Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm fixin' to get good at math!

Maybe you remember my curriculum post at the beginning of the school year.  See, sometimes I like to put on this tough-gal front and pretend that I don't care about stuff or that it's my way or the highway.  Makes for funnier jokes, ya know?  But the truth is that I DO care about things and am always looking for what's better.  This is working, but could it be better?  In this case what wasn't working was Lizzy's math curriculum. 

She has never loved math.  She struggles.  She comprehends the concepts but when it comes to putting pencil to paper, numbers end up in the wrong place or there are the wrong number of zeros or the decimal point isn't where it should be and the whole thing falls apart even though she GETS the overall concept.  And forget memorizing facts with flash cards.  I mean, just forget that scene altogether.  For a while I thought maybe she was a bit dyslexic, but she can read with no problem. 

Have you ever heard of dyscalculia?  It's like dyslexia but specifically with numbers.  If it were really bad, I might seek out a professional diagnosis and some outside advice.  But her struggle is just bad enough to know that she dreads math work and that's bad enough for me.  So if she had this, what would I do? Back in the beginning of the year I claimed that she could just do the book I got her and suck it up.  But that's not really true and not really why I'm homeschooling.  Why am I in charge if I'm not gonna change stuff up when it needs to be changed?

See also: Monday morning is the perfect time to give oneself a research project

A lot of the math programs were just expensive, colorful versions of what I've tried in the past.  The drawings aren't the problem.  The concepts aren't the problem.  DOING the math is the problem.  And she's not being difficult.  I know my child.  I know what she's capable of when she's being lazy and when she truly cannot do any better than the materials are allowing her to do.  So how can math be different?  Is it even possible?  I mean, math is math, right?

*giggling with glee* No!  Wrong!  I found something! 

Life of Fred: Fractions | Main Photo (Cover)


Obviously there is some seriously budget printing going on here, y'all.  But guess what?  I like saving money.  No problem there.  Then I read the note to kids and parents on the sample lesson pdf and I was hooked.


Katie, my Saxon using, tedium-loving child was not interested at first.  "How can REAL math be fun?"  She was sure it was planet loser-ville and she does not roll like that, yo.  But finally she came over, looked at the algebra sample, did some of the practice work, laughed at the ridiculous story and said "So I'm allowed to do this too?"

Yes, child!  Yes, you may also learn a high level of mathematics and actually enjoy yourself while doing it!

So on their way to our casa of impatient children are books for all three of my school aged peeps.  If we love them: Thank you Lord!  If we don't: Hey, that didn't cost very much.  And they're non-consumable for optimum resale.


This is the first time in my life that I've been truly excited about a math program.  I mean...math.  Practical applications of algebra?  Then geometry?  Then trig?  Then CALCULUS?  Ehrmagherd.  I cannot wait!
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21 comments :

  1. What someone doesn't like math?? My accounting brain just can not comprehend. Math is my favorite.

    But seriously, my niece has that backwards number thing, and she even had to get taken out of Catholic school to go to public school to get the extra help she needed. She's doing better now, but I don't think math will ever be her thang.

    Have you heard of Khan Academy? I watched some news story on it, and it looked incredible, never actually looked at the website myself, but I'm thinking it could be invaluable to homeschooling moms.

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  2. I've been wanting to supplement with this for a while but am shy about plunking down the dough. It seems really neat!

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  3. That looks like something I still could use. I am terrible at math. I never ever ever got it. In college in order to take Math for Liberal Arts (read: taxes, basic accounting, useful things.) I had to pass Algebra 2. I took it twice and still couldn't pass the pre-req. LUCKY for me, my adviser was amazing and got me into Math for Liberal Arts anyhow. I think you are great for finding something that works for you or trying to at least. Keep us posted!!

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  4. Okay...I'm totally coveting Life of Fred. And, it looks awesome . However, maybe I'm still stuck in "traditional school sense" but I just can't get past them learning math without doing a lot of practice. I really want to try it, but it's my homeschooling annoying side that is worried "Is it going to be enough?" and "Will they really learn without all the practice?" Anyway, so please keep your readers updated on how this is working, because if it really does work, I think I'm going to try it.

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    1. My three oldest are using it (and I'm going to get the elementary ones for my 2 youngest). My 9th grader is currently in Advanced Algebra, the 8th grader in pre-algebra 2, and 6th grader started Fractions this year. My oldest is a "math" person and know his stuff. He tests very high in math and Fred is a great match for him. My 8th graded was average using Horizons but many times needed extra explanation. I wondered whether Fred would work for her - but it has far exceeded my expectations. For the first time, she "gets" it. If you want more practice, your kids can work on Khan Academy - there's free video lessons and tons of math practice. My kids consider math fun and love it. The beginning & advanced algebra also has a "zillions of practice problems" book that you can buy if your practice happy. I personally think Life of Fred is the BEST!!!!

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  5. I have a friend who swears by Life of Fred. Same issues with a couple of her kids. I want to hear how it goes!

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  6. Oh that is awesome!!! I am scared that I won't be able to teach math to a child who doesn't get it because it is like second nature to me. I'll roll my eyes and say things like, "Seriously? You don't know the square root of pi" or something equally as mean and sarcastic. But this program looks promising!!!

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  7. I'm interested to hear how this goes!

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  8. My children LOVE Life of Fred. My daughter is doing Physics and I sit here and do nothing. She reads and learns; it is wonderful. My son is on Fractions after doing Kidneys, Liver, and Mineshaft. I have nothing but great things to say about these books. The Bridges in Fractions and above make it simple to know if your children are comprehending what they are doing.

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  9. My oldest daughter ( very literary) LOVED Life of Fred...we have done pre algebra on up through Geometry. If you're nervous about it do it for half a year or during the summer to try it out, or just to have a break from "regular" math and learn math in a different way. I am just starting to get some of the younger books for my younger daughter to start.

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  10. I teach math, and have found the Key To books to be great for students who need extra help or want to work independantly instead of in a classroom setting. (I have an Independant Math Class for this reason). These books include Key To Fractions, Key To Decimals, Percents, Measurement, Algebra, and Geometry. The booklets are small, and do a wonderful job explaining what the concepts really mean in a visual way. If you're intrested, I would be happy to send you a few booklets. McGraw Hill recently bought the program. Which is sad only because it used to have a wonderful online component. But the books are still great.

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  11. Math ....... FUN?? I wish I had that opportunity in high school! and middle school. and probably before that. I've never liked math, but this really could have changed my outlook. How FUN!!

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  12. I forgot to include the link to the Key To books. https://www.keycurriculum.com/products/key-to/key-to-fractions This is the old webpage (before McGraw Hill bought it), but it is much more informative than McGraw Hill. The current website is here https://www.mheonline.com/program/view/5/4/2646/0WORKBOOKS/

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  13. My kids really love Life of Fred, we use it during the summertime and use a traditional math program during the school year.

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  14. I don't know if you have heard of Khan Academy before, but I use it with my students all the time, and it is a miracle worker. I know you said that she is understanding the concepts, but this is also great for practice/harder math things that are hard to teach. And the best part: it's totally free! Here's the link so you can check it out: https://www.khanacademy.org/

    Also, part of my job is as a math teacher. I would love to help you with strategies if you ever needed it!

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  15. Yay! Jump on the LOF bandwagon! It's a fun ride!

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  16. Wow - this program does look like fun AND I have a kiddo who just can't grasp it. I may look at this for next year! Thanks so much!

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  17. I've heard great things about LofF. We're very happy with RightStart, but it can be pricey because of all the manipulatives. I do love the concept of using card games to reinforce concepts. Dr. Cotter, the developer, notes that flash cards for most math facts are pointless.

    Also, have you seen Julie Brennan's Living Math curriculum. It's basically a book list, many , of which can be found at the library. Great for supplementing average curricula, enrichment even when you have a good one.

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  18. We LOVE Life of Fred!! And it's endorsed by my 12-yrs-teaching-math-experienced hubby, too :) We do have to supplement with some facts drilling (times tables and the like), but for introducing new concepts? It's the bomb!

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  19. YAY!!!!! I had a crappy few hours today of "wahhh!!! dumb budget!! dumb house for sale!!! dumb tiny house where everything is exploding out of everywhere!! Now i can probably never homeschool!!! and I probably need a j-o-b!!!! wahh! poor and broke and pregnant and my husband works so dangity danged hard to provide and wahh wahhh" CALL THE WAHMMM-bulance! I'm so blessed and if I don't know it then I might as well pluck ye ole eyeballs outta socket!!!!

    Basically, thanks for helping me shake the mud off from that bad trip into nasty, negative mud from which my amazing precious husband pulled me but I was still tip-toeing near.

    Wow. I am lame.

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