View Full Version : Life of Fred Users?

05-11-2010, 09:56 AM
I'm doing some more searching for math curricula this morning and came upon the Life of Fred series. I remember seeing that several of you are using this series. How are you liking it? Is it too easy? I personally liked what I saw in the samples because it was easy for me to understand and I'm significantly math-challenged. My son is not and I want to make sure that what we are doing is rigorous enough for him. Any thoughts are much appreciated. We would be using the Beginning Algebra book.

05-11-2010, 10:56 AM
I have been using Life of Fred with my 14 yo, who is pretty good at math until he gets panicked . . . he really liked the LOF books at first, but he got stuck on the 3rd chapter of algebra. We went back and did pre-algebra, but he still got stuck on algebra. My understanding from reading a lot of other users is that LOF is actually good for the talented math students who do not need a lot of repetition and review - even the home companion books, which give a lot of review, are still not going to be as spiral/repetitive as some curriculum. It also works very well for a reveiw, or to get kids interested in math. i dont think its easy - i think it moves quickly. However, to be honest, I only came over to help with problems, I didnt actually read the book. It is supposed to be self-teaching.

How old is your son?

05-11-2010, 11:04 AM
Hi Cara,

Thanks for the feedback. My son is 12 and is currently doing Pre-Algebra in regular school. I think I will pretest him before actually buying a curriculum because he changed schools in the middle of the year and I have a feeling that some things got lost in the transition.

05-11-2010, 01:15 PM
We just bought it & haven't really started using it yet. However, I have looked through the Beg. & Advanced Algebra books & home companions. Here's my impression of it, from what I've seen:
It's a fast moving program. The home companion does offer some extra practice, but not a lot. The program is meant to be used independantly, for the most part, with parents doing very little. It appears better suited to a child who is strong in Math & does not want/need extensive review & practice. Due to it teaching Math in a more fun/interesting way, it would also be good for a student who isn't particularly fond of Math.

This is actually why we bought it. My daughter HATES Math, but is very good at it. We're trying to find a program that will, at least, stop the fighting about doing Math. TT was better than anything else we had tried, but I'm hoping LOF is even better.

05-11-2010, 01:44 PM
We have been using LOF for the past year, for my son who is challenged in math. He is in the 7th grade(13) but he could never seem to get fractions, but thru the story of Fred he is starting to get it. We do review every 5 chapters with the bridge tests in which he reads all the chapters as a refresher, seems to be helping. This book along with math programs we are using (singapore math and time4learning) seems to be filling in the gaps that he missed when he went to public school. Is your son a visual learner? Mine is and I think that is why he clicks with this type of material. I don't read the books either so when he gets stuck I ask him where in the book they talked about that material and I skim over it or even cheat and look at the answer and work my way backwards;)

05-13-2010, 11:54 AM
I have the Fractions, and Decimals and Percents books, but we haven't used them yet. We are going to start the fractions book in the summer after my daughter learns her multiplication facts. She hasn't looked at the books yet, so I am not sure how well they will work.

05-13-2010, 06:49 PM

Thanks for asking this! I have been looking at Life of Fred for my son for when he starts homeschooling in the fall. He is 9, in grade 4 and labelled 'gifted' in math, but I am not sure that means too much.... I think I am going to start him with Professor B grades 3-5 for review and then move to Life of Fred after I'm totally sure he has the concepts down.

05-13-2010, 08:13 PM
We used the fractions book and got halfway through the Decimals book. We really wanted to like LoF. My dd really wanted to like it. It didn't work. She needed more practice and is using Saxon. I have not looked at the Algebra and the Home Companion so I cannot tell you about those. FWIW, I was so charmed by the program that I seriously considered looking at it again for Algebra next year. While we like Saxon, I think we need a tweaked version of Saxon with slightly better explanations. However, after a great deal of consideration, I decided to go with Lial's.

Have you looked at Jacob's or Foerster's? They have the explanations but have some humor thrown in. Not to the extent LoF does, but still humorous.

05-13-2010, 10:50 PM
Have you looked at Jacob's or Foerster's? They have the explanations but have some humor thrown in. Not to the extent LoF does, but still humorous.

I had not heard of Jacob's or Foerster's so will definitely add them to my list of things to explore. Thanks for the suggestion and thanks to everyone who responded. Your comments helped!

05-14-2010, 11:46 AM
However, after a great deal of consideration, I decided to go with Lial's

Hi Ann,

I spent quite a bit of time looking at Lial's, Jacob's, and Foerster's books this morning and they all look good. Have you used Lial's book yet and, if you have, what do you think of it?

05-14-2010, 02:36 PM
I do have the Lial's book. We are going to use Introductory Algebra, 8th edition. The ISBN is 0-321-27921-2. I found out about Lial's from a woman I met on vegsource. Turns out she is from my town and her parents and in-laws still live here. We spent some time visiting and we shared info back and forth. She is a math teacher and has a homeschool online math class. She uses the Lial's books for her algebra. Lial's is used in community colleges as remedial math. Their Basic College Math is equivalent to Pre-Algebra. It looks very good. The problem with Saxon is that while is gives good explanations, it assumes some mastery of ideas. Lial's is more thorough in explaining. I found the solutions manual easily online. I got both at amazon and abebooks.

I bought the foerster's cheap because I had heard such good things about it on homeschoollibrary. There are some mathematicians there. Many people use Foersters after Jacob's because Jacobs does not have Alg. 2. However, Foerster's Alg. 1 is very good. There is someone who has cd lessons to go with Foersters, but I must have deleted the link. The reason why we did not go with Foersters is because the last time I checked, they would not sell new to homeschoolers and I had no luck finding a solutions manual that was guaranteed to match up with the student edition I had. I suppose if I tried hard enough I could have made it work, but I wasn't interested in going on a manual hunt! I have a friend who has a degree in math who used the Foersters book I had. It does have answers in the back, and as she is a math person, she wasn't worried about the lack of solutions. However, from geometry on, she would like solutions.

We like a complete solutions manual, not just answers, because math can be contentious. (I just had to interrupt this to tell me overly emotional dd that I would not explain her math until she calmed down.) Anyway, if you have the solutions in front of you, it saves your sanity and keeps you from being too much of the bad guy because it's not you saying the work is wrong, it's the book. And in higher math, the process is often as important as the correct answer. I have been told solutions in geometry don't matter if you use a program heavy in proofs, as the proof is both the answer and the complete solution.

Anyhoo, I do not believe Jacob's has solutions either, or they didn't used to. So that is why we didn't do that book. I do have Jacob's 2d edition geometry. Many people prefer the 2d edition because of the way they handle poofs.

BTW, many of these books are very cheap on the internet if you are willing to go with prior editions. I think I spent a total of $20 for the Jacob's, Foersters and Lial's, including shipping. While solutions manuals are generally expensive, the Lial's one was only $12, including shipping. Given how expensive some math programs can be , I didn't mind spending that to look something over, especially when I have loaned out the ones I didn't use to help out friends.

Oh, and here is the link to my friend's math class:


Hth and I didn't confuse or bore you!

05-14-2010, 05:01 PM
Hth and I didn't confuse or bore you!

You didn't confuse or bore me at all! That was exactly the information I needed, especially knowing about the availability (or lack thereof) of solutions manuals. It is definitely a help to know HOW something is done as opposed to just seeing the answer.

Thanks so much, Ann, for taking the time with such a detailed response! I feel like I'm narrowing things down and panicking less which is a good way to go into the weekend. :)