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Encouragement for a New Year; Opinions on 'Life of Fred' Math

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, January 03, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 1, January 3, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Notes from Heather
-- Encouragement for a New Year
Winning Website
-- Great Site for Teaching Writing
Reader Question
-- Life of Fred Math Opinions
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Homeschooling Encouragement for the New Year!

Recently on our HomeschoolingBOYS email group a mother wrote in with the concern that she feared failing her son. Here are three encouraging emails she received that are an encouragement to all of us. And Happy New Year to all! :-)


"I have a dear friend who is always saying that as long as you have taught your child how to learn there is nothing he or she cannot learn on their own. So put this on a post note and post it all over the place until you believe it. Because as long as your child can read a book and understand what it says and knows how to look up what they don't understand, they will always be able to learn something new. And with that knowledge you can never fail your child in teaching." -- Tanya in VA


"Unless your child has won the national spelling bee, published a bestselling novel, or discovered a cure for cancer, I don't suppose most homeschooling moms ever completely squash that niggling little fear until at least one of their children is old enough to be successfully moving about in the world without their parents' help! Hearing stories about super homeschoolers accomplishing great things doesn't help, because then you wonder what that mom's doing that you're not!" -- Celise


"I think that one way to look at it is that school is NO guarantee to a happy adult getting a good paying job doing something he enjoys... nor is it a guarantee to a good college. You cannot know the future... the moment is what we have. And in this moment, your son is with the person who loves him the most. A childhood filled with love, affection, and the time to truly find what he loves to do is the foundation to all you want for him." -- Michelle


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


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  • Sight pelagic birds
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Winning Website

Teaching Writing -- http://nadabs.tripod.com/writing/

Found this site as I was looking for help teaching a high school student essay writing skills. There are several pages of step-by-step guidance and advice for teaching middle and high schoolers. Some links take you to other sites, but the author's site offers a lot of solid writing guidance. I especially liked the "Approaches to Teaching Writing" section.

Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

Life of Fred Math Opinions?

"I was wondering if anyone has tried Life of Fred math curriculum. It looks awesome, but I'm leery of trying something different." -- Lisa

Our Readers' Responses

"We tried Life of Fred (fractions) at the end of last year to fill the last couple of months of math for my 11 year old daughter who had just finished Math-U-See Intermediate so she wasn't following too hard on the heels of older sister. There are lots of great online reviews commending it, however my own experience with curriculum is to look closely at who it is designed for. My understanding is that Life of Fred was designed for brush up work at the college level. The story format would work uber-well with this group as it is kind of nutty and one could just breeze through catching any gaps. Now, we already had a fine backgroound with fractions, yet this curriculum was frustrating as our daughter would feel sort of 'punished' if she had missed too many and had to do the extra back-up work. We are having a much better time solidifying fractions with Key to Fractions before continuing with Math-U-See. (We jumped into book 2 of the four book set). Both Key to... and Life of Fred are very inexpensive; I would just maybe save Life of Fred, personally, as a refresher for a college age student." -- Eunice


"This is our first time using Life of Fred. We are currently using the pre-algebra book. My son really likes the story line, but I am having a hard time knowing how much to help. The book claims to be self-teaching, but I still have to review with him to make sure that he really 'gets' it and doesn't just enjoy the story. I think that we should have started with the decimals and percents book, because that seems to be a weak point. I think that we might go back and do it before we move on. I really like this series for the simple fact that it relieves some of the stress of hating math, but it hasn't been as 'self-teaching' as I thought it might be. The biggest benefit of the program is that it really teaches thinking skills - you have to know what is being asked before you can solve the problem. The price is right to see if it would work for you!" -- Brenda


"We use Life of Fred and we like it. One of its features is limited drill, which is great for children who grasp the concepts easily. But we need additional practice and review on some of the concepts. Practice exercises are very easy to find by doing a search on the internet, so this is not a problem for us." -- Mary Beth


"We have used the first two books in the Life of Fred series and have LOVED them. My 12 year old daughter has been a reluctant math learner almost from the start, often collapsing into tears at the sight of a math text. She has loved Life of Fred and has succeeded very well in it. The program is set up for mastery instead of getting just enough to move on. It does not overwhelm the student with sheets full of questions. (You could add work sheets if you want, but I wouldn't recommend it as it would take the JOY out of doing math -- that's right, I said joy of doing math.) It does instill mastery of the material with many helpful hints. If you are unsure that you or your child would like it, they have sample lessons on their website. The child needs to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide to use this program. If they are weak in those areas, do some review before you begin Life of Fred. WARNING: Life of Fred is very silly and loads of fun -- it is possible that your child may (like mine) beg to do math every day!" -- Tracy

Answer our NEW Question

Advice Needed Please...

"I have 4 children that are all elementary aged. I have just started homeschooling them in August. I know they say that the first year is the hardest, but I am very close to putting them back in public school. I feel like such a failure and like I am failing them in their education. It is much harder than I ever anticipated. Due to financial stresses I have had to pick up a part time job. I am blessed to be able to work from home, but juggling the two seems impossible. On top of everything, I have a husband who constantly pushes me to have more educational time with the kids. It's just all around so much to carry. I know that many people have had these same issues and I was wondering what you think. Should I put my children back in public school where I feel like they will at least get an education? It may defer many arguments in our home and also allow me to work. On the other hand, my heart is so set on homeschooling them and teaching them more than just academics. I love my children more than anything and, like all moms, I want the very best for them. I'm so torn! Is there anyone who has a word of advice for a mom stuck between my life and the rest of the world?" -- Joy in Georgia

If you have some encouraging words and/or practical advice for Joy, please send it!
Mail to hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

P.S. I'm going to share the responses to Joy's question in Monday's issue (1/10). On this Thursday (1/6) I will post the answers to the Time4Learning question of a few issues back.

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question for our readers?

Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll answer it in an upcoming issue!

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