Tilly (11) has always been something of a math wiz;despite our "late" start to school (usually around age 8) and our laid-back style. It hasn't hindered her a bit. In fact, she's the farthest ahead in math out of any of children.
We've run into a bit of a roadblock in the last little bit, however. It started when Tilly forgot her password on the computer. This year Adalia, Judah and Tilly have all been doing Teaching Textbooks 7 (Tilly actually started it last year). We gave it a week or so, and she couldn't remember it, so she started working though the lessons in the accompanying workbook. I, being busy as usual, forgot that she was working though the workbook instead of the computer (which grades her work). And so I didn't check it for weeks. And when I did, I found she was struggling with decimals. Since so long had elapsed (and she'd worked through so many lessons) I gave her the choice of redoing the Teaching Textbooks lessons our going through our Life of Fred Decimals book. She chose Fred.
I've been a fan of the Life of Fred books since a blog reader recommended them. My children love to read them. They fight over them at bedtime. They are strewn all around our house (despite us having a designated "Life of Fred shelf"). What my children don't do is work through the problems. And I have no qualms about this. After all, they are using a full math curriculum (Teaching Textbooks) and in the Life of Fred books they are learning when and how to apply the math to real-life situations. And they love it.
Now however, the time has come to use it as a textbook. And I love Fred all more for it. What do I love? Every lesson is presented in story form. Not only does this make it interesting, but it also means there is no need to "introduce story problems" or talk about how you would use this "in the real world". Because in Life of Fred, math is never done just for the sake of "doing math". At the end of each chapter there are 4-7 problems for the child to solve. Not 35. Because really, if the child can solve 5 problems correctly, then can probably do 35 as well. In the particular book we are working though now, ever five chapters there is a "bridge" with 10 problems. If the child gets 9 right, then can move on. If they get eight or fewer right, then they review the chapter, and try again (the books have five bridges per chapter).
Tilly and I each read the chapter and I watch Tilly work through the problems, checking to make sure she understands. And guess what? She's doing great and having no struggles with decimals.
Three cheers for Fred!