Reinforcing Life of Fred Math – Middle School



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Reinforcing Life of Fred

You know we love Life of Fred Math. I’ve raved about Life of Fred before, about how much we love it, about how amazing these books are. 

We’ve also discussed one of the concerns I frequently hear about Life of Fred – the obvious lack of practice work, AKA “busy work.”

It’s true, Life of Fred doesn’t give timed practice sheets, or much in the way of “practice” at all. The “practice” comes through the doing of the lesson and, once you hit the middle school age, through the Bridges (quizzes) you have to pass to continue on.

So in answer to the question, “What if your child needs more practice,” let me say it again:

When your child needs more practice, you do more practice.

It’s as easy as that! Yes, you may need to go FIND more practice, or you might just simply make up the practice problems yourself. But in either case, when you see that your child doesn’t quite have the hang of, say, long division, or finding circumference, then you just put a hold on the Life of Fred lessons, and you spend time working on that until they get it. “Until they get it” might mean hours, or a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks. 

And I understand the dilemma. I do. Whether it’s feeling like you’re going to get behind in the book because you’re stopping to work on skills, or whether it’s feeling like you can’t possibly think up enough practice problems on your own. And I understand having to fight the feeling that you might not be doing something right if your child isn’t getting it and needs more help.

I know because I fight these thoughts myself. So let me help you put these fears aside. 

  1. There is no such thing as “BEHIND” in Life of Fred. That is, unless you continue on in the material before they grasp it fully, and then your child might feel “behind” in what the book is teaching. But you can’t get “behind” in Life of Fred by pausing to work on concepts. Especially since Life of Fred isn’t “graded” but “leveled.” You simply work on one book, and then the next, at your own pace.
  2. You CAN think up the practice problems but you don’t HAVE to. We live in the internet age! There are tons of websites that can help you with this. You can also order practice workbooks on a variety of specific tops, such as just multiplication, or only long division, or just fractions. I’ll share some of these at the end of this post.
  3. We aren’t FAILING if we stop to help our kids practice a concept. That is SUCCEEDING. Many children struggle in a larger classroom setting because they aren’t catching on as quickly as the other kids. One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling IS the ability to slow down and focus on a problem area so that your child can succeed in a subject instead of struggling.

So to break it down, Life of Fred and extra practice works like this:

  • If your child is getting it and doesn’t need to practice it more, keep going.
  • If your child is getting hung up on a certain step or process, stop and practice.

We don’t need to make it any harder than that. And yet, I often do.

But, you might ask, what about those children that seem to need to stop and work on things again and again, and again?

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

You stop, and you work on it, again, and again. Any time they need to. This is the point we are at with my 8th grader. We’ve been working in Life of Fred “Fractions” and “Decimals and Percents” for the past year and a half or so. She’s improving, but she’s still not strong enough to move on. She wants to move on, and I’ve been fighting the feeling that she NEEDS to move on because she’s in 8th grade. But I have had to remind myself lately that this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. And what she really needs is for me to slow down and stop pushing her, help her practice her weak spots, and make sure she’s strong enough to move on. Moving forward is moving forward, and it’s okay to be the tortoise and not the hare.

So take a breath. Slow down. Spend some time reinforcing the concepts that Life of Fred has been teaching, and then pick the book back up and continue on.

It will be okay. 

Now before I go, I promised a list of resources to help you practice math concepts. Here are a few good ones.

Online Resources:

  • Dad’s Worksheets – Multiplication, Long Division, Multiplying and Diving Fractions, and pretty much everything else.
  • Multiplication.com – This site also teaches the facts but the real draw here is that your middle schooler can play games to practice multiplying and dividing.
  • Math Playground – games for multiplication and division, fractions, decimals and percents, geometry, and pre-algebra
  • Long Division Worksheets – more long division worksheets grouped by difficulty
  • Math Goodies – Lessons and practice problems on a variety of challenging topics: circumference and area of circles, fractions and mixed numbers, decimals, etc.

Physical Materials:

Download and Print: 

You should definitely be able to find some good reinforcement work with some of those!

You may be wondering.. why use Life of Fred if you need to reinforce it with other materials anyway? That’s a good question, and to wrap up, I’d like to answer that.

There are two main reasons I like to use Life of Fred math, even though we may need to stop and do some extra practice that isn’t in the book. 

  1. You don’t always have to stop and do extra practice. If you get it, then you move on, and there’s no busy work. And I love that. (My kids don’t mind it either.)
  2. Mostly, I love how Life of Fred teaches the concepts from a living math perspective. Using (somewhat) realistic scenarios (after you overlook the fact that Fred is a five year old genius,) Life of Fred presents the math in ways that brings the math from abstract ideas to concrete concepts. It makes the math real.

Likely, we would have to slow down and do some extra practice regardless of which math text we were using. So we will continue, reinforcing Life of Fred where it is needed, and moving ahead where it isn’t. Slow and steady wins the race.

Image Credit: Public Domain

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