Sunday, November 18, 2018


Pay attention to your child and help him do/find/see/experience things that will interest him. Help him be his best self as often as you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Art Supplies

Deschooling usually involves seeing everything in a new light, or re-naming things we see all the time. If someone thinks of "art" as a school course or in "an art room," breathe that away; shake that off.

If you think of "real art" as oil paintings and marble sculpture, expand your definition.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tweak it.

See how it's going at your house.

Tweak it.

Move toward a good relationship, move toward being more present, and then you start to understand.
Extras with Sandra Dodd (at 2:45 on the countdown)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Looking, reading and logic

To say peace doesn't need quiet doesn't mean that all noise is peace. Quite a bit of understanding unschooling is looking at all your thoughts, and the things you read, with as much logic as you can gather up.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Step in, play around

Don't let unschooling disturb the peace.

Unschooling can bring more peace, but step in gradually, and play around in it before you go into the deep waters.

For new unschoolers:

Not so new? Here:

photo by Doug James

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Real relationships

There are multiple facets that make unschooling work best. The two biggest facets that go hand in hand for me are the absence of school and school think, combined with real working relationships with my kids. People can go and do one or the other and not let them overflow into each other, but it won't be as bright and sparkly.

Relationships and wholeness
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, November 12, 2018

Happily and successfully

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Unschooling happily and successfully requires clear thinking.
. . . .
Unschooling well requires understanding the underlying philosophy of how children learn, and the principles that guide us in our everyday lives arise from that philosophy. It isn't some new kind of parenting technique that can be observed and applied without understanding.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Grabbing hold and changing

"When I stumbled across unschooling I grabbed hold. I read and I tried things and I moved further away from the childhood I had known to the parenthood I wanted to know."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Sandra Dodd

Better, happier, more peaceful

"Are there ways of living with people that can make life better, happier, more peaceful? Are there ways of living that can make life worse? Doesn't it make sense to choose to live together in a way that will make life better?"
—Deb Lewis
photo by Amber Ivey

Friday, November 9, 2018

Surprising beauty

Why travel to an art museum when a bus stop can do this?

But it won't do it all day, or every day. Light, projections, shadows, are fleeting, and people aren't always there to see them.

Art museums are good, but art is unfolding all around us.
photo by Elaine Cambridge

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Memories and peace

Sometimes a peaceful time is still confusing and noisy. Experiences and perceptions differ, and your memory might not match your child's about one thing or another. Something one found stressful might be a memory of joy for another.

Do your best to find the peace and joy.

Charlie eats an apple
A Loud Peaceful Home
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A fun, new song

The separation of learning and fun is the only thing that keeps learning from BEING fun.

Perhaps this will be seen as preaching to the choir, but I prefer to think of it as teaching a new song to an experienced, enthusiastic choir.

Living becomes learning
photo by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Patterns and games

Many games involve patterns of colors or numbers. Think of that, even when you play games like Rummy or Poker.
Tile games and matching games are easy to see. Many single-player games with cards or moving pieces on a grid to let all the cars move, or match-three games, are all about seeing patterns, one step at a time.

Having read that far, I hope you thought of one or all of these, too:
Patterns galore. Play with them.

Seeing patterns
photo by Sandra Dodd, of some old-style cards
in the barracks at Fort Stanton, now a museum

Monday, November 5, 2018

The air is sweet

Sometimes the air is sweet.

A change in the temperature, time outside after much inside, being in a more rural place than usual, new rain—these things, and others, can make air seem especially rich and good.

Being open to noticing the air can make life rich and good.
photo by Jo Isaac

Saturday, November 3, 2018

In the old days...

Sometimes when I see something unusual, rare, or notice something from a special angle, I think of how important an ability to draw was before there were cameras. Someone who didn't have a chance to draw, or couldn't draw from memory, wouldn't be able to share with others except with words. I like words, but I wouldn't be able to describe these chimneys, which I got to see from the roof of East Barsham Manor, in Norfolk.

Weird that I saw them.
Nice that I had a camera.
The builders had no idea, in 1620, that a camera would ever come along.

Abundant Beauty
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 2, 2018

Something changes everything

"I'd never heard a baby's first laugh. Hearing the sound of that laugh and seeing the joy in my boy's being opened up my whole world at that moment. I remember the room getting brighter, lighter, softer."
—Karen James

You will want to read the rest, I think:
photo by Karen James

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Creating more peace

I'm not interested in helping people battle or fight or struggle. I want to help them find joy, gratitude, abundance and peace.

Fighting a lack of peace isn't creating more peace.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Monstrous fun

Dress-up and make-believe help children learn. Assisting children in their dress-up gives parents opportunities to be skillful and chillful.

Relax and play!
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The history of tomorrow

Emily Strength wrote:

"The pop culture of today is the history of tomorrow."

I responded:

This is true of music, clothing, food, hairstyles, slang, cars, kitchen design, dishes, shoes, musical instruments...
. . . .
Find this river of newness becoming history that's flowing right around and through us all, and learn to ride it openly and happily if you can!

I left some out, above. So history goes.
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, October 29, 2018

Everything else

A mom once expressed excitement about strewing books. I wrote and said strewing books wasn't the best way to strew. She asked "What else is there to strew?"

I wrote:
         "Everything else."
And then I listed a few dozen things, which are saved at the link below.

My kids have been interested in books and documentaries, but if I only "counted" that, or thought those were more valuable than the other connections, unschooling would fizzle.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Adding beauty

Adding beauty where it was not required is the heart of artistry.

Perhaps art is never "required."
Maybe art is always a choice.
Discovering or creating beauty
(Twenty posts before this dealt with beauty.)
photo by Lydia Koltai

Friday, October 26, 2018

Share this contagion!

As my kids get older...I'm seeing more vividly the results of parenting choices, not just in them, but in their more conventionally parented peers, as well. Generosity begets generosity.
—Caren Knox
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, October 25, 2018


It's a luxury to be able to sleep when you're tired.

Parents of young children might think that opportunity won't ever come back to them, but it will. Meanwhile, try to feel the benefit, and the gift you're offering when you let your children sleep how and where they want to, if and when you can.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Avoid punishments because...

No matter how "peaceful" the punishment might be, it still involves power and judgment and has a loser. A winner and a loser. Ultimately several losers, because the parents lose out on the chance to undo it, and the grandchildren might suffer similar losses of choice, freedom and happiness if the children aren't shown a better way.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Engineering peace

Every bit of peace makes the world more peaceful. If you can engineer one peaceful moment, you can have two or ten.
From The Big Book of Unschooling, Sandra Dodd
photo by Eva Witsel

Monday, October 22, 2018

A hundred times instead of once

Many people do have experience "removing restrictions," but please help us help others by NOT recommending doing that, ever. Sudden 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 growth from 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.

"Too Far, Too Fast":
(I changed the original slightly, because it used to have "joy" twice.
I'm not against joy, but it broke the flow.)
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, October 21, 2018

How much time will this take?

How much time does unschooling take?

It depends how you look at it. If you're looking for moments of one-on-one instruction or school work, it takes none of that. If you're looking for hours of mindful living with the hope and expectation of learning, then it will take all your time.

If you come to see and understand unschooling, then the question about how much time it takes will seem like asking "How many hours a day are you alive?"

That's all of page 6 of The Big Book of Unschooling, which links to
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Playing around

Usually it looks like we're just playing around. When it doesn't look like we're playing, I work on it. Unschooling works best when we're playing around. Much of our play involves words, music and humor. It has to do with merrily connecting the dots, in a real world way, and in a mental-connection way.
photo by Karen James

Friday, October 19, 2018


Wherever you live, most of the rest of the world will never visit there, never see or touch the things you see every day.

Sometimes, when you look, listen, taste, feel, smell, close your eyes and rest, remember that you are in one special place.
Something different
Normal or exotic?
photo by Carolyn Pihl, of an apple in Sweden

Thursday, October 18, 2018


If you get to sleep for a long time, be glad. If your sleep is interrupted, try to be like a cat, and just accept it. Measuring sleep and being angry about the clock will lead to neither peace nor rest.

Children will wake you up. Breathe in love and remain restful.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


I decided not to hate anything, and to leave as much of the world accessible to my kids without them feeling they were messing with something I didn't like, or asking about something I disapproved of.

When I reject something from my life, it closes doors, in my head, and in my soul. I can't make connections there anymore. I have eliminated it from active play. It's not good for unschoolers

Everyone has the freedom to be negative. Not everyone has thought of good reasons to be more positive.
The quote above starts in the middle of a sentence, at the page called "open."
Before that, it was about jazz and science fiction. It's a circus page.
photo by Ester Siroky (click for more context)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The real problem

Years before we had children, I was telling my young husband-to-be that in school the only math I liked were the "word problems."
He said those are the only real math problems in text books. That was the real math. The numbers sitting already in equations and formations were the solutions to unstated problems, with only the arithmetical calculations left to be done.

I remember that moment vividly. I was in my late 20's and hearing for the first time what "mathematics" meant. I had asked my teachers all through school "What is this for?" and "How is this used?" and they rarely had an answer beyond "Just do it," or "It will be on the test."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sparkly thoughts and moods

When someone said she should make her house seem more sparkly, I wrote:

Not seem. No pretending.

Not your house. Your thoughts, your interactions, your moods, your responses. Sparkling, like sparkling from one thought to another, connecting a picture with a song with a joke with a movie with a dog.

Sparkly ideas
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A big, easy difference

"If I can bring someone a snack before they come tell me they are hungry it can make a real difference in the kind of day we are all having!"
—Sylvia Woodman
Siblings: Attending to Very Young Children and Their Siblings
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Gently, step by step

Step by step is usually more effective than trying to leap across. More tortoise, less hare.
—Debbie Regan
Gently unwind
photo by Robin Bentley

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sunrays and angles

Remember that different people see things differently, maybe because they're younger, or shorter, or more interested in the mountains than in the sunray. Maybe someone is thinking of song lyrics and will miss a joke. Being near running water can keep someone from hearing a question.

It's likely that more things are happening and being noticed than the parents saw or planned.

Do the peaceful, generous things when you can.
photo by Lisa Celedon

Thursday, October 11, 2018

More than some

We can't know all of everything, but we can know more of everything.
More of everything
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Don't play it, be it

"If you are choosing to be a mother, move beyond playing at it, and *be* it."
—Pam Laricchia
Are You Playing the Role of “Mother”? by Pam Laricchia
(see also, if you're having fun,
photo by Colleen Prieto

originally Being a mother, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Are you struggling to relax?

Leah Rose:

Sandra wrote: "They need to STOP battling, STOP fighting, STOP struggling"

This has been such an incredibly powerful, empowering concept for me. It's a total turn around from the way I grew up thinking, from the way we think and speak in Western culture. But I have made the greatest strides in my own deschooling by learning to notice when I feel myself "struggling," and to Stop! Then I can choose to let go, to relax about the disparity between what I want and what is. And what I have discovered is that that conscious mental shift releases the energy I need to step forward mindfully into the moment...and then that moment becomes, itself, a step towards what I want, away from what I don't want.
—Leah Rose
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, October 8, 2018

Seeing and Doing

Go to parks, pick up sticks, ride bikes to new places, swing on the swing differently, make bubbles and blow them in front of a fan. Look at stars at night and try to find constellations, light things on fire with magnifying glass, roast hot dogs for dinner (it's cheap), the possibilities are limitless, but only if you choose to see them.
—Jenny Cyphers
Choose to see abundance
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 7, 2018

See your child

See all that is good about your child.
Holly Dodd, self portrait in a gas cap

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Confidence oozes out

Once your own child starts to grow and change, then the confidence isn't external. It's not "I believe this will happen because I've seen it happen elsewhere," it's

"I believe it's happening because it's happening. You can't deny that I know my child learned this without school." And so the confidence that those families then have oozes out to other families. And this is an advantage of those many years passing, is there's a lot of experience, a lot of examples, to see.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, October 5, 2018

Into the future

One of the most important things to remember is that we have choices. It's the choices we make, consciously or unconsciously, that take us into the future.
—Karen James
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fascinating or non-fascinating?

In a discussion on why children should learn things, I suggested that it would make them more interesting at cocktail parties. Someone objected, saying children shouldn’t be pushed to learn things just to make them interesting. She had missed my point, but that only made the discussion more vibrant.

The cocktail party goal might be more worthy than pushing them to learn things so that they can get into college, but I was really enjoying the discussion because it was so different. For one thing, it’s quite a figure of speech now, so many years after the heyday of “cocktail parties." And wouldn't an admissions officer prefer fascinating over non-fascinating? But the stated objection was this: “To push kids in all kinds of directions in order for them to be fluent at cocktail parties is a waste of time, imho." It amused me and I responded. ...
photo by Holly Dodd, of herself in a Learn Nothing Day shirt

When this first ran in 2011, there was a good comment, and that's Right Here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Body Smart"

There are eight or ten intelligences people have, in different combinations and degrees. One is "bodily intelligence," or kinesthetic intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic covers dance, body-awareness, physical talents that might be used for sports or knot-tying or wood carving or physical therapy. Some people are only slightly aware of how their bodies work and what their capacities are. Some people seem to be born knowing, or using their bodies well without even thinking about it.

See and appreciate physical skills.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Enjoy it!

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

What do I regret? EVERY minute that I spent worrying over whether the house was clean. That would be my biggest regret. THAT was wasted worry.
. . . .
I have learned to LOVE doing the dishes. I don't DO them without enjoying it. I either enjoy it or don't do it. Appreciate or enjoy or at least feel pleasant&mdashI don't have to be deliriously happy. So sometimes they don't get done. But usually they do. And nobody in my house ever has bad feelings about dishes anymore.
—Pam Sorooshian

Quote from;
Ideas match
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 1, 2018

Laugh, think, smile

In a group chat on "wonder and awe," Marta wrote, to me:

Do you know what I have done lately whenever I'm feeling a bit down? I listen to one of your talks! It makes me laugh, it makes me think, it makes me smile, it makes me feel awe and it makes me go right back to my daughter and my husband and touch them and kiss them.

I love your voice, I love your laughter. It calms me, what can I say?
—Marta Venturini Machado

The quote is from Wonder and Awe
and ther are things to hear at
photo by Amber Ivey

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tidbits here and there

Joyce Fetteroll, in Five Steps to Unschooling:

Forget the linear approach to learning we grew up with. For instance, we learned that the way to learn is to read "all the important" stuff about a subject gathered and packaged for our convenience in a textbook and then move on in line to the next package of information.

Sure, sometimes an interest will cause kids to gather up a huge chunk of learning all at once. This is easy to see. And easy to overvalue as the "best" way to learn.

More often kids will slowly gather interesting tidbits, making connections as things occur to them to create a foundation. They'll add pieces here and there over the years to build on that foundation. This is not so easy to see going on. And very easy to undervalue.

So, if we can train ourselves to see that process we can help it along by valuing the times when they see Thomas Jefferson on Animaniacs and then later on the nickel and then still later on Mount Rushmore. Those moments will establish a feeling of recognition and familiarity. Then the more tidbits they gather about Jefferson, the more interesting he becomes. And the more interesting he becomes, the more they want to know about him.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Julie D, of a younger Holly Dodd and a little Adam Daniel

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Fond remembrance

When stress comes and you need a break, sometimes bringing to mind one shining moment, however small, will help. Remember, if you can, a scent or an emotion,
the feeling of the air, or a sweet word spoken another day, another place. Breathe in that remembrance and be at peace in that one breath.

Be grateful for that memory.

The next moment might be easier.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly Dodd in Florida, in warm sunshine

Friday, September 28, 2018

A smile instead of a frown

"Love that sunset. Want to tell you that magnet sits on the door of my fridge and the words have allowed me to move forward so many times when I would have been stuck in a negative place. Sometimes just knowing you can give a smile instead of a frown is all it takes."
Photoshop by Holly Dodd / Photo and quote by Sandra Dodd
(The magnets are business-card sized, not as big as the image here.)

That photo with more sky, no words: Waking up Happy


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...