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I was highly suspicious as I listened to Louisa laugh through her math lessons and totally enjoy doing them. I was stunned to watch her go straight for math when she started her homeschool work each morning. I picked up the book and read an outlandish story about a miniature boy named Fred and all his adventures. I couldn't imagine she was really learning math, so I asked her to tell me what she had learned so far in the 16 lessons she had completed. She quickly jotted down this list for me:
coefficients . . . (need I go on?)
I was impressed to say the least! How could a girl who hates math actually be enjoying Algebra and really learning the terminology as well as how to do the operations? I contacted Stan Schmidt, the author of the Life of Fred, and a retired college math professor of 28 years whose self-proclaimed mission is to help kids love math. I asked him, "How do I know a student who does Life of Fred will retain it?," to which he replied, "How much of your school algebra did you retain?" Ouch!
The idea behind Life of Fred is that if students have an enjoyable experience and have fun doing their math, they will remember it and use it and have a good taste in their math about the whole subject. The sub-title on each of his math books is "As Serious As it Needs to Be". And that is just the point: math doesn't need to be horrid and dry. This is math—just as serious as it needs to be—and I can tell you from Louisa's smiles and chuckles, that's not very serious at all!
As a bonus, these books are very low priced compared to any other math books on the market. (Compare to Saxon at $50-70)
Beware: This is not a traditional math book. This is a child-directed course. The student reads the adventure story, does the math problems that occur as a natural part of the story, and checks their answers (the solutions are right there for the looking.) And learns to love math in the process! You will not get the detailed formula explanations that you get in a traditional math book. I am still amazed that kids can read the story and learn the concepts, but they do!