Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Find or do things to make people smile.

Smile, when you can, at what people are doing.
 photo Happiness stacking - eating candy floss while waiting for the parade wearing beautiful make up and a Belle dress.jpg
photo by Eva Witsel

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


It is ironic when someone shouts "QUIET!"

Hold that image, as a distant cartoon, and let it dissipate.
 photo IMG_5335.jpg
Just for a day or two, try to speak less, and more softly. If you're already a quiet person, perhaps you can use the time to notice and appreciate that, about yourself. For the quick and too-loud among us, let's try to hear ourselves, and to raise the average of useful speech by letting go of some of the superfluous verbiage.
photo by Charles Lagace,
of the inside of an iglu (inukitut for house)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Water, light, noise and peace

No doubt stone-age children played with toy spears and bows and arrows and atlatls and slings. Surely bronze- and iron-age children played with toy swords. Part of learning about culture and tools and technology, for children, is playing.

Children play with toy guns. Sometimes those guns squirt water, or fire little Star Trek phaser disks, or they shoot light. Some of them make noise.

There is no young-child gun play so violent as a mother saying "NO. I said NO!" to a young child who has dared to pick up a friend's toy gun.

page 229 of The Big Book of Unschooling,
which leads to
photo by Sandra Dodd, of little Marty, cowboy gun in sword belt

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Feeling peace

If we raise the level of peace our children expect, they will know what peace feels like.

Adults need to know what peace feels like too, though, and some feel it for the first time when they really start to understand unschooling.

 photo IMG_3380.jpg
photo by Andrea Justice

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fear and other hurdles

In an interview, I was asked "What have you found to be the biggest hurdle that new unschoolers face?"

My response was:

Fear, I guess, would be the answer. But different families have different fears, so it’s a hard question. Some are ready to jump away from schooling, so that’s kind of easy.

Sometimes the parents don’t agree, and that’s always a hurdle. I use the analogy of buying a yacht. It’s a big decision, and one parent can’t do it without the other agreeing. I can’t decide to own a yacht and tell my husband to just deal with it. Maybe I *could,* but would end up losing the yacht AND the husband. It’s a theoretical and a maybe, because I couldn’t even buy a car without my husband’s signature, as I don’t have my own income these days.

One secondary hurdle is when a parent feels overconfident, and becomes unwilling to continue to learn. Some unschoolers get on an odd trajectory and won’t accept help, and won’t check back for advice until they’ve made quite a mess. It’s helpful to stay in contact with other unschoolers, both in person if possible, and in writing.

Interview at Feather and Nest, November 2010
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trusting and close

 photo Monkey_Platter.jpgThe urge to control anything, whether it's food or learning or exactly how people sit or exactly what people wear, is bad for the relationship between the parent and the child. Anything that is bad for the relationship is bad for learning, because unschooling is built very largely on a trusting relationship and a close relationship.

Transcribed and saved by Amber Ivey, from
photo by Hinano

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Enough or not; too much or not

I think there should be 180 great days a year—parents should feel enough pressure that they have as many shiny show-off days as there would be school days. And that leaves 185-186 days per year for "doing nothing."

I don't think anyone should count, but if they feel like they're in a frenzy of doing too much, then that's too much. And if the mom is feeling like maybe she should do more, then she should do more.

Enough "great" that the mom feels like she provided greatness. And enough happy that the kid felt like it was good, too.

The "180" number came from the number of school days
required by the State of New Mexico. YMMV.
photo by Sandra Dodd
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