Posted in Subject Math

How I Wish I’d Learned Math

For a free math curriculum that is based off this model, check out the Mathematics Enhancement Program from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.

Posted in Classical, Education & Homeschool News, Reading & Literature, Subject Math

A Classical Education Success Story

8+5=13 (additio)

Classically educated children score higher on standardized tests, and private education by nature costs more than public. ACCS schools average an annual price tag of $7,000.

But classical educators point to the success of Gregg’s Hope Academy as proof that classical education isn’t just for the privileged elite. Three-quarters of the students are from low-income families; 80 percent are ethnic minorities.

And yet their math and reading test scores are three times those of neighboring public schools.

Read more:

Posted in Our Adventures, Subject Math

Done with Ice Cream!


In light of our recent math woes, I am thrilled to announce that after working with Math Mammoth for a couple of months, Delightful, 10, has managed to make it all the way through Life of Fred Ice Cream with only one question about one problem!  She is now nearing the end of Jellybeans, which means she may soon be able to say goodbye forever to Life of Fred’s Elementary Series.  Yay!  Now on to Intermediate!

Posted in Our Adventures, Subject Math

Jumping For Joy

Wilhelm Rögge Eine fesche Oberin 1889This is an update on what has happened since I got Frustrated with Fred.

For the past few weeks, Delightful, 10, has been working through Math Mammoth 3 in order to solidify her basic math skills and learn some topics and problem-solving methods that she had not covered in Life of Fred.  Since we are trying to accelerate through levels 3, 4, and possibly 5, we have been doing more than one chapter at a time in order to keep the program from becoming too tedious.  On average, we have been doing 4 pages a day, spread among the 5 chapters of level 3A.  This means it is taking longer to complete each chapter than it would if we just worked straight through the worktext.

Today Delightful wrote her first test, and to be honest, I was a little concerned about how she would do.  Even though the math being covered is not overly challenging for her, kiddo does have a tendency to make careless errors, even to the point of accidentally leaving certain questions blank and forgetting to do them.  Today I need not have been too worried, though, because she scored 100% on her test!  Yay!  Now she is jumping for joy and starting to think that maybe she isn’t so bad at math after all.  Kudos to Math Mammoth for rebuilding her math confidence!

Posted in Curriculum, Subject Math

Frustrated with Fred

After years and years of using Life of Fred math, I have finally come to a point I never thought I’d come to:  I am frustrated with Fred.

Currently, I have two students using Life of Fred’s Elementary series and here is our experience to date:

Student 1, in Grade 2, is working right on track through the texts but has had to put Fred on hold until she fully understands certain concepts.  We read our way through Apples to Farming this year with little trouble.  However, everything fizzled out in the first chapter of Goldfish when suddenly this question appeared in the Your Turn to Play section:

Find a value for y that makes this true: 2y=10.  2y means the same as 2 times y.  2y means the same as 2 x y.  2y means the same as y + y.

This was the sum total of the student’s first introduction to the concept of multiplication.  My daughter’s response?: “Huh????”  And so we have been taking a break to understand a lot more of what multiplication is and how it works.  My daughter picked up the idea right away once I explained it to her (for free!), but Fred’s explanation just wasn’t working.  The thing is, I think math programs should be able to clearly introduce and explain concepts to young learners without making huge conceptual leaps.  After all, that’s why parents buy them, isn’t it?

Student 2, in Grade 5, has in my opinion stalled in her progress with Fred.  She completed up to Ice Cream in Grade 2 and this year made it to the beginning of Mineshaft.  That means there has been some progress.  However, this student has needed a ton of help from me to make it through each text and still cannot make it through Ice Cream without help even though she has been through the text at least 5 times.  The difficulty seems to be the way Fred introduces and explains concepts (often in the Your Turn to Play sections and not in the main text); the gaps between introduction of concepts and further review, especially with concepts like area and perimeter; and a lack of practice with new concepts to make sure they are fully grasped before moving on.  Normally, I would not mind filling in gaps in understanding, but in this case, due to the way the texts are laid out, I cannot just flip back in a chapter to find the information needed to re-explain a concept.  I often find myself searching through more than one book trying to find out where a concept was first introduced and then later reviewed so I can thoroughly help my child.  This is time-consuming and, frankly, annoying.  This particular child is extremely intelligent and should be able to easily master fractions and decimals at this age.  And yet, we are still not in those texts and are not having fun trying to get there.

Overall, I have come to agree with the following criticisms by Charlotte Web of the Life of Fred curriculum:

On Fred’s lack of really teaching number sense:

Yet, in LOF regarding the sums of tens this is written, “Write all the pairs that add to ten (Edgewood, pg.77).”  That’s it.  This does not develop a child’s number sense.  Children need to know how to play with numbers, how to break them apart and combine them in different combinations. Other curriculums help children develop number sense through teaching different ideas or strategies that they can use when adding and subtracting, such as “adding one more than a sum of ten” or “adding one more than a double.”  These strategies are not just to help a child memorize their facts, but they serve to teach a child number sense, or how to think mathematically.

On the explanation of new concepts like long division:

My issue with long division is not that it could not be self-taught according to the book, but simply that the math is not explained clearly.


The LOF curriculum is not clear and is difficult to self-teach in that there is an illogical presentation of mathematical concepts.  Huge jumps are made from one concept to the next with little or no practice or explanations in between.

You can read Charlotte Webb’s whole review here:

As a result of our frustration, I decided to supplement Life of Fred with another math program.  We settled on Math Mammoth for reasons of cost, quality of instruction, and ability to use semi-independently.  Student 1 is currently working through the Grade 2 text and is enjoying it so much she wants me to buy MM’s stuffed mammoth mascot to go with it.  Student 2 is currently working through the Grade 3 text.  I had to put her back to Grade 3 math because that is the level that introduces fractions and decimals and also reviews concepts like time and money.  Sadly, no matter what program I chose, this student would have been in Grade 3 or 4 math due to the scope and sequences of various programs.  This is a huge frustration for her, but she needs the extra instruction and practice in approaching math problems in different ways without making careless errors.  I plan on using MM and LOF together for the foreseeable future.

Since purchasing MM’s first 3 levels, I have also learned about another math program that I am exploring.  It is called Strayer-Upton Mathematics, and it sounds incredibly amazing.  I particularly like the format since everything is all in one book and the concepts are thoroughly taught with application to the real world.  I am looking into whether or not it would be overkill to use SU with both MM and LOF or whether I should just choose between SU and MM for grades 4-8 (please comment if you can speak to this!).  One thing is clear, though:  LOF is becoming a fun review and supplement for us, but we need a program that clearly teaches number sense and mathematical concepts to go along with it.  Sadly, LOF is no longer that type of program for us.

Posted in Education, Education & Homeschool News, Higher Education, Reading & Literature, Subject Bible & Theology, Subject English, Subject Math, Writing & Penmanship

Education Around the Web, December 2015


Some recent education-related headlines:


Home schooling of 20,000 children across the country will be reviewed amid fears they are being ‘radicalised by parents’

UK government mulls ‘crackdown’ on homeschoolers

Higher Education:

Oklahoma university president: School is not a ‘day care’ or ‘safe space’


Harry Potter in schools ‘offends religious parents’: Teachers accused of exposing children to ‘witchcraft and Satanism’ when using books in the classroom

One in eight children have never been given a book: Study also finds pupils who read outside of school are five times more likely to be above expected level for their age

Philadelphia high school removes Huckleberry Finn from curriculum because its racial slurs are ‘challenging for students’

Parents’ outrage after Virginia high school students are asked to practice calligraphy by writing ‘There is no god but Allah’

Teachers should ban times tables tests to stop children developing a crippling fear of making mistakes, says leading academic


Blind seven-year-old girl who was banned from using her white stick because it could trip up teachers will go to another school after being ‘forced out’ by online campaign

Christian religious assemblies for children should be scrapped along with segregation of pupils by faith says ex-High Court judge

Tell pupils that Britain is Christian, schools are told as Education Secretary vows not to force teachers to spend time on atheism

(Updated) Kid’s toys are recording and transmitting every conversation

Posted in Education, Education & Homeschool News, Higher Education, Leftism in Education, Public Education, Subject English, Subject Math, Subject Physed & Health, Survival, Writing & Penmanship

Education Around the Web, November 2015


I have been very busy for the past few months and have rarely had both hands free at the same time, making it next to impossible to write blog posts.  However, I have been able to cobble together a few education-related headlines from this past month.  Here is what caught my eye:


School to homeschoolers: Sign up or face criminal charges

Leftism in Education:

Children as young as FOUR being given transgender lessons which encourage them to explore their ‘gender identities’

Dumbing Down of America? California School District’s New Grading Scale Gives out Cs for “Doing Absolutely Nothing at All”

Ontario elementary teachers to integrate transgender content into the “teaching of all subject areas”

Primary school BANS blind seven-year-old girl from using walking cane ‘because it could trip up teachers’

Utah school homework assignment to make propaganda poster for jihadi groups: “JOIN ISIS!”

Higher Education:

Universities Have Become Totalitarian Gulags


It pays to be good at maths! Nigerian professor solves 156-year-old Riemann problem to scoop $1 million prize

Ontario math scores remain low in latest round of testing

Primary school bans pupils from wearing goggles in swimming lessons because ‘they don’t prepare youngsters for emergency water situations’

The intricate handwriting and perfectly penned sketches of a 1930 schoolgirl that came to light when her satchel was found in a school clearout are a fascinating insight into a bygone age


How starting school at seven can improve concentration at 11: Holding children back a year is found to reduce inattention by 73%

Praise hard work, ignore grades and NEVER tell them they’re clever: Super-tutor who has taught royalty reveals how to get children ‘addicted’ to learning

School leavers are unemployable because they can’t speak properly, says business leader