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Life of Fred Beginning Algebra *Expanded Edition* Hardcover – 2013
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All of first-year high school algebra.
Older editions of Beginning Algebra had a companion book. This edition replaces both Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra and Fred's Home Companion: Beginning Algebra. All problems are completely worked out.
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Top Customer Reviews
Because of this book, my 14-year old son finally enjoys math. He's working through it independently, with practically no help from me, and is happy to be doing so. It turns out a lot of this book (but not all of it) is a review for him. Originally he planned on skipping sections he knew, but decided to go through them again anyway. He realized doing sections that were reviews for him meant easier math work on those days. Plus, doing ALL sections in the book makes the end-of-the-chapter reviews, called Cities, much simpler to go through. This Expanded Edition replaces both Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra and Fred's Home Companion: Beginning Algebra.
The long review:
My 14-year old son switched to Life of Fred in February 2014. Before this, we'd been using an algebra textbook similar to what kids use in brick and mortar schools. I like math of all sorts, so teaching him from a book like that was easy for me. My son is great at math, including algebra. But, he HAAAAATES it. (Math is a good analogy for how he felt about public school in general -- he asked early into the 2013-14 school year if he could be homeschooled, and here we are.)
The only bad (which was unfortunately often the longest) part of our homeschool day used to be the two of us sitting around a math textbook, with him complaining his way through lessons and problems. And yawning. And cracking every single knuckle on each hand. And complaining some more, while yawning. I'd work all the problems out the night before I'd assign them, and help him with any issues he had, but he was still miserable. If it was easy, he hated it. If it was difficult, he hated it. See a pattern? We'd do it early to "get it out of the way", but it often made him -- and then me -- crabby for a good part of the morning. In January 2014 we were talking with some other homeschoolers about math. One suggested the Life of Fred series. I'd researched the LoF books before pulling my son out of school, but then again I researched a million books before pulling him. At some point I decided the traditional type textbook was the way to go, and discarded the idea of Life of Fred.
But after being reminded of the books, I re-looked at the LoF website and downloaded a sample of the beginning algebra book. I asked my son what he thought. He commented it looked a lot different than other textbooks, and said it was worth a try. Because of his current career interests (computer programming), he knows he needs to take a lot of advanced math, and, he needs to understand what he's learned. I'd be willing to try anything that would help him like math, even just a little.
I bought him the Life of Fred Beginning Algebra book because, although we've been working on algebra for awhile, I was sure there were be some topics we hadn't yet covered. If I started him in Advanced Algebra and it was TOO advanced, we'd be in a similar boat to the one we were in now. I got the Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition instead of the "non-Expanded" one because Expanded was a combination of the Beginning Algebra and the Fred's Home Companion book. It sounded like that Companion book was helpful to those that have reviewed it.
What a 180 Life of Fred has done on my son. I'm almost afraid to say it so as to not jinx this, but he completely loves the Beginning Algebra book. (I AM one of those people that will change my review if our feelings on a product changes -- this better not be one I have to update.) Every school morning for the last 2.5 months my son has gotten up early, showered and dressed, and has completed multiple Lessons without any assistance from me at all. He reads each lesson and does the full assignments (they're not long). He doesn't check the answers beforehand, although they're all in the book complete with the explanation of how to arrive at the answer (*I* would have looked at the answers as a kid, so I'm not sure this book would have worked for me.) He occasionally needs help with a problem, and in those cases he'll have me look at the answer so I can tell him if he's on the right track. If he's not, I'll steer him the right way. He's had me do this for him 3 or 4 times total so far in 10 weeks. That's how little I've helped him with Algebra since he's started using Life of Fred.
Soon after he started the book, he told me a lot of this book covers things he already knows. He decided he was just going to do the Lessons he didn't know, so he bookmarked the Lessons he wasn't comfortable with, and/or wanted to review. There are just over 100 Lessons in the book, and he marked about 30 he wanted to cover before moving on to Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra. However, he soon realized skipping Lessons wasn't the best idea. At the end of each group of Lessons there are three end-of-the-chapter reviews called Cities. Each of the three Cities is a review of the last group of Lessons, and each City is a little tougher than the last. He found he had to keep going back to re-read Lessons he'd skipped to get through each City. Therefore, he pulled all his little bookmarks out and decided to just plow through all the Lessons, review or not, to more easily cruise through the Cities.
Incidentally, his routine has been to do 2-3 Lessons a day. When he gets to the Cities, he only does one a day (the book even recommends just one City a day.) Everyone's different, but that's what's working for him. He's been working on this book for about 10 weeks, and he's on Lesson 79 of 104. If you'd had told me last year my son would get through over 400 pages of an Algebra textbook on his own (and an almost full notebook of problems to go with it) in 2.5 months, I would have laughed. Now he's not only doing it, he's flying through it. And kind of loving it.
On a personal note, *I* didn't love this book on my initial review. I think the layout is kind of messy and busy. There are too many font types. The text is too big in some places and too small in others, and there's not enough whitespace. It's riddled with weird clip art and weird line drawings, and much more text than actual problems. However, it seems to cover and explain topics well. Apparently I'm more of a regular-textbook, do-one-hundred-problems-before-going-to-the-next-chapter kind of girl. But this isn't about me. My son likes how the book reads. He thinks the drawings are funny. He says the stories about Fred are funny, even though most are out-of-this-world ridiculous. And he's not just getting through the problems, he's understanding what he's learning. So who cares what I think. My son is enjoying math for the first time ever. He's getting it, and he's liking it. THAT'S what's important.
If your child is struggling with math and you're thinking about taking the plunge, check out the Life of Fred website for a downloadable sample of any of their books. Make sure to let your child look at the book samples, too.
I love these books - I had the common sense to preread them of course. And to the indoctrination I say - everyone is trying to indoctrinate your child - it is YOUR responsibility - to pre-read and see if the authors beliefs agree with your own. He's Christian - and he's fantastic - please keep it up. The secular books indoctrinate too - but for whatever reason people refuse to see this.