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# Totally Baffled by Life of Fred

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Maybe I am slow but after buying these books and reading through them, I still have no idea how he is teaching math concepts. All I see is a nice story with a cute 'real life' application and a bunch of problems with no explanantion on how to work them and an answer key right underneath. (Not a good idea, to me.)

What am I missing? It is as confusing to me as MCT is for teaching lang arts.

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Maybe I am slow but after buying these books and reading through them, I still have no idea how he is teaching math concepts. All I see is a nice story with a cute 'real life' application and a bunch of problems with no explanantion on how to work them and an answer key right underneath. (Not a good idea, to me.)

What am I missing? It is as confusing to me as MCT is for teaching lang arts.

Which books do you have? Did you look at the bridges? What you are describing (Your Turn to Play) are the practice problems. The author explains why the answers are with the Your Turn to Play problems in the beginning. The author is basically teaching math concepts through word problems, applying math to life. I don't understand what you mean by the Your Turn to Play problems have no explanation on how to work them. They are all about what has been learned during that lesson. We've done Fractions, Decimals & Percents, Pre-Algebra 1 and about 1/3 of Pre-Algebra 2.

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Well, I am a LoF and MCT user... neither baffle me, they make sense. ;)

Fred does explain the your turn to play problems within the answers. It is not just that the answers are underneath, he shows how to get to some of the answers there as well. By showing the answers, usually you can figure out how to do the problems, if you aren't clear on how to do them. It is different that a plain old answer key.

The bridges are where you get to see if you understand what is going on. I have noticed with my kids, that there are certain types of questions that they have trouble with on the bridge, and if they don't get a certain concept right, I go over that again, but I have noticed that they get it by the next lesson or two.

A lot of what makes Fred good is something that I, as an adult, cannot quite quantify. My kids have learned more math from the 2 1/2 books than I would expect, and understood it better (with better retention) than with Singapore alone. Why? I don't know. Maybe because of the story, way it is presented, built in review....strangeness factor... who knows.

The bottom line is that my kids love it, we are over 2 weeks ahead of my math schedule and one whole month ahead on our Singapore, as they now gladly do both lessons every day. They look forward to math, which they didn't before I started Fred. Why or how it is working... I don't know, but I like the result.

Part of why I think it appeals to my kids, and this is the same with MCT, is that the author loves the subject and it shows. He also breaks it down into it's simplest elements and says... hey, it isn't as complicated as it looks, let's go play with it!

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I have the fractions and the decimal book and I don't see how the kids could use them as a stand alone either. I see them as a fun supplement to a core curriculum.

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Maybe I am slow but after buying these books and reading through them, I still have no idea how he is teaching math concepts. All I see is a nice story with a cute 'real life' application and a bunch of problems with no explanantion on how to work them and an answer key right underneath. (Not a good idea, to me.)

What am I missing? It is as confusing to me as MCT is for teaching lang arts.

We're only on the first LOF, & we use it as a supplement to Singapore, fwiw. The most important thing I want to say is that LOF IS like MCT. I suspect that liking or not liking either of them is a personality thing. And I also suspect that some of the mad crazy love for MCT is derived from the likelihood that those who have the personality to love MCT do not have an incredibly common one & thus have rarely had the joy of finding a match to themselves in anything. :001_smile:

Back to LOF. The "real life" application is one of the things that *most* keeps students from getting math--when it gets a little hard, they balk, because, after all, When will I ever need this stuff?

Then there are learning styles. My dd learned the alphabet because she demanded the "reward" of letters "talking" to her when she got their names right. She's very conversational. It finally dawned on me (last month!) that she needed the same creative, conversational approach to math. She was weeping that ds is better at math than she is & gets it faster, & I explained that really, she just needed an opportunity to talk about everything in order to deeply understand it. That idea DELIGHTED her, & while she's too young yet for LOF, I went ahead & let her read the intro. She's seen ds giggling over it & been quite jealous, & she's been working harder ever since to get to the point that she can do "story math," too.

As far as the answer key, ds doesn't approach this math like a chore, but like a game. He uses the key to check his work. It's not so much about having the right answer on the page (I don't make him turn his work from LOF in, & I only check the bridges), it's about *getting* that answer yourself. Like a code book or Sudoku or something. The process is the point.

There isn't any explanation in the traditional sense, but there's sort-of some in the story line. Since we're on the first book, I'm not sure how much this will be a problem when the math gets more complicated, but I have found notes about how to do stuff in surprising places--like the answers to the Bridges. When ds passed his last one & I noticed the greater & greater explanations on ea proceeding bridge, I had him go back & *read* the answers to the ones he got to skip.

And, oddly, ds's writing improved as a result of LOF. He's got a similar dry humor to the author, & he LOVED being able to footnote things like "freedom" pre-Civil War, to note that it only included white men.

I love LOF. I love MCT. I love them so much that I'm in the process of changing my entire educational philosophy. I love the structure of a classical ed, but it turns out that's not exactly what I want for my dc. I can't put into words what I *do* want yet, but whatever it is, MCT & LOF are the embodiment of it. :001_smile:

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I have the fractions and the decimal book and I don't see how the kids could use them as a stand alone either. I see them as a fun supplement to a core curriculum.

The Fractions and Decimals & Percents books were never intended by the author to be stand alone curriculum.

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Well, I am a LoF and MCT user... neither baffle me, they make sense. ;)

Part of why I think it appeals to my kids, and this is the same with MCT, is that the author loves the subject and it shows. He also breaks it down into it's simplest elements and says... hey, it isn't as complicated as it looks, let's go play with it!

:iagree: To understand Fred & MCT you need to start using the book with your dc.

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Maybe I am slow but after buying these books and reading through them, I still have no idea how he is teaching math concepts. All I see is a nice story with a cute 'real life' application and a bunch of problems with no explanantion on how to work them and an answer key right underneath. (Not a good idea, to me.)

What am I missing? It is as confusing to me as MCT is for teaching lang arts.

Try not to beat yourself up. ;) I've tried both LOF and MCT for my youngest ds and didn't like them either. I was like, "Huh? WHY is this sooo wonderful again?" I totally do not get what all the fuss is about.:confused: And it's not like I'm a complete moron (though that's sometimes questionable. Ha!) I mean I have taught and graduated two boys who are doing very well in college. Two boys who were pretty much raised on traditional Maths and Language Arts I might add. So, if LOF isn't your cuppa...I say dump it and move on, baby! :D

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I have the first two books. So when do the books become stand alone? Which book do you go to after Decimals and Percents now that the Pre Algebra books are ready?

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I have the first two books. So when do the books become stand alone? Which book do you go to after Decimals and Percents now that the Pre Algebra books are ready?

I *think* they become stand alone in Pre-Algebra if both books are used. I believe that's what the author told me in an email but you may want to double check with him. Now that they are both out you would do the Pre-Algebra books between Decimals & Percents and Beginning Algebra.

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The Fractions and Decimals & Percents books were never intended by the author to be stand alone curriculum.

I know a few people that use them with the Key To... math series, and I think that's what we'll do next year.

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My LOF books arrived yesterday, the first two, and I spent a couple hours enjoying the reading. I'm really hoping they hit with DS who admits to not liking math, but loves to read and has a similiar sense of humour as well. One thing that I liked was all the footnotes as well, LOVED the subjunctive clause explanation.:D(oh gosh, now I'm wondering if I'm using the correct word, was or were!!!) I think this is going to be a fun series. DH is wanting to look through them to see if there are stories he can use in class, or possibly just keep the books in class for the kids to read on their free time. I've been seriously thinking of getting the calculus edition to see if I can finally get that to sink in--took me way too many semesters to get through that dang class.:tongue_smilie:

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We have the Fractions book and I think maybe it could be a stand alone book for a highly gifted child who just needs to be shown something once and then gets it. For us, it is a fun supplement for Fridays.

Lisa

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The lessons in LoF are designed for self study. That is why the answers are right there with the questions. What I do is I take the answers to the bridges out of the back. If a child just copies down the answers in the lessons without understanding them, they will never be able to cross the bridges. One of the great things about LoF is that is impossible for a student to "fake" their way through it. In order to progress, they have to not only know the math, but to truly understand the hows and whys of it.

LoF is not an easy math text when used correctly. Kids can get stuck. But they are more motivated to figure out what they need to know than with any other math text. It is more like being stuck on a crossword puzzle, as opposed to figuring out some random xyz math problem that they don't know why they would ever need to know. They see it as a challenge. It is also important to let the student figure out the problem on their own. Many homeschooling parents (myself included) have a really bad habit of intervening every time our child gets stuck on something. The author of LoF makes it clear that with the LoF books he doesn't want anyone stepping in to help. He said everything they need is in the book for them to figure out the answers. He even says that if they become majorly stuck he would prefer they call or email him for help (can't beat that level of service).

I did use the first two books as a stand alone program. I used them for my youngest son's fifth grade year. He had a terrible 4th grade math experience with R&S (you can read more about that in another thread). I planned originally to supplement the books with the "Key to" books. I even bought them and had him start using them. It wasn't long into LoF that he far surpassed the math problems in the "Key to" books. He would have to do like 10 pages in "Key to" to keep up with one lesson of LoF. I realized using supplements was superfluous and unnecessary. It was like a light bulb moment for me. No wonder the kid hated math, I was acting like if it wasn't torture (i.e. mindless drilling) then he must not be learning anything. How can that mentality not be picked up on by kids?

Think about it, reading is fun. We all love to read, if a reading program is boring or dry, we toss it and move on because we want our kids to love reading! We also go to great lengths to make history, science, languages and geography fun. Then we get to math..... here is a program that really makes math fun and parents have the opposite reaction to it. "Oh it's fun, math can't be fun, it must mean they aren't learning anything!" :001_huh: Then we sit and wonder why our kids run away crying every time we pull out a math book.

And just to add, my mathlexic, math phobic, math hating, youngest son, tested halfway through 6th grade math (at the time of the placement test he had only done the Fractions book, he hadn't even started on Decimals yet). When he started attending school he was showing the class how to do certain problems which they wouldn't be learning till 8th grade. He came home literally glowing with pride because for the first time he felt like he could actually be "good" at math. Good luck finding another program that can teach a kid to love math.

I have always been of the opinion that prior to the university level the most important thing we can do is teach a kid to learn. The best way to do that is to make them love learning. If we are insisting a subject bring them to the brink of tears to be effective, I think we are using the wrong tactic.

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These are all excellent answers. I apprecite the time and thought that went into each one. I think I will let him go at it and see what happens. I suppose it doesn't matter if I get it as long as he gets it.

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We're only on the first LOF, & we use it as a supplement to Singapore, fwiw. The most important thing I want to say is that LOF IS like MCT. I suspect that liking or not liking either of them is a personality thing.

Hmmm... I love & adore MCT, but bought & re-sold LOF. Dh & I both found the style to be more irritating than clever. All of these posts in praise of it make me second-guess myself, though. It seems as though I should love LOF. :001_huh:

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Maybe I am slow but after buying these books and reading through them, I still have no idea how he is teaching math concepts. All I see is a nice story with a cute 'real life' application and a bunch of problems with no explanantion on how to work them and an answer key right underneath. (Not a good idea, to me.)

:iagree: However, we love MCT. Go figure.

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Hmmm... I love & adore MCT, but bought & re-sold LOF. Dh & I both found the style to be more irritating than clever. All of these posts in praise of it make me second-guess myself, though. It seems as though I should love LOF. :001_huh:

I don't think that you should second guess yourself. Remember each curriculum fits a different style. If you sold a curriculum because you could not connect with it, don't think that you have to go back to it because of what you read on the boards.

In learning, one size does not fit all. If Life of Fred fits a lot of people on the boards, but not you, there is nothing wrong.

I use to be upset if others did not like a program that worked for me. Then, I wised up. You are wise for reselling a book that you thought was irritating. Not every curriculum fits every learner.

BTW, I love Life of Fred. So, I am saying this to encourage that if you did not feel comfortable, then stick with your instincts.

Blessings in your homeschooling journey!

Sincerely,

Karen

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

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A lot of what makes Fred good is something that I, as an adult, cannot quite quantify. My kids have learned more math from the 2 1/2 books than I would expect, and understood it better (with better retention) than with Singapore alone. Why? I don't know. Maybe because of the story, way it is presented, built in review....strangeness factor... who knows.

From dh's psych class (I don't remember my own :tongue_smilie:), you have to apply new facts to something to make them stick. Putting them to music is one way (can anyone really forget SchoolHouse Rock songs?) and I think putting them in the LoF story form is another way to apply to something so it is remembered more effectively.

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Try not to beat yourself up. ;) I've tried both LOF and MCT for my youngest ds and didn't like them either. I was like, "Huh? WHY is this sooo wonderful again?" I totally do not get what all the fuss is about.:confused: And it's not like I'm a complete moron (though that's sometimes questionable. Ha!) I mean I have taught and graduated two boys who are doing very well in college. Two boys who were pretty much raised on traditional Maths and Language Arts I might add. So, if LOF isn't your cuppa...I say dump it and move on, baby! :D

:iagree:

If its not your cuppa tea then I say dump it. The best piece of advice I can give is to use what makes sense to you. If you do then you can effectively teach it to your child(ren).

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I get LOF. People retain the info. better if it's presented in a context that is important to them.

As the author says, a man doesn't forget what his wife said when he asked her to marry him. That's because it was important to him.

On the other hand, children forget math all the time. Every summer their scores dip about 30%. Saxon has developed an entire curriculum based on continously driving the info. into the child's head so the child doesn't forget it.

But, LOF introduces the math with a story. And children start to care about that little kid. So, the info. becomes important to them.

Plus the math is learned in a context- the story. So, it makes sense and is retained better. Just memorizing things out of the blue is difficult, but when they are put in a meaningful context, they are retained better.

Plus, LOF is fun. Children (and adults) enjoy it. It changes their outlook on math from math is boring to math is fun. The positive view of math helps the child be more motivated to learn math.

For many children, looking at a bunch of numbers and symbols on a page is completely meaningless. There doesn't seem to be any point to it. They don't understand why they have to learn this and they really don't want to.

Plus, LOF is like a really good college professor talking to you. He gets sidetracked sometimes and defines obscure words or talks about ancient Rome or something and it's interesting and the child learns to be more of an intellectual in the process. Someone who knows more about the world.

I like to have my dd exposed to people like that. Many children aren't. They are mostly exposed to other people's children and the only adults (parents and teachers) in their lives function pretty much like policemen. So, the child isn't exposed to high level discourse or thinking very much.

Anyway, we love LOF, but don't use it as the sole curriculum. We use it on the side. Hope this helps.

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I don't think that you should second guess yourself. Remember each curriculum fits a different style. If you sold a curriculum because you could not connect with it, don't think that you have to go back to it because of what you read on the boards.

In learning, one size does not fit all. If Life of Fred fits a lot of people on the boards, but not you, there is nothing wrong.

I use to be upset if others did not like a program that worked for me. Then, I wised up. You are wise for reselling a book that you thought was irritating. Not every curriculum fits every learner.

BTW, I love Life of Fred. So, I am saying this to encourage that if you did not feel comfortable, then stick with your instincts.

Blessings in your homeschooling journey!

Sincerely,

Karen

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

Thanks. Sometimes I think I need permission not to do something I dislike even though part of me thinks I should do it/like it. :tongue_smilie:

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• 2 months later...

Taking notes to help me wrap my head around how to use Life of Fred. :)

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This is probably going to make me sound like an idiot, but I could never remember about cardinal and ordinal numbers until my kid's first day (I think!) using Life of Fred. Anyway, we love the books, my 13 year old is working through LOF Algebra this year and doing very well. :D

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:iagree: However, we love MCT. Go figure.

Hmmm. I love LOF, as done my 8 yo. Does this mean I need to buy MCT?:lol::lol:

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Not necessarily, LOF is a hit here. The kids like it, I get it, but we all HATE MCT. I want to like it. Most of my logic stage heroes on this board love it, but I just can't figure out how to make it work. I just don't get it.

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