Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Changing the world

"It's human nature to justify and explain why loving parents did what they did to us. It's also human nature to try to do better for our children than our parents did for us. So those two things together create a tension (like cables on a bridge, holding it in place) that keeps the world from changing so quickly that it's unrecognizeable, but keeps it improving."
—Sandra Dodd

The quote was saved and shared by Susan May on facebook,
from a comment I wrote on a blogpost: "I turned out fine"
photo by Shonna Morgan

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ate, played, ate, played...

I think it should be “Woke up, got dressed, ate, played, ate, played, etc.”...

If this seems wrong, try this experiment: Keep your child from learning anything for a few days. Make sure that from the first waking moment there is nothing learned, no new material, no original thoughts to ponder, etc. The only problem is that you would have to keep the children from playing, talking, reading, cleaning or repairing anything, etc.
from something I wrote in 1992, newly here: SandraDodd.com/structure
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Joyous and hopeful

"I don't remember when I first read Sandra's writings but I do remember what I felt when I first read them. Hopeful, inspired, hungry....

"She has this big idea that the lives of children can be joyous and hopeful and that's a remarkable thing."
Request for Assistance 2017
photo by Janine Davies, this week
words by Deb Lewis, long ago

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Helping someone get going

If you're trying to help push someone's car and it's not going anywhere, sometimes pushing harder helps. Occasionally, though, you just have to  photo DSC09504.jpgsay, "Is it in neutral or not?" If they say, "No, it's in first gear, push harder," what are you going to say? You stop pushing and say "You have to put it in neutral first."

So before anyone can enjoy the benefits of unschooling they have to "put it in neutral." They have to take off the emergency brake. Otherwise the car won't move. Too many people say "We tried pushing the car, it didn't move, we bought a new one. Pushing cars never works."

An analogy from 1997, with notes on the "have to" parts here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flow far and near

 photo GailHigginsWaterfall.jpgLet your thoughts wander far and near. Let connections flow.
Nicest History and Review Ever
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All the sugar

If a child has "all the sugar he wants" when he's little, I'm pretty certain that his total will be smaller over the course of his life than someone who is deprived and measured and shamed.

 photo chase_at_the_beach.jpg
The quote is from SandraDodd.com/chats/bigbook/pages_162-174_food
but this might be a better next read: Natural Balance
photo by Celeste Burke

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Relationships are better

 photo MeganValnesEurope3.jpg "I wish I had known about unschooling from the start, and never done anything else.

"The net effect is (with unschooling), we're all happier. We're less stressed. We have our own schedule - or lack of schedule - not one imposed on us by school, or even homeschooling. The kids' relationship with their dad is better. MY relationship with their dad is better."
A now-anonymous part of the collection "If Only I'd Started Sooner..."
photo by Megan Valnes

Too far, too fast

 photo IMG_4871.jpgGradual is better, but when people jump, the reaction of the children to that is really a reaction to all of the controls from the past. And though it's difficult for the parents, it's a crop they planted.

Gradual is better. Pass on to anyone who listens to any of you about unschooling to change gradually and not to jump far.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 17, 2017

Learning and peace

If you know what you believe and what your goals are, then everyday life clears up and you see the benefits and the learning.

If convenience and organization are your primary goals,
          unschooling might not be viable for you.

If learning and peace in your family are primary goals,
          convenience will come secondary to it.

[Y]ou have to know what’s more important.

For me it was my child’s peace and comfort and learning, and everything has flowed from that.


Thanks to Nicole Novakovics for finding the quote.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A surprising thing

One of the many stories at "True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets":

Marty had been running around outside in the sun for a few hours, and I offered to take him to Ben & Jerry's. He said he wanted to go home and have real food, not ice cream, but thanks.

If you go where this was first posted in 2010,
there's another story below it: Real food
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 15, 2017

You can't see it all

 photo GailHigginsNature.jpgNo matter how far you look, you can't see it all.

No matter how hard you squint, you won't understand everything.

Rejoice in what you see and know.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, July 14, 2017

All the time

My response to this question, from 2009:
What resources do you use for your children’s “educations”? Feel free to comment on the word “education”.
We don’t “educate” our children. We help arrange so that they have so many learning opportunities they can’t possibly take advantage of them all. We have friends with interesting jobs and hobbies. We invite them over, and we visit them. We have a house full of books, music, games, toys, movies, art materials, plants, food and dress-up clothes. We don’t expect learning to happen in the house, nor in museums, but we know it happens everywhere. We don’t expect learning to happen during daylight hours or on weekdays. We know it happens all the time. So we don’t “use resources” except that we see every thing we discuss or see, smell, touch, hear or taste to be a resource. It’s not a word we use, because it’s all of life.

photo by Cá Maciel

Thursday, July 13, 2017

All the way

"Unschooling is at its core an understanding that learning is a part of being human. It is a recognition that school undermines that by saying that learning needs to be organised, structured and handed down. School argues that certain things are so hard to learn that they must be taught. If you unschool partway you are mixing up your messages. If you unschool math and science and reading but structure nutrition and media studies you are arguing that while a rich and engaging life may make the three "r"s obvious they won't help you to deal with the difficult studies of food and televisions and video games and computers."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Davis Harte

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Let go some more

"I have the attitude of hoping what they're doing is bringing them joy, whether that's watching TV, gaming, building a Lego city, or playing outdoors.

. . . .

"I let go, then let go some more, and in the process discovered a deeper connection with my kids than I knew was possible... and because of the inner work involved, a deeper connection with myself."
—Caren Knox
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shifting gears

 photo DSC09408.jpgDeschooling is like changing gears.

Go slowly. Go deliberately.

Don't goof around. Don't stall.

How can both be true?
The clutch and the gas.

coloring by Holly Dodd, years ago
light switch plate by Sandra, years ago

Monday, July 10, 2017

More and more joy

 photo TVSarahClark2.jpgSudden change confuses kids, they don't trust it, they assume it's temporary, and so their behavior reflects that. And it robs parents of the joy of gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more. You could have said "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, and the gradual change would have been a joy.
That was in a discussion and I used "joy" twice in too short a space,
so it's not my best writing, but joy IS what unschooling needs.

photo by Sarah Clark

Sunday, July 9, 2017

To see learning

 photo IMG_6966.jpegWhat we call "deschooling" is about more than school. It's de-tox and recovery from all the ideas that could come between parent and child, or between parent and peace, or that would keep the parent from being able to see learning in all of the fabric of life.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Just enough

It's good to be grateful for all the things we have.

Sometimes it can help to be grateful to have less, fewer, not as much, as might cause us difficulty. Be grateful for having just enough.
 photo IMG_7816.jpeg
photo by Chrissy Florence

(a rerun)

Friday, July 7, 2017

The clock is not hungry

 photo IMG_5046.jpgLittle children know nothing of the clock or "tomorrow" or "later."

It will help for parents to learn to live in the moment rather than by the clock, too. The clock is not sleepy. The clock is not hungry. Look at what your real, immediate child needs in the moment, and find ways to adjust your thinking so that it is not always too much for you. SOMEtimes maybe you can't. But if you never can feel the obligation or justification to take a breath and do what he wants instead of what you want, then school might be better for them than any sort of homeschooling—especially than unschooling, which is all about living in the immediate now.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 6, 2017

See, touch, hear

Let [babies] hear you speak, and find opportunities for them to hear others speak. Although there are justifications and theories about what babies like and respond to (high voices and sing-songy voices seem to appeal to babies), don't revert to a whole babytalk language with them. Some is fine, but talk to them about real things, too. Tell them what you're doing with them, and what they're seeing, when they're out and about. Don't quiz them, just talk. It's fine if they can't understand you for months and months. They'll be learning your tone and your moods and the speech patterns of the language even before they have vocabulary. You will be building a relationship that is not based on the meaning of the words, but on the sharing of the time and attention. You're paying attention to what the baby sees and touches and hears. The baby is paying attention to you.

If you can keep that up for eighteen years, you've got unschooling!

(little stories and nice comments about this)
photo by Sandra Dodd, up into a little tree I sat under, in a gully;
a banana blossom, in Maui!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An examined life

"I think to do unschooling well, it is a fundamental element to have an examined life. To be mindful of our choices and understand our thought processes."
—Rippy Dusseldorp
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Opportunities and possibilities

 photo MeganValnesEurope10.jpgWe do not "school," but, instead, we concentrate on living a life filled with opportunities and possibilities and experiences. Human children are born learners. Literally. What unschoolers aim for is keeping that love of learning and intense curiosity alive as the children grow up.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, July 3, 2017

Public pigeon

All around are stories and moments, props and scenes, entrances and exits. 7/3/17 Public pigeon photo JoIsaacTubePigeon.jpg
Take photos!

Jo took that photo on a continent other than where she lives, neither of which is where I live. Some few readers might be on yet a fourth continent, but will see this pigeon anyway.

I don't think the pigeon and the tube are a good mix, and he will not ride that subway.
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Live lightly

Sometime light comes from just lightening up.

Live lightly.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a young Holly, in a fleeting moment

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Here we are

 photo JanineDaviesMaypole.jpgIt's July! May is history. Those who are long grown probably never thought of a year like 2016 as "history," but now it surely is.

When children live and learn in the world, they will come to see themselves as part of that history more easily than if they were in school where history is in a certain book, in a particular room, at a scheduled hour.

We're moving through time like... we're moving through time as humans do. Looking back, looking forward, sometimes forgetting to notice and remember the here right now.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, June 30, 2017

In the world

I will know more later, but from my vantage point as someone with two "of age" boys and a girl about to turn eighteen, it seems that the adult products of unschooling turn out to be adult humans who were relatively unhampered as they learned and grew.  photo AlexPolikowskyFlower.jpg

Many things we have been told and assumed were natural human behavior seem now to be natural side effects of schooling.

School promises a child that if he's good, someday he can take his place in the world. They're still making him that promise when he's a young adult: "Someday…"

Unschooled children are in the world from an early age. When they reach adulthood they have a carriage and calm that I believe came from having being respected as people for many years. It's hard to describe, but impossible to ignore.

(the quote above is from page 264 of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Move on

 photo DSC04937.jpg"When you have a bad moment, admit it. Move on."
—Sarah Anderson-Thimmes
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trust learning

"Don’t trust children to be right. Trust children to be able to make a guess and then learn from what happens."
—Joyce Fetteroll
 photo MeganValnesEurope12.jpg
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Investing in the future

"Find as many ways as you can to fill your daughter's cup. Surprise her one day with some new creation for her dolls. Set them up in an interesting scenario, and wait until she finds them. Sit down and play with them with her. Grab a Kleenex. Make a skirt. Build a house out of a cardboard box. Help her decorate it. Buy a second hand one, and let her find it one morning. Get really creative and enjoy this time with your daughter.

"More and more I'm discovering it's not so much about giving, as it is about building, and investing. You are setting the foundation for your daughter's future interactions with the people she will come to hold dear..."
—Karen James

Read about Karen's Barbies, memories, and ideas here:
photo by Karen James

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: SandraDodd.com/being/with
photo by Karen James, a few years ago, in a giant wheel in Japan

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