Friday, December 6, 2019

Intangible gits

For many families, this can be a time of stress and love and joy and exhaustion and fear of failure,
concerning procurement and presentation of food or presents.

Remember intangible gifts. Remember to be kind and quiet and sweet, around and through the sound and swirl. Be grateful and express your gratitude to others, for help, for health, for being, for smiles, and for love. Touch and speak gently.

photo by Meghan Pawlowski

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Consciously, thoughtfully

Every choice you make should be made consciously, thoughtfully, for real and good reasons.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A house full of "ok"

Our house is really very peaceful. A house full of "no" can't begin
to be this peaceful.

Written in 2006 when my kids were teens and all still home,
and shared again on Always Learning in December 2019
photo by Belinda Dutch, of her warm family

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Non-emergency services

People who will read about unschooling very regularly, and think about it every day, and DO IT, increasingly better, all the time, are not likely to have sudden emergency needs. The whole idea is to move ever nearer to understanding how to live like an unschooler in every aspect of one's life—not to "act" like an unschooler, but to think like one.

That was me, writing (above) at How to Discuss Unschooling, about what makes unschooling discussions work well for members and their families.
photo by Jihong Tang

Monday, December 2, 2019

Gradually, humorously and merrily

It's not good for a family that's had rules to drop them suddenly. It confuses the kids, and robs the mom of a hundred chances to go "Hmmm.... Sure! Why not?" and keeps the kids from those hundred joyous moments.

Better to move toward it somewhat gradually, humorously and merrily than to just say one day "Eat anything and everything, and never go to sleep." That's not comfortable.

The quote is from Principles of Unschooling?
but it's about Gradual Change.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Preserve some instincts

Allow children to reject food they don’t like, or that doesn’t smell like something they should eat, or doesn’t look good to them. Don’t extinguish a child’s instincts because you-the-parent seem sure that you know more, know facts, know rules.
. . . .
Instead of looking for exceptions to knock my ideas away with, read a little (of this or anything else), try a little (try not forcing food OR “knowledge” into children), wait a while (and while you’re waiting, ponder the nature of “fact”) and watch for the effects of the read/try/wait process, on your own thinking, or on the child’s reactions and responses, or on the relationship.

Reading science; food, and instinct
in which I provide information on a situation in which
Twinkies are better food than alfalfa sprouts,
and when lettuce might be very dangerous

Photo by Sandra Dodd of bell peppers (which I don't much like) stuffed with things lots of other people don't like or can't eat. I didn't do it on purpose, the recipe was just all beef, onion, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, pine nuts...

Friday, November 29, 2019

Artistry with color and food

When you choose, clean, cut and set food down, be there.

Sometimes, consider the texture, color and shapes. A few minutes spent seeing more clearly, and moving more purposefully, might make memories for those who see your momentary artistry, and will give you a moment of presence and success.
Play with your food
photo by Lisa Kae

Thursday, November 28, 2019


When you look up, literally or figuratively, life is better than when you're stuck looking down.

The air, the light, the expansive sky, are not down under your feet.

Look way up, and smile.
photo by Megan Oriah

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kids' stuff, and sunrise

At the age of eleven, Holly has had very little exposure to the idea of what is kids' stuff and what is not, and so her television and movie tastes are personal and calm. She will watch Teletubbies on the same day she might watch Stand By Me or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She likes music, she understands The Green Mile, and she's analytical about the messages various PBS children's shows intend to present, about school or self esteem or history or math. It's fun for me to watch her watch TV.

Seventeen years after that was written...
We have a toddler watching Teletubbies at our house sometimes now. Holly saw a sunrise that reminded her of the intro to that program, and sent it to me for Just Add Light and Stir.

How Unschooled Kids Watch TV
photo by Holly Dodd, November 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Who thinks what?

[For unschooling to work...]
The parents need to be truly interested in their children as people, not just as symbols or irritants or mistakes or property. They need to care more what their children think than what other adults think, and that is very rare in the world.

I don't know where I wrote it, but Tiffani M. shared it on Facebook in 2012.
I'm glad she saved it.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Monday, November 25, 2019

Tangents and connections

How many ways can you categorize a scene or a situation? Here is a photo of a bridge.

I see geography, weather, water, engineering, technology, materials, transportation, history, finance, artistry, reflection, photography, generosity, audience, storage, reference, stored in fleeting pixels.

Play with your ability to see things more than one way. Enjoy hopping from one connection to another.

photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Think it up

Think of something that could make a child's life better.

Act on that thought.
Inventory Your Tools
photo by Sarah Scullin

Friday, November 22, 2019

Supporting the soloist

What is your relationship with your child? The boss? The friend? VARIES depending on project—sometimes I'm the coach or the lead. Sometimes I'm not.
Sometimes I'm a stagehand. Sometimes I'm the soloist. Sometimes my child is the soloist.

What happens with partners is that when one is the soloist, the others still sing backup, or sit in the audience supportively, and meet them at the stage door, figuratively or literally.

Some thoughts about partnerships
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The cool thing is...

The cool thing about partners is, if they win you win.
Partnerships and Teams in the Family
photo by Tessa Onderwater

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Whole people, with lives unfolding

I see my children as whole people whose lives are unfolding now. They may have memories as vivid as mine. What I do and say now will be part of their lives after I’m dead. And do I want to be the wicked witch? Do I want to be a stupid character that they grow up and live in reaction to and avoidance of? And so if I see them as whole, then I see that as they grow bigger, I grow smaller in their universe.

Improving Unschooling (transcript, and recorded interview)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Same sun

The sun I see today will be the same sun you all see.
In Maharashtra, in East Sussex, in New Mexico, the horizon is different but the sun is the same.

Children learn by playing, asking questions, trying things, watching and thinking. The house, objects and and the other people are different, but unschooling works the same way.
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Monday, November 18, 2019

The way to be

The way to be an unschooler is to change the way you see and think,
so that you can change the way you act and react.

problems with unschooling lists
auto-generated word cloud with words from some posts here

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Building the foundation

Caren Knox wrote:

In addition to this time being short, and precious, you are building the foundation of natural learning in your home. Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now.
—Caren Knox

"Are we stuck?"
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Give your kids so much love and self-confidence that peer pressure will mean nothing to them. They will be pressure-proof.

photo by Holly Blossom

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Intense learning

I was just telling a young (22) friend the other day that my kids were always the most exhausted not after a day of physical activity, but after a day of intense learning. If they saw things they had never seen, got to do something they’d never done, met new people and played and talked, they slept like rocks. But those days might not have looked like something to write a transcript about.

Sometimes the most intense learning of all looks like play. And that is central to what makes unschooling work.

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07
photo by Kinsey Norris

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Learning and peace

Peace and calm help learning.
Stress and pressure never help learning.

If you set your priority on learning and peace, it makes other questions easier.
Peace and calm
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 11, 2019

Information to consider

I don't care if people disagree with me. I wouldn't want anyone to agree with me blindly, nor disagree blindly.

Nothing personal to me—I just want to present information for people to consider.

That was written in the mid 1990s, in an online workshop
about detoxing oneself from schoolishness.
It is preserved here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Learning everything

If you think of knitting as “good for learning math” it isn’t good for knitting. 🙂

EVERYthing is good for learning everything.

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07
photo by Ida Maria Stenild Coltau

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Compare and appreciate

When trying to decide whether unschooling is working, remember to compare it to what would be going on if your kids went to school. They’d be doing six different things (homework) not of your choosing or theirs. And you would be expected to oversee/help.

They would have been taught by school NOT to fraternize with others; they would be less likely to play together.

So don’t compare it to your imagined ideal. Compare it to other real options, and then appreciate what you have.

The big upside
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Friday, November 8, 2019

Try, discuss, explore

What makes unschooling work is that children learn by playing. Older kids too. Adults, too. People learn by playing.

People can learn without “work” and “study.” They can learn by trying, discussing, exploring.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Real, actual unschooling

I don’t mind “radical.” I just hear it as “real” or “actual”
Radical Unschooling is...
photo by Cass Kotrba

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Your move

Sometimes I’ve said that conversations, friendships, relationships, are like a chess game. You don’t get to plan out all the moves in advance and decide the end. You get to make ONE move. Then you wait.

Because of a post called Moonrise, here,
a discussion ensued.
photo by Vicki Watkins

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Value, form and substance

My response to this (years ago):
We are going into our third year of "homeschooling." Our first year consisted of complete deschooling. The next year I fell victim to mother panic mode
If I said "I went through a year of demagnetization, and the next year all kinds of metal stuck to me," you might think I hadn't really demagnetized!

Deschooling only works when it works. Doing nothing schoolish isn't the same as actively recovering from school. Kids will get over school gradually, but there needs to be an active unschooling life taking its place as they recover. Parents get over schooling MUCH more gradually, as they were in school more and they have parental fears and responsibilities and pressures from others. So it takes more work and more time for parents to see the value of and to recognize the form and substance of natural learning.

Unschooling - some questions (2003)
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, November 4, 2019

A small decision

How often do you make a choice?
How often do you think "I have no choice"?

How do decisions happen?
How small a decision can you make?
           to pause?
           to smile?
           to sign your name bigger and happier?
           to open your windows and your thoughts?

Considering Decisions
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Growing newness

Unschooling is a good excuse for parents to do new and interesting things.

Unschooling can make it easier for a parent to feel, and to show, enthusiasm.

When a parent enthusiastically does new and interesting things, there is value even if the child's attention and interests are elsewhere.
Newness and excitement
photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Sleep it off

Sometimes you need to sleep it off. Being tired can be a sign that there was a whole lot of fun, activity, work, or learning.
Sleep when you're tired
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Safe and lively

"Some kids need school more than they need their dangerous or lifeless home environments."

I wrote that in 2009. School was good for me. If you keep your kids out of school, create an environment that is safe and lively.

If you can't do better than school, let them go to school.

Building an unschooling nest
photo by Manessah Ellender Garcia

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wholly cosmic

Polly Berrien Berends refers to infants as "seeing beings," and that changed
my life, when I read Whole Child/Whole Parent, when Kirby was a baby. To
realize so profoundly that his whole, real life was fully in progress changed MY
whole, real life. And that's the purpose of her book, and the meaning of the
title. When we help our child to be whole, or rather when we acknowledge
and honor his wholeness, seeing him as the seeing being he is, then we know that
we too are, and always were, "seeing beings." We are as much a part of that
child's world as he is of ours, and we are both part of the same wholeness.

Kinda cosmic. 🙂 WHOLLY cosmic.

Children are people
photo by/of Holly Dodd

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Gain courage

Fearful schoolishness hasn’t ever helped unschooling yet.

When you are schoolish, or fearful, or both, move toward courage.

Becoming Courageous
(The quote's not from there, but that's a better resource!)
photo by Gail Higgins

Monday, October 28, 2019

Seeing learning

You won't "deprogram" yourself by clinging to school stuff.

Until you see learning where school stuff is not, you won't get unschooling
at a gut and soul level.
Actually seeing it
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, October 27, 2019

What you think

Clarity can begin with being careful with the words you use. Thinking about what you write will help you think about what you think!
from Unschooling Discussion
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Happy, safe and comfortable

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

There are so many small generous happy-making things that parents can do for
their kids throughout the day, and week, and month and year.

When kids are accustomed to feeling happy and safe and comfortable, they can
move through life knowing that life is happy, safe, and comfortable, and that
even when it sometimes isn't, they can always come home to find it and feel it
—Jenny Cyphers

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rhythm and connection

"I learned how to breathe and relax into the rhythm and connection that define the learning life of unschooling."
—Leah Rose
The precious principle of abundance
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Alphabetize your shoes

To someone who thought unschooling might be hard because she liked structure:

If you like structure, reorganize your spices, or make a birthday calendar and buy cards for everyone for the coming year and start putting clippings or little stickers inside the envelopes of various individuals. Alphabetize your shoes. Do something that doesn't hinder your kids, to fulfill your need for structure and organization.

That was from 2003. People are less likely now to send clippings, or birthday cards. The principle still holds true, though. 🙂

What about structure?
photo by Manessah Ellender Garcia

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Time and seasons

When I was younger, I couldn't yet grasp the meaning of loving something and letting it go. All I could think of were birds.

As a parent, and as a grandparent, I see it more clearly. I remember a pregnancy, and a baby, and a toddler... but we let them move on, and grow, and appreciate then where they are, while knowing we can't keep them that way.

The new plants grew, and some survived, and harvest came, and fall. This photo shows a garden that's already gone, but will be back in some form next year.

Life flows through us and around us.

photo by Cass Kotrba

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Freeing advice

"If there is one piece of advice I could give people it would be to see everything they do as a choice. It is so incredibly freeing. 🙂 It seems like the only reason we do so many unpleasant things in life is because we don't have a choice. But it's the perception of not having a choice makes them doubly onerous."
—Joyce Fetteroll
The Value of Choices
photo by Amy Milstein

Sunday, October 20, 2019


The more that parents can accommodate children's simple desires, the calmer and happier those children will be.
Nice, and patient
photo by Destiny Dodd

Friday, October 18, 2019

Curiosity and beauty

You can't see beauty without wanting to see some. Once you're looking through curiosity-tinted glasses, you will see a thousand interesting things.
(a little longer, on facebook)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sorry... here's news

I've missed a couple of days. I could tell stories, but the highlights would be:
computer damage (it's in the shop, but that's where the photos are for this)
new granddaughter named Tommy (she's in NICU, but she is okay—preemie, but healthy)
remodelling had some problems that stressed me (back on track now)

There have been other frights and frustrations, but everyone is alive and mostly healthy. I was unable to get in here, and might be gone another few days, but I'll be back! Probably. :-)

Good thing there's a randomizer. Good thing there are way over 3,000 posts you can peruse, revisit, frolic in.

Best wishes, and be happy,


photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 14, 2019

Don't always finish what you start

The only things that should be finished are those things that seem worthwhile to do.
. . . .
Wanting your children to learn to ignore their own judgment in favor of following a rule is not beneficial to them or to you. It will not help them learn.

Thoughts about finishing what you start
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Look at the moon

I don't look at the moon enough. Sometimes when I do, it amazes me.

Sometimes the moon seems to be the same old moon. Sometimes it doesn't show at all. Sometimes it shows in the daytime.

Perhaps, look at your child more. Sometimes when you do, it might amaze you.
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Big world, and full

"When we can we should always do more, offer more, think more, and make our bit of the world as big and full as we can for our kids. Our kid's lives get bigger and better when our thinking gets bigger and better."
—Deb Lewis
photo by Jo Isaac

Friday, October 11, 2019

The same but different

Some things are the same at a distance, or when the details are unimportant.

Up close, even things that are "the same" can be very different.

What you're doing, what people think you're doing, what you wish you were doing, all might be very different. By careful comparison and contrast, we can clarify our vision. Save the effort for things you care about, though.

photo by Cass Kotrba, who wrote
"These beets I grew are such beautiful colors! I have never seen a white beet before. They came from a beet mix from Seed Trust."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Laughing and playing and singing

I did my time in and around school, and learned things painstakingly and grudgingly that my children later learned while laughing and playing and singing. I have guarded my children's freedom and given them happy choices that I didn't have.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of little Marty

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The right way to live

"What you can do is *live* your right view. *Be* the person you believe it is right to be. If you believe it's best to be kind, be kind to her. If you believe it is best to be respectful, be respectful of her. *Don't* do it because you expect her to act that way. Do it because you believe it's the right way to live."
—Joyce Fetteroll
Healing Presence,when things have not been going well
photo by Karen James


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