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."

SandraDodd.com/betterpartner (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: SandraDodd.com/martymap
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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Own the good stuff

If parents retain ownership of their children's learning,
the children cannot learn on their own.

What I've just said above is / will be / has been misinterpreted to mean the parents should throw up their hands, back off, and not say a word. That's not what I mean at all. Possibly the very same interactions can occur, but the balance of power and responsibility can change by changing the phrasing and definitions. photo wheelbJanine2.jpg

Own joy management, or trust-earning or something.
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, May 1, 2017

Peace and joy

Bring her home, surround her with peace and joy. Don't fight with her. Just love her. There is much more at stake here than her "education."
—Pamela Corkey
 photo IMG_2738.jpeg
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trust and respect

Trust and respect go together. Someone who is trustworthy will be respected.  photo NoNuisanceJulieD.jpg
photo by Julie D.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Casual and alert

 photo Casual2Prieto.jpgCasual and alert are better than intense and hurried.
Time and money (chat transcript)
photo by Colleen Prieto, whose son loves birds and graveyards

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sharper tools

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:
The basic idea of unschooling is that we learn what we need by using it. And that's exactly how kids learn to speak English. Toddlers aren't trying to learn English. They're using a tool (English) to get what they want: which might be juice or a hug or picked up to see better. The English tool is more efficient than other tools they've been using: pointing or crying or wishing. And because English is more efficient, they use it more. And because they use it more, the get better at it. Kids learn English (and everything else) as a *side effect* of living and pursuing what they enjoy.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Brave and calm

Be brave,

     be calm,

          be happy.
4/26/17  Strong and calm photo DSC01462.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sparkly and flowing

 photo MariaWongCreek.jpgSometimes it's fun to try to think with fewer words.

Unschoolers can move toward "better" by making better choices.

Imagine a way to be. What about clean, moving water?

When you choose activities, responses, thoughts and moods could you choose things more sparkly and flowing?
photo by Maria Wong

Monday, April 24, 2017

Adult things

 photo grapesDonnAnderson.jpgKids blossom and get bigger from doing adult things because they want to, instead of kid-things they have to do because they're small.
photo by Donna Anderson

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nurture and share

 photo DSC03648.jpg
Be the kind of person you want your child to be.

Nurture your own curiosity and joy.

Find gratitude and abundance in your life.

Explore. Make connections, on your own.

Share those with your children when they're interesting.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, April 22, 2017

If you can...

Sometimes the thing to do is just to go to sleep.

photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, April 21, 2017

The best answers

 photo Straw bale target.jpgIt's hard to explain unschooling, partly because the best answers are "it depends," followed by questions for the parents to consider while they're making their decisions.

. . . .

Getting unschooling is a process. There will be more to get once you're comfortable with the new understandings and behaviors.
photo by Abby Davis

Thursday, April 20, 2017


"Radical" means from the roots—radiating from the source. The knowledge that learning is natural to humans can radiate forth from that point in every direction.

 photo DSC00496.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Live in the learning

"Child-led, 'wait til they ask" isn't the way radical unschooling works. It's a way for unschooling to fail, if the parents are twiddling their thumbs waiting for the child to lead, or ask to learn something.
photo by Karen James, of stained glass by Ethan James

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Learning about learning

For the parents, deschooling is learning about learning. photo ColleenPrietoWinterBirds.jpg
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, April 17, 2017

Whole, thinking, seeing

 photo foodJanetRohdeBuzit2.jpgChildren have been whole, thinking, seeing beings since the day they were born. Assisting them to learn and to find their strengths and to explore the world and its possibilities is preparing them for their unseen futures.
Mommy-labs Interview, October 2012
("Children" replaces "they," to allow the quote to make sense out of context.)

photo by Janet Rohde Buzit

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Finding art

 photo Easter_Eggs.jpgIt's fun to be on the lookout for art in unexpected places. Sometimes people purposely make art and hide it, for kids to find.

Find art wherever you are.
photo by Hinano

Friday, April 14, 2017

"I hope you don't mind"

Dylan isn't twelve anymore; Deb Lewis still writes beautifully.

Yesterday was David's birthday and we had guests. I left dishes in the sink when I went to bed. I got up early with the dogs but then went back to bed. When I got up later Dylan had done the dishes. He said " I know you really like to do the dishes mom, so I hope you don't mind, but I just felt like doing them."
 photo JanineCatsWater.jpg
Dylan is twelve.

I *know* living life joyfully makes a difference in the way our kids see us and the way they see the little things that make life better.
—Deb Lewis

photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Grand and simple

Of natural learning, Ren Allen wrote:

By choosing to unschool, I am giving my children the ability simply to enjoy the
 photo playingTogether.jpgjourney rather than to seek some unknown destination that falsely promises an end product. My children’s lives are their own; their dreams and passions belong to them, and in gathering the bits that matter, they are showing me that natural learning is grand and simple all at once. The light that emanates from them awes me to silence.
—Ren Allen

photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

High horse on holy ground

One day Colton and Bud returned from the library, thrilled with what they had found. A video copy of "Godzilla!" I snorted derisively and suggested that our time would be better spent with a book. I was ignored. They made some popcorn and started the movie. I sat with them on the couch, or to be more accurate, on my moral high horse....

A voice whispered in my ear: Look at them, Carol. Just LOOK at them! .... They were totally connected to each other through their movie experience, and it was a joy to watch. I knew that they were making a memory together....

We have laughed and cried together as we have watched, and we have wondered and marveled.... And when I watch my husband and son stomping around the house like Godzilla as they destroy Tokyo, I know that I am standing on holy ground.

The rest is worth reading, and there's a story by Deb Lewis, too:
photo borrowed from 60 Years of Godzilla

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The light dawned

It was the issue of food that provided the epiphany for me to "get" what unschooling is about. When I realized that there are foods out there that make me gag, and I wouldn't want to have to finish them (or even put a bite in my mouth) the light dawned. Why do it to kids, if there's something that I refuse to eat?
—Heidi C.
 photo foodJennyBilderback.jpg
photo by Jenny Bilderback

Monday, April 10, 2017


"I think trying to see the world through young kids' eyes can help us move toward wonderment."
—Chris Sanders
 photo grapesJoIsaac.jpg
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Building an unschooling nest

 photo foodJenniferSmith.jpg"Building an unschooling nest" is a phrase that has come to mean maintaining a safe, rich, happy environment in which learning cannot help but happen.

What will help to create an environment in which unschooling can flourish? For children to learn from the world around them, the world around them should be merrily available, musically and colorfully accessible, it should feel good and taste good. They should have safety and choices and smiles and laughter.

There is some physicality to the "nest," but much of it is constructed and held together by love, attitudes and relationships. Shared memories and plans, family jokes, songs and stories shared and discussed, all those strengthen the nest.

Quote from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 125
photo by Jennifer Smith

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Inside and outside

 photo DSC00609.jpgI have some good plants in my house. Outside it can be too harsh for most plants to survive, but indoors is safer.

The photo was taken far from New Mexico, but still shows some life inside, and some less-lively structure outside.

Two ideas: Sitting around watching plants grow isn't as good as some other things you could do, and don't be too prejudiced against being inside!
photo by Sandra Dodd
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