Monthly Archives: March 2014

Meet Fred

Why do we have to learn math from a book?

Here is a radical thought: Why can’t math (and any other information for that matter) be learned in Context? By context I mean, learn something because you have a practical need to know that something.

For instance, we learned the Pythagorean Theorem by fencing in part of our backyard. Voila, an actual reason to know a math concept!

My next favorite way to learn a math concept (if you are stumped with creating a context) is to find a math game that will at least make learning the math concept fun (i.e. Muggins Math Games–see my website).

My next favorite way to learn a math concept is this: Create a series of stories around a fictional character and put that character in situations where he must use math to get through his day.

Well, guess what? A fellow homeschooling family from Michigan just introduced me to The Life of Fred. Fred is the brainchild of math professor, Stanley Schmidt, PhD who presents math concepts through the life of a rather unusual (?) 5-year-old math genius and professor at a make-believe college. Fred is faced with all sorts of crazy situations in which he must use math to solve the problems faced by a typical (?) 5-year-old math genius.  The course begins with the most basic concepts of number recognition and ends with college-level Calculus. Filled with wonderful Fred adventures, one mother wrote that her child wanted his Fred books read to him at bedtime!

The books are large, hard-bound, and, compared to other hard-bound math books, cheap. The most expensive in the entire series (at over 500 pages) is Life of Fred, Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition: As Serious as It Needs to Be ($39.00).

I have listed the books under the appropriate Age/Grade Recommendations section (the author’s recommendations) but students may jump in at their appropriate age/grade level.

Take a look at Fred by going to my website, In the drop-down menu, Age/Grade Recommendations, look under the Math section for the appropriate Fred books for your children.

Then, let me know what you think of Fred

Uniqueness or Uniformity?

Much is made of the uniqueness of snowflakes. Or, the uniqueness of fingerprints. A religious person might say, “When God creates, He has unlimited possibilities and He uses them all.” Even a non-religious person might say, “Nature abhors standardization.”

Forcing children to spend large amounts of time in a common, age-grade institution—one that must prioritize uniformity—violates everything we know about human beings and everything we see in nature.