In Love of Learning, Math Reviews, Reviews, Thomas Jefferson Education

Some of my kids do not like to read. Some do not like to do math. Stanley F Schmidt, PhD recognized that many kids out there feel the same way.

Who is Fred?

fredThe Life of Fred books are about a boy who must be a prodigy because he is a professor at Kittens University at the tender age of five. He sleeps in his office on campus with his doll Kingie. He knows everything about math from kindergarten through college levels.

Even though Fred is 5, he has an amazing amount of adventures and there is lots of humor to be found. The story line is a lot of fun for all my kids. Since it’s not dry, I enjoy it, too. I want to see what Fred will do next- especially in a chapter that included geography. Fred had an ocean liner in Kansas!

Life of Fred also teaches about grammar and important topics from other disciplines.

Yes, Life of Fred is a Math and SO much more!

I hear you saying, “Wait a minute! Isn’t this a math series?”

Yes, it is. Like you, Fred encounters opportunities to use math and knowledge from other disciplines in his everyday experiences in each chapter (you could call them lessons). He does art, geography, grammar, history, and more.

As Fred has his adventures, he shows his work, explains why it works, and shows the answer. At the end of the lessons, the kids get an opportunity to “play,” which really means it’s their turn to shine by showing what they learned.

Though the lessons can be self taught, it is important that a parent be near by to answer questions and to make sure students answer the questions at the end of the chapter before turning the page. Why? The answers are on the next page.

Yes, I did get distracted when my 2nd grader was working on a lesson and he looked at the answers. He even memorized them. I gave him similar questions of my own to make sure he understood the concepts and explained why his choices could have made life harder in the future.

Where do I start and how much should we do per day?

The books do not correspond to grade or age level. Instead, the names are in alphabetical order for elementary students. Students are encouraged to start with Apples, the first book in the series, no matter what elementary grade or age they are introduced. This allows them to learn the format. The scope and sequence isn’t taught in the traditional order most kids and teachers are used to seeing. If they start at a higher level, they may miss out on important details.

When my 5th grader started the series, I allowed him to do multiple lessons per day because it was the first time in his educational career that he found something that he was interested in reading. Some of the lessons in the first few books stumped him because the concepts were never taught in his previous curriculum by k12.

Schmidt recommends that students read only one chapter (lesson) per day. If they are excited about the lessons, they’ll have even more anticipation the following day.

The list of the complete Elementary Series (k-4):

  • Life of Fred: Apples
  • Life of Fred: Butterflies
  • Life of Fred: Cats
  • Life of Fred: Dogs
  • Life of Fred: Edgewood
  • Life of Fred: Farming
  • Life of Fred: Goldfish
  • Life of Fred: Honey
  • Life of Fred: Ice Cream
  • Life of Fred: Jelly Beans
  • Life of Fred: Kidneys
  • Life of Fred: Liver
  • Life of Fred: Mineshaft

When kids are introduced to this series in 5th or 6th grade, Schmidt recommends that they complete the last 5 books of the k-4 elementary series. Otherwise, they can start with the Prealgebra series:

  • Life of Fred: Fractions
  • Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents
  • Life of Fred: Elementary Physics
  • Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology
  • Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics

Then move onto the high school series:

  • Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra
  • Life of Fred: Zillions of Practice Problems for Beginning Algebra
  • Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra
  • Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra Companion
  • Life of Fred: Zillions of Practice Problems for Advanced Algebra
  • Life of Fred: Geometry
  • Life of Fred: Geometry Answer Key
  • Life of Fred: Trigonometry
  • Life of Fred: Trigonometry Companion

and college series:

  • Life of Fred: Calculus
  • Life of Fred: Calculus Answer Key
  • Life of Fred: Statistics
  • Life of Fred: Statistics Answer Key
  • Life of Fred: Linear Algebra
  • Life of Fred: Linear Algebra Answer Key

My child finished, but isn’t ready for algebra. Now what?

There is a strong likelihood that kids who start this program in the K-3 will finish the series before they are 11 years old. The best course of action, in my opinion, is to have them start from the beginning and work more independently than they did the first time around.

Why? Well, when teaching my kindergartener and second grader, they needed more help with reading. The reading challenges got in the way of them processing the content on their own. When an older child starts over, they are able to reach conclusions by thinking on their own.

I treasure the child who learns to think on their own instead of waiting to be spoon fed. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this program from the beginning.

The other reason is that most kids aren’t ready for the kind of thinking

After using it for a while, I discovered that the gurus who promote the classical approach, such as Thomas Jefferson Education, also recommends this series. Even if they didn’t, I’ll stick with a program that my kids are inspired by and enjoy.

Have you thought about using Life of Fred and have questions? Or do you already use Life of Fred and want to share your likes/dislikes and/or other thoughts? Now is your chance!

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