Monday, June 26, 2017

A loud, happy home

A loud, happy home is more peaceful than a quiet home where people are afraid to "disturb the peace."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy memories

 photo IMG_9707.jpgThink about what creates happy memories.

Something new and different. Time to play and relax. Smiles.

If you can think of what might mar a day like that, picture it as something to avoid. People can't be happy all the time every day, but the more you can allow happiness to flow, the more happiness you will see, and the more happy memories your children can have.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, June 23, 2017

Not just for kids!

I've been saying "why not?" more often and it feels good! I think it's rubbing off on my husband.

. . . .

Say "yes" to saying yes!
 photo Tree_Walk_NZ.jpg
Read the middle of that story with a sweet example:
(upper right)

photo by Hinano

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Options, doors, choices

"The idea of Unschooling is for parents to be the facilitators of options, the openers of doors, the creators of environments of freedom, and the guardians of choice, not the installers of roadblocks and barriers. Unschoolers are making the huge and wonderful choice to renounce our legal entitlements to be the authoritarian controllers of our children's lives, and instead choose to be their partners."
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ideas and trivia

Learning isn't in fancy books or computer games, it all happens in the ideas children have, in the trivial facts they fit together to come up with their view of the world—past present and future. You don't need a lesson or a unit to show a child what's wonderful about woodgrain, ice crystals on the windshield, or birdsongs. Five seconds worth of pointing and saying "Look, these trees were not native to North America" might possibly lead to an hour long discussion, or a lifelong fascination. Bringing something interesting home, browsing in an antique shop, listening to new music on instruments you've never heard—all those build neural pathways and give you a chance to be together in a special place.

Quote from the 1998 article "All Kinds of Homeschooling"
photo by Holly Dodd
of art by Holly Dodd
which happened to catch a rainbow

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Sometimes "bored" means tired,  photo SleepySealKarenJames.jpglow on energy, needing a break from conscious thought and responsibility. Arranging a nap, or putting on a soothing video (even for older kids—a romance instead of an action flick, or light drama instead of comedy), leaving a pillow on the couch and herding the rest of the family in other directions might result in an unplanned but needed nap.
photo by Karen James

Monday, June 19, 2017

Time is inconsistent

Time is theoretically some sort of mathematical constant, but parents know that a day can seem to last forever, and a season  photo DSC09926.jpgcan seem like a lifetime—then in retrospect seems to have zoomed by.

We can't live in "how will I survive this?" time nor can we live well by pining for that past we've already lived through. The best way to get through must be to do a better thing. If a conscious thought about time passage comes, think of what will be an improvement, and make that choice, however tiny, however slight.

Avoiding regret, contributing joy...
time will flow as it will,
but we can move closer to peace.
The writing here is new, but here is more on this perspective:
photo by Sandra Dodd, on a carousel in Austin

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How do you decide?

 photo DSC00142.jpgSo how do you choose? You decide where you want to go before you decide to turn left or right, don't you?

Just like that.

The way to know the right direction is to identify the wrong direction.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A better friend

"One of my epiphanies as a parent actually came when I realized I was not being as good a friend to my own kids as I was to my adult friends. Changing that made a world of difference."
—Lyla Wolfenstein
 photo DSC09883.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 16, 2017

Things and places

 photo DSC00136.jpgI like museums, but if you can see the whole world as a museum, your life will light up!

If you can see art in normal, functional things, your life will lighten up!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 15, 2017


 photo IMG_6069.jpeg"Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of 'side benefit'."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Much better!

There are no "violent video games." Kids are sitting on a couch in their parents' home pushing buttons on a remote control. That's not hurting them or anyone else. (Or young adults are home sitting and pushing buttons, instead of being out drinking or vandalizing something.)

In every single case of real-life violence anyone can think of, wouldn't it have been better if the perpetrator had been home on the couch than out causing trouble? :-)
photo by Sandra Dodd
of found-art at Lisa Jonick's house

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gradual and constant improvement

 photo MeganValnesEurope9.jpgThose who really want to unschool well should probably read something every day or three, from my site, or Joyce's or somewhere. Waiting until there's a problem and asking a narrow question will not be as good as gradually and constantly improving one's understanding to the point that there aren't many problems.
(Those who read here every day might be okay,
but you might want to follow the link, too.)
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, June 12, 2017

Social interactions

If you turn 180 degrees away from the myth and fantasy of how many friends kids have at school, and look at the real world in which you plan to live, things will look different.

Find people to visit, find places to go where other people will be. Begin to see people as people, rather than as pre-schoolers or school-age, or second grade. Just practicing that will take you MUCH nearer to peace about interactions with other people.
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quiet courage

Deb Lewis, in Becoming Courageous photo Braving the ropeswing.jpg

There was a study...that found babies could quickly learn the names of objects they found interesting but not of objects that didn’t interest them. And if they heard only the name of a boring object but could see an interesting object, they attached the name to the interesting thing.

Unschoolers have been thinking about the importance of interest to learning for years.
—Deb Lewis
photo by Abby Davis

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Embracing now

Embrace your present moment instead of yearning for what you don't have. I love the saying 'the grass is always greener where you water it.'
—Clare Kirkpatrick
 photo JanineDaviespheasant.jpg
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, June 9, 2017

Looking and learning

 photo TVRhiannonTheurer.jpg"For us, right where our kids were—loving music and TV and video games—was a great starting place for more. Going to concerts, finding out how different bands have influenced each other, figuring out how people have made the movies they've posted on YouTube, researching FAQs, talking with other gamers, looking up weapons that are used in the video games, playing the music we've heard in video games, pretending and finding new connections through our pretend games, talking through the logic of different strategies, looking up actors on IMDB—all of this keeps leading to more and more learning about how the world works, about how the creative process works."
—Amy Carpenter
photo by Rhiannon Theurer

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thinking for fun and profit

6/9/17 Thinking for fun and profit photo ReneeCabatic.jpgResearch means reading three or ten places, not just one. Don't consider all sources equal. If you think about it, try it out, and it helps, great! If it doesn't make sense or seems like superstition, be wary.
photo by Renee Cabatic

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Doing it

Until a person stops doing the things that keep unschooling from working, unschooling can't begin to work.

It seems simple to me. If you're trying to listen for a sound, you have to stop talking and be still.

Some people want to see unschooling while they're still teaching and putzing and assigning and requiring.

They have to stop that FIRST. And then they have to be still. And then they have to look at their child with new eyes.

If they don't, it won't happen.
photo by Sukayna

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Something extraordinary

New from Joyce Fetteroll:

It helped me think more clearly about unschooling when I realized unschooling isn’t something kids do. Unschooling is something parents do. Unschooling is *parents* creating a learning environment for kids to explore their interests in.
 photo IMG_3403.jpeg
Unschooled kids aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. They’re merely doing what comes naturally. They’re doing what all animals with lengthy childhoods do. They learn by doing what interests them in an environment that gives them opportunities to explore.

Unschooling is parents doing something extraordinary. It’s deliberately creating an environment where kids are supported in pursuing their interests.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, June 5, 2017

More time, less worry

11/14/13 More time photo IMG_5360.jpgThe more time parents spend with their children, doing interesting things together, the less they will worry about other things.

Marta saved the quote from a post on Always Learning.
For readers without access to that link, this is similar:
photo by Karen James, a few years ago, in a giant wheel in Japan

Friday, June 2, 2017

Helpful and respectful

The most to be accomplished from punishing or sending bored kids away is that the kids will learn not to go to that parent for advice and ideas.

Sometimes the real message behind "I'm bored" is "I'm little and feeling agitated and vaguely unhappy and I don't know what I can do to get over this uncomfortable feeling. What would you do if you were my age, in this house, on a day like this?"

I think that deserves a helpful, respectful response.
Lego art by Robbie and Robert Prieto (photo by Robert)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Peace and consideration

Megan Valnes wrote, at Always Learning:

Radical unschooling can bring about such a sense of peace with one's own self, that it can be poured into the being of another. I *enjoy* finding ways to make other people around me comfortable, including my children. I *want* the people who come to my home to enjoy their experience here. Sometimes, we have to bend a little for others, and isn't that empathy? To feel another's feeling and adjust your own reaction to fit their need? Keeping peace has become the number one priority in our home, so sometimes we have to get creative to make that happen! Consideration for others is key.
—Megan Valnes
photo by Megan Valnes

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Deep and wide and whole

Once someone wrote that her child was doing passive things, and had no interest in learning the basics. Amy Carpenter wrote something wonderful about active learning. This is just a bit of it. There's a link to the rest, below.

We recently took Fisher to a Blue Man Group concert—his first real "grown-up" show. Again, I could see all the connections being made—he watched how the instruments were being played, listened to how the sounds and the rhythms came together, jumped and bopped his head and let it all come together inside of him.  photo DSC09375.jpg His knowledge and awareness of music is growing deep and wide—it's not about "the basics," but about a gestalt, a holistic, systemic approach.

When you ask what component you are missing, this is what I keep coming up with. Are you looking in the wrong places? Are you looking for the basics when in fact, your son's knowledge and understanding is deep and wide and whole? What you see as "basic" are just a few Lego pieces that he'll fill in as he goes—but in looking for those, are you missing the incredibly large, whole creation that he's built up?

—Amy Carpenter
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Projects and interests

Make room in your heart and your life and your house for your child's interests. photo IMG_5080.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 29, 2017

Airy and bright

"Add light" can notch us up into the... lighter light.

It's not just sunshine that's light. There is firelight, candlelight, the glow of an iPad on a happy face, a flashlight under the covers, moonlight. photo HannahNorthForestBoy.jpg

There can also be light from within—bright eyes, and a warm smile.

Light as in not heavy or ponderous—lighten up in that way, too.

Light humor. A light step. Light music, with a light lunch.

I hope this will bring to light some ways for you to light up your own life and some of the lives around you.
photo by Hannah North

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Because they're people

Meredith Novak wrote:

"A lot of unschooling involves learning how to listen to one another, how to build up understanding and partnership in relationships, rather than tearing it down. Virtually all of the principles of how that works work with husbands as well as kids - not because men are babies, but because men and children are people, and we know a lot of things about how people learn and build relationships."
—Meredith (or Meredith's post)
photo by Brandie Hadfield

Friday, May 26, 2017

A challenge

"Unschooling becomes the ultimate
challenge against modern selfishness."
 photo IMG_5011.jpg
(From a longer commentary on Precisely How to Unschool)
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Safe and peaceful shelter

Shelter your kids from what you know is ugly. Shelter me too, if I'm around.

It's really okay to "cherry pick" in regard to the stories you let into your day. There's enough horror somewhere on the planet at any moment to make us all suicidal, so make it a habit NOT to collect or dwell on those stories. You have a responsibility to create as safe and peaceful a nest as you can for your own family.

Thank you, Heather Booth, for saving that and putting it where I could find it again.
art and photo by Sandra Dodd
(the switchplate near our kitchen sink)

This is a re-run of a post from 2012

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Learning and learning and...

I have always looked at learning. Learning was and is my goal—I keep learning, the kids are learning—and one of my principles, and one of my convictions. Children can learn from a rich, supportive environment.
old photo from carol singing at a nursing home with baby Marty and sleepy Kirby

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More doors

 photo DSC03933.jpgWe are here now.

We have been other places in the past.

We will be in surprising places in the future.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 22, 2017

Detox, gradually

For a child, deschooling is just the time to relax and get used to being home and with Mom—a child who’s been to school. A child who hasn’t been to school has no deschooling to do.  photo LisaJonickIvy.jpgBut for parents, deschooling is detoxification from a lifetime, and recovery from all of their schooling and whatever teaching they might have done. And it’s also the start of a gradual review of everything...

They don’t need to do it in advance, they don’t need to do it right at first. It’s so big, but it’s also gradual—it's just like living and breathing and eating and sleeping. Because every day a little more can come to the surface and be examined as it pops up.
The quote is from a recent podcast of Pam Laricchia interviewing me.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Peace inside

Peace, like learning, is largely internal.

Mother Teresa could have found a more peaceful place than Calcutta, but she was helping people find peace in non-peaceful surroundings.

 photo SukaynaWindows.jpg
photo by Sukayna

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Small but important

 photo Dinosaur_play_kitchen.jpg.jpgSize, age, volume, cost...
Value and priorities, for unschoolers, might begin to surprise you and continue to do so.

Don't judge importance too quickly.

Learning is everywhere.
photo by Lynda Rains

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be dignified

Be dignified, if you want your children to respect you and to grow up to be dignified themselves. You cannot maintain your dignity and also embrace INdignity. Breathe and think of your children's need for peace so that unschooling can thrive in your home.

Indignation is not a virtue.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Something different

Things you are used to are exotic to others. There are things you see every day that some people might never, ever see in person.
Lightning storms.
Cargo bikes.
Lifts / elevators.
Shave ice.

 photo DSC00621.jpg
Inventory your special local treasures!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Friends might be siblings or cousins or neighbors, or might be in other towns or states or countries.  photo IMG_0147.jpg Skype and gaming can help them stay in contact.

If parents can find some opportunities to host or to visit, they should remember that the children will be learning from and with each other, while they gain fond memories. Consider it an expense of unschooling, to visit friends.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweet healing

It will help you heal from your childhood, to be a good mother. Seeing your own child's bright eyes when you do something sweet can heal the child inside you who would have loved to have had someone do that to, for, with her, years ago. photo IMG_5889.jpeg
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The flow of history

 photo AmberIveyTypewriter.jpgWhat is new now might be an antique before your children are grown.

Try to ride the gentle flow of time and progress.
photo by Amber Ivey

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Travel interesting paths

Even in the long term, unschooling is not about the completion of a project at all. It’s about becoming the sort of people who see and  photo photo 4.jpgappreciate and trust that learning can happen. And who can travel with children, not just drag them along or push them along, but who can travel with children along those interesting paths together not until you get there, but indefinitely.

And for beginning unschoolers that sounds also a little esoteric, a little foofy. And not solid. They want to know what do I do when the kids wake up in the morning? So, the beginning information is very often, “What do I do?” But the information that will get people from the beginning to the intermediate is why. "Why do we do this?"
photo by Elise Lauterbach

The quote is from a new podcast of Pam Laricchia interviewing me.
I tweaked the quote just slightly, capitalizing "even"
and using "unschooling" rather than "it."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Quietly, just look

Look quietly.

At least once a day, just look quietly.
 photo ColleenOwl.jpg
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Do it!

"That's how unschooling works. By living life as if it were an adventure. As if you only had a limited amount of time with that child. Because that's the way it IS."  photo IMG_3597.jpeg
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How you see them

 photo NoorBrieJontry.jpg"Unschooling is all about how parents are seeing their kids."
—Jill Parmer
photo by Brie Jontry

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Aiming for learning

"Aiming for freedom can send radical unschoolers down some dangerous and goofy paths. Aiming for learning, exploration, discovery, peacefulness, and connectedness is much more helpful to radical unschooling."
~Joyce Fetteroll
 photo Casual3Prieto.jpg
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, May 8, 2017

Half a lifetime ago...

Marty was fourteen. By the time this is read, he might be older. But he was fourteen, it was Saturday, and I was playing something on Neopets.

Marty came in and said, "Mom, you know what I really need?" I didn't know. Had I been pressed to guess, I might've thought maybe he wanted the new Nickelback CD, or maybe a hamburger, or to win the lottery. Though his question had been more hypothetical, mine was real:


"A map of the New Mexico Territory when Arizona was a part of it."

I might never have guessed that one, so I'm glad he told me.

As I post this quote and photo, Marty is 28 now and still loves maps.

Read the rest of "What Marty Really Needed:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 7, 2017


You may pass through the same door again, but you will be different each time.

Where you are right now will never be exactly the same again.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Not everything, but something

"We can't magically afford everything, but very often we can afford something."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dividing is divisive

"I was thinking the other day about husbands and chores and how many people I've heard say that it shouldn't be their job to pick up after their husband. I never thought of picking up my husband's things as being my cleaning up after him—I've only thought of it as cleaning our house. Does it matter whose laundry or dishes they are? Does he shovel only his own side of the driveway and leave me to climb snowbanks to get to my side of the car? Dividing things yours-and-mine, even socks, in one's internal thoughts doesn't seem to add much happiness."
—Colleen Prieto
 photo janineRainbowHand.jpg

Chores, Serving others as a gift, tales of kids helping out voluntarily
(a chat transcript)
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Find your options

Pam Sorooshian wrote:
 photo DSC00086.jpg
Lots of people go through their whole lives never feeling like they had choices in many many areas of their lives in which they really did. Just like it is useful for unschoolers to drop school language (not use the terms teaching or lessons or curriculum to refer to the natural learning that happens in their families) it is useful to drop the use of "have to's" and replace it with an awareness of choices and options.

How we think—the language we use to think—about what we're doing, matters.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The world changes

Even without anyone trying, the world changes. Ironically, we try to make the world better, and on the same day can feel sad that things are different.

We change. Our children change. Trees and buildings and cars change.

Miss the past gracefully. Accept changes with sweetness.

That will make the world better.
 photo DSC02818.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd
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