Math has always been a struggle for my eldest child. We’ve been using Math-U-See for the past couple of years. It worked pretty well in the beginning because my child is a very tactile (hands-on) learner. The math blocks were perfect for helping her visualize the problems and fully understand the whys and hows of the math she was doing. Unfortunately, after a couple of years she became very tired of the pages upon pages of worksheets. She began to become very frustrated by it and in time it turned into a battle every single time she had to do math. Consequently, she fell behind in the math department. (Fortunately, for several years we were ahead of the game, so at this point she’s really only about 6 months behind.) I finally realized that we were at a breaking point and something needed to give. We needed a new approach and a way to make things fun, stat. After many hours of research, I decided upon Life of Fred.
Disclaimer: I was not paid or in any way compensated for writing this review. I purchased the product myself and am freely choosing to review the product because of our personal success in using it.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with my review! Life of Fred is a revolutionary approach to math. It’s basically an ongoing story that tells the story of Fred Gauss’ life. We started the series with Edgewood (book 5 in the 10-book elementary series.) What we have learned so far about Fred is that he’s a precocious and peculiarly small 5-year-old who is a math professor at KITTENS University. He, along with his doll and best friend Kingie, experience all sorts of adventures where they are constantly met with mathematical problems that need solving. It’s very silly and lots of fun to read! They also successfully manage to sneak math into it. My daughter LOVES it. It’s been a long time since she was last able to do math with excitement rather than tears. Wow! Unlike other math books, Life of Fred doesn’t constantly harp on one math technique until my daughter is ready to pull her hair out. It keeps moving at the pace of life, which keeps my child interested and engaged. On the practical side, I love that it’s not a consumable workbook, so it can be used over and over for all of my children. All you need is a spiral notebook and a pencil and you’re good to go!
My one and only complaint is that there are only a handful of actual enrichment problems with each chapter in the elementary series. (It is my understanding that is not the case in the more advanced books.) For some children this approach may work, but my child needs a little practice for the sake of reviews, as well as hands-on ways of applying what she’s learned. For us, extra supplementation is needed. The good news is that we have so far been able to find all the supplementation needed for free online with relatively little research on my part. It’s actually been a fun challenge for me to come up with creative ways to implement what we’ve read about in each chapter. (I will be beginning a new series shortly with links to all the FREE resources I’ve utilized as we’ve gone through the various books. I’m beginning my 5-year-old on the Life of Fred: Apples book – the first book in the elementary series – so I should be able to do a post for every single book in the series! Stay tuned! )
All in all, I must say that Life of Fred is a total WIN. It’s everything I hoped it would be, and the only drawback is an easily surmountable hurdle. For anyone who has a child struggling with math or needing a fun way of learning it, this is the resource for you!
And, just for fun, here’s a photo of Fred. 🙂