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Math Formulas

Why Choose Life of Fred?

There are six things that distinguish the Life of Fred series from other homeschooling math curricula:

1.  Life of Fred is fun.
2.  Life of Fred explains the need for math.
3.  Life of Fred is inexpensive.
4.  Life of Fred provides a broader education.
5.  Life of Fred is clear.
6.  Life of Fred is complete.

Let’s look at each of these six points.

     First, it’s fun. 

  •    A mom wrote emailed me: “I just discovered my son working on his 8th math lesson of the day--at 9:15 p.m.!!!” 

  •    Another mom wrote: “I received my copy of Life of Fred: Fractions today.  Well actually I bought it for my daughter, but I am enjoying it first. . ..  Hello?  Free shipping?  I wanted to buy every book now before you changed your mind.” 

  •   Another: “I have just finished Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents.  Mum is always telling me I can’t do more Maths, because I always want to keep reading Fred’s story instead of my other schoolwork.”


       When is the last time you wrote to an author of a math book saying how much you liked it?  On this web site is our Raves from Readers.  Click here to go to that spot.

     Second, the Life of Fred explains the need for every piece of math. 

     Every math teacher gets the same question: “When are we ever going to use this stuff?”  Fred answers that question.  He is born in one of the books and grows up through the books to the ripe old age of six.  In his everyday life he first encounters the need for some piece of math, and then we do.  Every part of math--from factoring in beginning algebra up through hyperbolic cosines in fourth semester calculus--every piece of math is needed.  

     Third, Fred is inexpensive. (this is USA $) compared to other Algebra book on the market.

      I went to and typed in the search box “beginning algebra.” 

      Fourth, Life of Fred provides a broader education.  In the government schools, the math teachers must teach only mathematics in their classrooms. This is an unnatural way to instruct children.
     There is a tangible inner coherence among all the areas of knowledge.
      In the Life of Fred series, Dr. Schmidt teaches as a parent might teach his/her children. Educators have talked for years about the importance of cross-discipline teaching, but how often do you learn about history in a math class? 
      In Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra Expanded Edition, you read about Christina Rossetti and Joan of Arc. 
      In Life of Fred: Geometry Expanded Edition, we discuss stereochemistry, homochirality and what Melville meant when he wrote in the first lines of Moby Dick, “. . . whenever the hypos get such an upper hand of me.”

       Fifth, the Life of Fred books are clear.  They don’t require a teacher or a tutor or a classroom setting.  They are self-teaching.  In fact, I encourage parents not to help, tutor, or teach!  Why?  After your kids graduate from the university, almost everything of importance that they learn for the next forty years will be by reading—not from hearing lectures or playing with manipulatives.       

       Learning to learn-by-reading is one of the most important parts of a child’s education.  When they are in kindergarten, virtually everything they learn is from the teacher’s talking.  As they go through the grades and up into graduate school, reading becomes the increasingly dominant mode of learning.  I want to point them toward adulthood. 

      That’s why I don’t toss in DVDs, teacher’s manuals, manipulatives, and other junk.  (Creating videos for this series would be a snap.  For five years in the 1990s, I produced, edited, wrote, and acted in a weekly television series with the theme of what it means to be well-educated.  I don’t make videos, because it would be a disservice to the children.)

      Sixth, because Life of Fred is so much fun, some readers might wonder if it is lightweight.  The opposite is true.  The Life of Fred is truly complete.

      I taught for years at the high school and the college level.  Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition, for example, has more math in it than is normally taught at the college level.  

     Compare Life of Fred: Geometry Expanded Edition with Jacob’s Geometry.  He has about a dozen ruler-and-compass constructions.  Fred has 46.

     Compare Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra Expanded Edition with Saxon’s Algebra 2.  Saxon leaves out (and Fred includes) (1) permutations; (2) matrices; (3) linear programming; (4) series; (5) sigma notation; (6) sequences; (7) combinations; (8) Pascal’s triangle; (9) math induction; (10) partial fractions, which are needed in calculus; (11) graphing in three dimensions; and (12) change-of-base rule for logarithms.  

    Life of Fred: fun, motivating, cheap, clear, and complete. 

Where should I start in the Life of Fred series?


That depends on where you are in your math!

Click on the category that best fits your situation.

I'm weak in math.  How much math do I have to teach?


     For the Elementary Series, pop your kid in your lap and enjoy the adventures of Fred together.




     Once your child reaches Life of Fred: Fractions, things will change.

      One of the most important skills we want our homeschooled kids to acquire is to learn how to learn by reading.  In kindergarten, 99% of what kids learn is from the teacher's mouth.  As they progress up through high school and college, increasingly they learn more and more by reading.  
     After they graduate from the university, for the next 40 years almost all of the technical things they will learn will be by reading—and not by hearing someone lecture.  We want to prepare them for college and adulthood.
     One of the most valuable skills that Life of Fred offers is the ability to learn by reading.  Assuming your child is of normal academic ability, any "help" that you might offer would short circuit that learning how to learn by reading.
     Kids are human . . . and hence, they seek the most labor-saving approach to life.  And the name of that is . . . Mom.  And moms instinctively respond to their child's call for help.  But in this case, I believe that it is not in the best interest of the child.  
     You are hereby relieved of all teaching of mathematics.

      If your kids insist on help, you can blame it on me. "Dr. Schmidt said that I'm not allowed to help you."

      If they claim that they are really stuck, they can take responsibility for their own learning and they can email me with their question.  (How many other authors make this offer?)  
    Moms who email me on behalf of their children are relieving their children of their responsibility for their own education.  We want our children to own their own education as much as possible. 

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