really feel like I'm sending him backwards - and he'll get Fred's background story! And, honestly, slowing him down a bit is part of my goal. He sees online math courses as a bit of a speed challenge - how fast can I get through this and on to the next thing? And while he does learn it, I want him to slow down savor it a little. Beyond that, I'm really not qualified to help teach him past Algebra 2/Geometry. I had a really awful Trig/Pre-Cal teacher in HS and pretty much stopped math altogether after that - so anything like that or higher, I'll need to be learning along with him. And, again, if he's going to continue into higher level math eventually, these are the things he needs a really firm foundation in. Anyway, I'd like to make sure that by the time he completely passes me by, he and I are both comfortable with him taking a community college math class (and that he's at an age that the CC is comfortable with him being in class). I'd rather slow down a bit now than have him get to 12 yo or so and not know what to do with him.

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  • 1 year later...

We started with LOF Decimals and Percents, since LOF Fractions seemed too redundant when we started, after switching from Singapore Math. We went through the two LOF pre-algebra books when our son was 9, and they worked very well for him and was able to finish them mostly on his own without help (I'd say there were about two sections in each book that were not clear enough to follow and/or he wasn't able to get without help). We then started the LOF algebra and that didn't work as well, esp. after we got about 1/3 of the way through it. He's 10, and it seemed that the LOF Beginning Algebra text was a bit difficult because of the age but the concepts didn't seem very difficult with an alternative explanation. I'm not sure how much it was flipping between the text and Fred's Home Companion, the nature of the explanations, and a bit of being tired of the Fred story line, but we switched and it works. We're using Jacobs with supplemental material -- I'm not real fond of that book either. It seems a bit lower level algebra. He often gets problems not in the book. The age doesn't seem a problem for the algebra material, but I think that the presentation for a 10-year old needs to be different than for a 14-year old.

 

I'd be interested in others people's experiences. We're not sure what to do after algebra. I'm not sure that he's ready for geometry next year.

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We're using Jacobs with supplemental material -- I'm not real fond of that book either. It seems a bit lower level algebra. He often gets problems not in the book. The age doesn't seem a problem for the algebra material, but I think that the presentation for a 10-year old needs to be different than for a 14-year old.
I'd give Art of Problem Solving (and their Alcumus "online learning system") a good look. There are numerous threads about it in the Middle Grade and Accelerated Learner boards.

 

http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/

 

You may find it expedient to repeat parts of Algebra 1 with AofPS if the Algebra 2 materials seem too challenging. You can also have him work through Art of Problem Solving Books 1 and 2 and/or Counting and Probability and Introduction to Number Theory before moving on to Geometry or Algebra 2.

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I'd be interested in others people's experiences. We're not sure what to do after algebra. I'm not sure that he's ready for geometry next year.

 

Second the recommendation for the AOPS Discrete Math (counting, number theory) books as well as looking through the Algebra book.

 

If you found Jacobs problems low-level and unchallenging, you might seriously consider investing in the Pre-Alg and Algebra books now instead.

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