Quick Review: Life of Fred Intermediate Series, Fractions and Decimals and Percents

To see my review of the Life of Fred elementary series, click here.

My son has always loved Life of Fred. He completed the elementary series by the end of the fourth grade, and in 5th and 6th grade, he completed the intermediate series (Kidneys, Liver, and Mineshaft) and then Fractions and Decimals and Percents. He always went slowly and deliberately, carefully answering all the questions on paper, and he would redo questions that he got wrong. I used to read the books with him, but somewhere in the intermediate series, he started doing them by himself.

I would say that Life of Fred has made up over 90% of his math education through 6th grade. I have tried a few other curricula, including Khan Academy, but nothing ever stuck like Life of Fred.  He occasionally used online videos when he needed something clarified, and I have had him work through selections of test prep books before he had to take our state’s required standardized test so that he could practice using a test format.

I have read numerous reviews and comments from other parents saying that Life of Fred makes a good supplement, but it doesn’t offer enough practice to be a complete math curriculum. I always disagreed with that, but I let those comments go because, well, how did I really know? It was the only curriculum my son wanted to use, so that’s why I stuck with it. Well, now my son’s score on a recent standardized test has convinced me that Life of Fred is a good program. I don’t usually mention his scores at all, but I feel it’s important to let people know that Life is Fred can be a good option for a homeschool student’s math curriculum, if the student likes it.

Perhaps people who think it’s “just a supplement” have not stuck with it enough to realize what the author is doing? I don’t know. I can see where some kids may not like the quirky story format, and that’s a valid reason for not using it. And it certainly does not follow the typical public school math course, but if you and your kid like it, stick with it! The intermediate series and above are more difficult, and many of the problems are complicated word problems. The curriculum really makes my son think, and I think it’s served him very well.

UPDATE (2021): I stand by this review as my son has continued to do very well in his math scores. However, after attempting the Pre-Algebra Life of Fred books, he didn’t like them as well, so we switched to Khan Academy for the remainder of junior high. My younger son moved away from Life of Fred a little earlier than that. For high school, we are using an online resource, and you can read about that in my PDF resources.

Note: I realize that using Life of Fred is very controversial among some homeschoolers. (I have been reprimanded in certain Facebook homeschool groups for recommending it.) The author is Christian, and this is apparent in the books, but as liberal as I am, nothing he wrote ever bothered me. He may have other views that I would very much disagree with. I can’t blame the people who don’t want to use this curriculum for those reasons, but ultimately, I have to weigh the political statement of not using these books with the good this curriculum can do for my son. I can talk to my son about other people’s world views and biases, and I know this author’s views will not influence him, so I am sticking with what in my opinion is an otherwise excellent math curriculum.

6 thoughts on “Quick Review: Life of Fred Intermediate Series, Fractions and Decimals and Percents

  1. I have a difficult time following secular homeschooling groups for exactly this reason. They seem divided 50/50 into two subgroups: (1) people who are not religious and simply want space to discuss homeschooling where religion is not a major aspect of the homeschool experience (which is fair enough), and (2) folks who are militantly against Christianity specifically and for whom the personal beliefs of an author is the only important litmus test for an academic resource. The latter believe that Christians are so irrational that they cannot even remotely entertain the idea that a Christian could produce a valuable academic resource. I have no idea how people from (2) could possibly be giving their children a quality education, given how much of history involves religion, and don’t even consider subjects like philosophy before the 1960s. By their definition, Albert Einstein would be a bad resource for teaching physics because he talked about God in places. I feel like both Christian and secular homeschoolers need to appreciate that their children are going to meet people from other backgrounds in this world, and they are doing them a disservice with the bigotry in every which direction. If you go for a job interview in the United States, there’s a 70% chance that the person interviewing you is going to identify as a Christian. It’s pure insanity to raise children with this attitude.


    1. Saucy Sand Piper — I couldn’t agree more. I should also mention that it’s not just his religious views that have riled some people, but there is a thread going around about how he responded insensitively to someone’s e-mail query. I won’t go into the details on that, but I am not going to boycott a curriculum based on someone’s claim of what he MIGHT have said to someone I don’t know, and like you, I feel that whether we agree or not, there are many people out there with contrary views, and while boycotting can sometimes be a good way for a peaceful protest, I don’t feel it would do any good in this case. And we’d be throwing out A LOT OF ESSENTIAL STUFF, if we didn’t use products/services etc. manufactured by people with views with disagreed with. Like you, I have a hard time following stuff like that, so I mostly stay out of group chatter. Thanks for the comment!


      1. So much drama, lol. Well, I haven’t tried LOF (we use Saxon, which has its own advantages and shortcomings that I have grown equally exhausted hearing about), but after you introduced me to the Michael Clay Thompson language arts program, I’d definitely trust your opinion. Our daughter loves it so much. Royal Fireworks Press has a couple of story-oriented math books for very young kids that were fun too (Awesum Alex). Not a full curriculum, but a fantastic break from problems to focus on concepts like place value. I think it’s kind of neat someone created such a thing for teaching place value specifically. In my experience, if a young child has a problem understanding math, it usually derives from not understanding place value.


      2. Oh, great! So glad you like MCT! And thanks for telling me about Awesum Alex. I have missed those on the Royal Fireworks Press website and will have to look them up. I do love Royal Fireworks products so much — wish I could afford to buy more!


Part of the reason I keep a blog is because being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely! So please reach out with a message, if you have a question or would like to chat. I usually write back within 24 hours, but please be patient.

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