Monday, March 19, 2018


When I was in elementary school, the lowest marks I got were C's (average) in conduct, or deportment. I talked too much. Way more than once I was shushed in class with the admonition, "You're not here to socialize."
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Making things disappear

Unschool as well as you can, and lots of the side questions disappear.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, March 17, 2018

How will you be?

How will you be, as a parent, and why? What's keeping you from being the way you want to be?
photo by Bea Mantovani

Friday, March 16, 2018


"Create a rich environment.
Support and feed their interests.
Connect with them."

That is what Joyce Fetteroll said my whole site could have said—one page, simple—if natural learning were easy to trust.

Read the rest:
photo by Karen James

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Playing that game

A parent with a child who loves a video game should look at what is wonderful about that. He is physically able to operate the controller or whatever it is (keyboard, wii, touch screen). He is bright enough to figure out at least part of a game that has aspects that would challenge any player. He has found something that sparks his joy or curiosity. He is playing that game, rather than doing something sad or destructive or negative.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Beatiful moments of stillness and calm are around us all the time. Sometimes we notice.
Look Quietly
photo by Annie Regan, who wrote "Possibly my favourite spot in the whole world.
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, just on sunrise in this photo"

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


"Radical" means from the center, from the source, outward.

From the roots to the tips
from the roots of hair to the tips
or the roots of a tree to the end of each leaf
or from the roots of a belief to the end of each action.
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be nice, often

Be as nice to your child as you can be, as often as you can be.
Partnerships and Teams in the Family
photo by Amber Ivey

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Conscious and continuous

Have a conscious, continuous and mindful partnership with your child.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The universe in a drop of water

Universe-in-a-Drop-of-Water Method:

Can one intense interest come to represent or lead to all others? A mom once complained that her son was interested in nothing but World War II. There are college professors and historians who are interested in nothing but World War II. It can become a life’s work. But even a passing interest can touch just about everything—geography, politics, the history and current events of Europe and parts of the Pacific, social history of the 20th century in the United States, military technology, tactics, recruitment and propaganda, poster art/production/distribution, advances in communications, transport of troops and food and supplies, espionage, prejudices, interment camps, segregation, patriotism, music, uniforms, insignia, religion....

from "Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers"
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, March 9, 2018

Worth the work

Pam Sorooshian, in 2007:

I never "got it" about chores until it was really almost too late. My own issues about housework, etc., kept me from being able to embrace whole-heartedly the idea that any kid would ever actually step up and help out without it being required.

I see a HUGE difference, now, though, since I stopped demanding housework a few years ago.
. . . .
What I regret is that I didn't figure out ways to do stuff like this when the kids were younger. I wish I'd made housework entirely optional, but then made it enticing for them to do it with me or with each other, so that they'd have still helped out, but without the tone of it being demanded. These days, when one of my daughters and I wash dishes together, it is fun, because they really know that they have a choice, that I won't be annoyed if they turn me down, so no resentment on their part. Very very worth the extra work I had and often still have to do.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Some of all

School calls a small sliver of the world "all", and we call all of life's learning "some".
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Laughter and joy

Cass Kotrba wrote:
"It is your responsibility to keep your children safe but that doesn't mean you are a prison guard. Lighten up and try to be fun! Try to think of fun ways to break things up when or before tensions start to rise. Find things to laugh together about. Watch comedies. Find out what your kids think is funny and laugh with them. Let the sound of their laughter resonate deep down into your soul. Find the joy and fuel it."
—Cass Kotrba
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Longterm safety and happiness

"I can spend my energy on limiting my child's world so that he will be safe and happy or I can spend my energy on helping my child learn the skills to navigate our world himself so that he will be safe and happy. I think the latter has a better chance of success in the long term."
—Eva Witsel
photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, March 5, 2018

Your unique kids

It helps unschooling and mindful parenting to be aware of your kids and their unique needs rather than treating them as generic kids with all the worst possible traits.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Karen James

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Open and supportive

Three sentences pulled from longer writing by Joyce Fetteroll:

Mom can hold strong beliefs AND open the world to her kids so they feel free and supported in deciding what's right for them—even if it's counter to what mom believes.

*What* that belief is doesn't matter. The belief could be war is evil. The belief could be school is bad. Let's say you believe school is toxic. Many people here would agree with you....

Don't stack the deck so that your beliefs drown out anything else they might want to explore.
—Joyce Fetteroll

What's above is slightly misquoted, but the meaning is the same.
Go to to see what I changed, and those words in context.
Similar title: Open and sensible
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Oops. Sorry.

I missed a proper post, because Weird Al and Lin-Manuel Miranda were on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, because Weird Al has done a Hamilton polka medley. When Keith told me to turn it on and watch it, my TV hardly worked, so after it was over I looked into ordering another (cheap table-top flat-screen with DVD player). Then I cleaned the kitchen a bit and consolidated the dregs of four gallons of glue for Devyn's slime laboratory, so I ordered more glue, too. Midnight passed.

As consolation for something actually inspiring, here are things relating to my evening's excitement.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy and humming

The parents don't need to know what the child is learning in order for learning to be happening.

If a child is bored and agitated, she's not learning. If she's happy and smiling and humming and engaged with what she's thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching or smelling, then she's learning.

Sandra Dodd, on the Always Learning discussion September 2012
photo by Sandra Dodd

This is a re-run from December 28, 2012.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Find the fun

Find the fun and see the beauty.
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guidance means...

Robyn Coburn wrote:
Every time you feel the urge to control a choice, you can ask yourself "why?" and begin to question the assumptions (or fears) about children, parenting, learning and living joyfully that you are holding on to.

Intentions matter. Guidance offered from the place of partnership and Trust has a different feeling, avoids rebellion, and is just plain less focused on the trivial. Guidance means optional acceptance instead of mandatory compliance. Guidance means parents being safety nets, not trap doors or examiners. Guidance facilitates mindfulness. Directives shut it down, and may even foster resentment instead.
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Many small choices

If the mom can practice and appreciate making many small choices, she can more calmly accept changes and experimentation and what might seem inconstant or random in the child’s choices. He might want to try things. He might not be in an adventurous season and might want the same thing every day for a year. But he will be learning, if he’s allowed to feel his own body’s responses without someone telling him what he is feeling or should be feeling.
photo by Kirsten Cordero

Monday, February 26, 2018

Living lightly

Living lightly is part of the joy of unschooling.
Airy and bright
photo by Kirby Dodd

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Be positively Positive!

Negativity is contagious and cancels out joy and hope. Some people are just casually negative without realizing it. Their first response to anything is likely to be derisive. It's like a disease, and they infect their friends and relatives. Eye rolling, tongue-clucking, dramatic sighs... It's emotional littering. Save them for emergencies.
Seeing and Avoiding Negativity
photo by Shonna Morgan

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Their own new eyes

Let your children make discoveries with their own new eyes. Don't show-and-tell them into a helpless stupor. Be with them, pay attention

to what they're seeing for the first time and be poised to explain if they ask, or point out something interesting if they miss it, but try to learn to be patient and open to their first observations and thoughts. Like bubbles, or dandelion puffs, they are beautiful and fragile and if you even blow on it too hard, it will never be there again.

Practice being. Practice waiting. Practice watching.

Let them experience the world with you nearby keeping them safe and supported.

from page 124, "Experiences," in The Big Book of Unschooling
which leads to
photo by Chrissy Florence

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What a child needs

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:
It's the essence of every story: The protagonist has a need. He finds ways around what stands between him and what he needs.

Rather than being an obstacle, be his partner in meeting his needs. Be the one keeping an eye on the needs of those around him as you find respectful, safe, doable ways for him to meet his needs. Be the one manipulating the environment so he's not in a situation he can't handle yet.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Ashlee Dodd, of Marty and Ivan

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A warm moment

There are many things we can't control, and very few we can.

Your children think thoughts that you can't know. They might seem to be only sitting, only waiting, only basking in the sun, or zoned out, but they are living their lives, even if it's hard for you to see it.

Appreciate warm, quiet moments.
photo by Joyce Fetteroll, in New Mexico
She wrote, "Lizard chilling. Or warming. As lizards tend to do."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

More happy childhood

There are things I would love to go back and redo, but though I'm not completely satisfied, I'm not ashamed either. When I said "okay" to Kirby I was saying okay
to the little Sandra inside me who might otherwise have built up some jealous resentment about this new kid getting to do things I never got to do. It was healing to imagine that if my mom had been fortunate enough to have other influences and better circumstances maybe she would have said yes to me more often too.

... By sharing my children's lives, there has been more happy childhood in my own life.
photo by Sandra Dodd

This is a repeat from February 2012, because midnight arrived and
for me and Cinderella, that's a serious deadline.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Myths and alarm clocks

A myth and boogie-man:

"If children are allowed sleep as late as they want, they'll never be able to get up and go to work."
I have three children (at this writing 16, 19 and 21), all of whom have had jobs, none of whom has failed to learn to use an alarm clock and good judgment, none of whom has ever been let go from a job, all of whom have been free to sleep or get up for 16 years or more (depending). If there were no other refutation of the myth above than this, it would be sufficient.

It's also worth noting that none of those jobs have been "regular hours." Shifts have started as early as 6:30 a.m. and ended as late as 3:00 a.m. Good thing they were well prepared by years of irregular sleep!
That was written ten years ago, so my "children" this month are are 26, 28 and 31.
They have had even MORE jobs with odd hours, and sometimes "normal" hours.
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Turning down sweets

"I have many, many tales of my four unschooled kids turning down sweets or having a cookie in one hand and an apple in the other..."
—Emily Strength
Read two of those stories here:
and accounts by other parents, too.
photo by Margie Rapp

Friday, February 16, 2018


Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

A computer, a hand held game, an iPod are doors that lead to a vast world of experiences. Just as your front door leads to a vast world of many different things you can do. Would you refer to all the things your family does by going through your front door—walks, shopping, visiting friends. mowing the lawn, vacations—as "door stuff"?

Stop looking at the door. See the richness that exists beyond the door.

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd
"Screendoors" is a joke. Take it lightly.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What do you hope for?

Deb Lewis wrote:

A principle internally motivates you to do the things that seem good and right. People develop principles by living with people with principles and seeing the real benefits of such a life.

A rule externally compels you, through force, threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed good or right.

People follow or break rules.

Which is the hope most parents have for their kids? Do they hope their kids will comply with and follow rules, or do they hope their kids will live their lives making choices that are good and right?
—Deb Lewis
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Really look

Colleen Prieto wrote:
Look at your kids. Really look at them and see who *they* are and not who you want them to be. Get to know them. Be nice to them. Nicer than nice. Be kind to them. Love them and kiss them and hug them and Be with them. Play with them. Listen to them.
Talk with them, not to them. Be patient and calm.

Love your spouse or partner, if you have one. Be kind and nice and patient with your spouse or partner too. Love them and hug them and see who they really are without trying to make them who you want them to be.
—Colleen Prieto

Practice watching
photo by Chrissy Florence

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tone matters

When you say something to your child, remember to feel it and believe it, or you'll be sending mixed messages, and the tone might be louder than the words. And with babies and toddlers, the tone might be the entirety of the communication.
The quote is from page 208 of The Big Book of Unschooling,
which references this
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 12, 2018

A light on your path

"Notice what excites & inspires you, because your excitement is a light in the right direction on your path of life."
—Holly Dodd
photo by Sandra, of shields at Marty Dodd's house

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Incremental change

Change takes time. Don't send the bill. Don't "be nice" for two months and then say "I was nice and you weren't any nicer to me!" Be nice because being nice is better than not being nice. Do it for yourself and your children.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Trust; it's true

Caren Knox wrote:

Trust is a vital foundation to building an unschooling home. If kids can't trust that what their parents are saying is true, their foundation is shaky, perilous.
That affects their ability to learn, and harms the relationship they have with the world (and their parents).

Why bring a negative force into the home?

If you're used to sarcasm and other lying, it might take practice to learn to speak honestly. It can feel vulnerable and risky. It is worth it. You'll soon be able to feel if what you are about to say is true - really true - and you'll develop the ability to stop, breathe, and change what you're saying if needed.
—Caren Knox

Deposit the good stuff.
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Friday, February 9, 2018

A kinder person

Learning to live better with children makes one a better person. Being patient with a child creates more patience. Being kind to a child makes one a kinder person.
Simply put...
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Where the magic is

"It's easy to see problems. It's easy to get down and be cranky. Anyone can do that. But to find the laughter, the beauty, the pathway to connection and possibilities—that's where the magic is. It requires you to look at things from different angles."
—Cass Kotrba
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sufficient, efficient

See if you have a dial in your mind that says "everything" at one extreme and "nothing" at the other. It's impossible for anyone to do everything or nothing. Maybe label it "too much" and "not enough" instead, and try for the midpoint. Replace any on/off switches in your mind with slide bars or dimmers!"
Photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Icons and patterns

Design and symbolism will be a bigger deal than usual for a while, thanks to the Winter Olympics. There will be sportswear design, hairstyles, colors, flags, anthems, medals.

Look around at what is normal for you, and at what represents your own town, county, country, continent. See what is exotic, when you're away from home—things those distant locals don't notice, and don't know are not universal. To appreciate the beauty in your everyday world, it can help to see it through someone else's eyes.
photo by Holly Dodd, of the mountains, sunshine and flags
we see every day in Albuquerque

Monday, February 5, 2018


Don't miss too many moments of your life. They go by.

A bad moment can be followed by a new, improved, better moment.
photo by Karen James

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The value of optimism

"Choose to look at the beauty around you and to see life and people through loving eyes."
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Free to play

Sylvia Woodman said:

"I love the flexibility. The ability that we could travel whenever we want. Like we’re not tied to the school system. I love the fact that I can play. That I am free to play just as much as my kids are free to play. I like to do a lot of cooking. I like to experiment with a lot of recipes. We like to invite a lot of people over. We can have parties. We can play games. We don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. We’re free to not only do what’s right for us but what makes us happy. And I feel like by unschooling that provides a really nice framework for that to happen."
—Sylvia Woodman,
Sylvia Woodman, interviewed by Pam Laricchia
photo by Megan Valnes, in Italy

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mysterious used-to-be

Not all history is in books or in words.

You will see things in the world that don't come with explanations.

There is beauty in the mysterious used-to-be.
Things and places
photo by Ester Siroky, in Portugal

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Big moon

People read this at different times and places on five or six continents. We can all see the same moon, though!

Things are different in every family, but we can still move toward the same principles, and peace, and light.
Light on light
photo by Jo Isaac, Victoria, Austraila

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Nature, and people, and cats

What is natural? It can be hard to know, but interesting to consider.

How would people live "in the wild"? They would form groups, find shelter and food, and create a hierarchy. Other details vary. They would become us. But what about learning, and living, in more natural ways? It's fun to think about.

What's natural for housecats? Many are native-born human companions. Others might look for people to take them in, and feed them and pet them and share their shelters, or at least their barns or porches.

What's natural?
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sweet dreams

Sleep is crucial and peace is good.

We don't know what experiences and ideas our children are processing, but the more often they go to sleep gently and wake up sweetly, the better their lives will be.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, January 29, 2018

Something old, something new...

Something old, something new;
Something borrowed, something blue.

That's traditional advice for a bride, to create good luck by what she wears to the wedding.

For those in places where that little verse is foreign, then it's history, and cultural trivia.

As an unschooling tool it could be a checklist of things to look for, when you go for a walk, or see a video, or a painting, or while folding the laundry.
photo by Sandra Dodd (in Corrales, New Mexico)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Surprise us!

Breathe and smile more than others expect you to.
photo by Holly Dodd
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