Sunday, August 25, 2019

Impermanent beauty

The peaceful beauty of a sleeping child, a young woman, beautiful food, a flower, a building—nothing lasts forever. Beauty might only last a moment, a day, a year, and will change.

See what is lovely.

Love what is loveable, and remember to expect it to slip away.
photo by Karen James, of found art
and another, found by Lisa Jonick

Now that I think of it, though, most photos are of found and fleeting art.
I'm grateful to all those who have let me share their photos here.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Choose to have fun!

"Choose to have fun! Fear will hold you back. Guilt and shame will set in to cloud thinking and stunt progress. Having the courage to have fun in whatever pursuit thrills you most will most likely lead you to places you never expected to go."
—Karen James
About Videogames—SERIOUSLY
photo by Lisa Jonick

Friday, August 23, 2019

Being appreciated

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:
Be someone they want to do things for. We can't make people appreciate us. But we can become people they feel appreciate them and they will want to return that appreciation.

Be someone people will want to show appreciation for—and much of this applies to how we treat our spouses (and friends) too!
—Joyce Fetteroll

Getting kids (and spouses!) to appreciate what you do
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Some ideas for beginning

Though homeschooling is becoming more common, it is still confusing to outsiders. That's understandable, as it can be quite confusing from the inside.

Don't do what you don't understand.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
Beginning Unschooling: Some ideas
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Better, kinder tools

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Someone said that principles can be summed up in one word. Rules can't. I'm not sure if I can always do that but it's a helpful distinction to get someone started on figuring out the difference.

For instance a principle might be kindness. A rule is "Don't hit your sister." If there's a principle of treating each other kindly then there isn't a need for a rule that says "Don't hit." "Don't hit," only says "Don't hit." Kids do pick up that it doesn't say don't pinch, don't poke until she cries, don't pull hair ... But as a child is helped to find better (kinder) tools to use to get what they want and their understanding of kindness grows it's understood that anything that hurts someone is unkind so there isn't a need to spell out every hurtful thing that kids aren't allowed to do.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Save some tickets.'s the idea that when a baby is born, the parents get a coupon book of "NO" tickets. After they're gone, they're gone. Some parents say "no" so much to a baby and toddler that she's through listening to them by the time she's three. You need to save some for the big stuff, when they're teens, and the big win is if the child grows up and the parents never used 300 Serious "NO" tickets.

Someone quoted me in 2011, with the words above. I don't know where I wrote it, or spoke it. Sometimes I've said 200 tickets, for that story.

Save some tickets. 😊
Don't use up all your tickets, and Rationing "No"
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, August 19, 2019

No food fights

“Child-led weaning” and all the food awareness that went with that did a world of good for us, too. We never had fights over food with our children. They wanted to try what grownups were eating, and they were never pressed to eat anything they didn’t like the look or smell or taste of. They were free to spit it in my hand if they wanted to.

I’m sure the common La Leche League phrase “child-led weaning” resulted in the phrase “child-led learning” which many apply to unschooling, but after nearly 20 years of unschooling, I think “child-led learning” is a detrimental concept that keeps parents from creating and maintaining busy, rich lives with lots of choices.

About attachment parenting, in this interview from 1990
monkey platter by Robyn Coburn

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Reading will happen.

Reading will happen, and if it takes longer for your child than you think it will, keep them happy and distracted in the meantime. As their experience and vocabulary grow, their reading will be that much more effortless the day they're fully equipped to understand the written word.
Three Readers
photo by Quita Gray

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Hobbies and interests

My children’s interests affected mine, and ours affected theirs, and so there’s not a great dividing line between my hobbies and interests and friends and theirs. They have friends of all ages, as do I. I have hobbies I’ve had all my life, some of which one or more of my kids have picked up and some of which are still just mine.
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Happiness and joy

Cynicism and pessimism are poison and will destroy families and learning.

Happiness and joy will create more happiness and joy. Families and learning and the individuals within the families will be better off!

20 Unschooling Questions: Sandra Dodd from NM, USA
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Changing focus

"I focussed on making sure that my son's life was better, bigger, more sparkly, and had none of the 'have to's' that my life had."
—Jo Isaac

The path to peace
photo by Jonathan Medina

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Set the stage

Radical unschooling works the same way for every child. Pay attention to what he's interested in. Don't force things. Provide interesting items and situations, be patient and loving, and learning will happen. The more it happens, the more it will continue to happen.

Kids want to learn
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Curiosity reignited

"Once I started to see how interesting so many things are, it reignited my curiosity about life. Now, my kids and I have a great time following our own, or mutual, curiosities together and one thing *always* leads to another. Always!"
—Jen Keefe
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Becoming solid

When people first come to unschooling, when they want to be unschoolers, they're basing this on something they read that resonated, or someone they met that they'd like to be more like, which is the way I came to it, but I don't think it will really stick, and be solid in that family or in that person's way of being—in their behaviors and their thoughts—until they see that in their own children.

Until you're doing it not because you think it will work, or because you've heard it will work, or read it will work, but because you've seen it work.
. . . .
Until people get to that point in unschooling, they could relapse. They could easily forget that they wanted their kids to be more like someone else's kids.

But once they get to the point where their confidence in unschooling is not faith in other people, but certain knowledge, direct experience of their own children learning and being at peace, and of the parents learning to see the natural learning that happens when kids just draw for hours, or just play video games for hours, or ride their bike, or play with the dog—when they start seeing those things as equal in learning value, to things that look academic, then it's hard to relapse from certain knowledge.

20:45 in the sound recording of the interview at this link
photo by Emma Marie Forde

P.S. By the time you get to that point, you probably won't want your kids to be different, but the comparisons are normal before deschooling, and can fade as unschooling ideas permeate and pervade.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Just right

This was originally written in 2010,
so "recently" and "new" are nine years old now.

When I was little, I always liked the musicality of the story of The Three Bears, with its "too hot, too cold, just right" and "too hard, too soft, just right."

Recently I was interviewed and responded to a question about what can be a hurdle for new unschoolers, and what advice I would give to beginners:

"Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch." That's my new improved advice for anyone about anything. Some people think they can read their way to a change, or discuss themselves into unschooling.

It's important to find out what others have discovered and done, but nothing will change until the parents change the way they respond to the child. But if the parents change EVERYthing about the way they respond to the child, that creates chaos, and doesn't engender confidence. The child might just think the parents have gone crazy or don't love him anymore.

One solid step in the direction a parent intends to go is better than a wild dance back and forth. And if that solid step feels right, they can take another solid step.

the full interview, by Kim Houssenloge, of Feather and Nest
Photo by Linnea, with Holly's camera

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Do it gradually, now.

There is a page in The Big Book of Unschooling called "Cautions" (page 8), about changing gradually, and a webpage linked below with lots of ideas to help with that.

There is another page on my site called "Do It," about not waiting too long.

Gradually move toward doing it right now.

Halfway between "very gradual" and "do it right now" is the place to be, while you're learning about unschooling.

Gradual Change seems to contradict "Do It!", but you need both.
Here is another Just Add Light post with advice about how that works:
Shifting gears

photo by Amy Milstein

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


"It costs nothing to voice appreciation, and yet is so incredibly valuable!"
—Amber Ivey
photo by Roya Dedeaux

It's all inside

Nothing on paper is learning. Nothing recited is learning. Nothing in a conversation is learning....

Learning is putting information together in one's own head so that it makes new and different sense. It always and only happens inside the learner.
The Problem with Teaching is...
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, August 5, 2019

Share the glow

One of the best parts of unschooling (of deschooling, really) is reviewing childhood hurts and puzzlements, and NOT passing them on. By being kind to a child, we can feel that kindness for our own childhood selves, and share the glow.

Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary
photo by

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A better world

If by "change the world" a person means "make the world better," then step #1 must be to decide right then not to make the world worse.

Accidents sometimes make the world worse, and carelessness, and flukes of weather and acts of God. But if a personal decision makes the world worse, then what?

There are different levels of "oops"—didn't know, didn't think, forgot, didn't care, was pisssed off or drunk, was furious and wanted to do damage... What can be undone? What can be atoned for?

The world starts to get better when people stop making it worse, and a person's life starts to get better when he consciously decides to do what is better instead of what is worse in any given moment.

Philosophy, or That's what it's all about!
photo by Amanda Maillett

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Earn your children's trust

Live your life in such a way that other people will trust you. When you make decisions, make generous, selfless decisions so that others benefit. When you say something, do your best to say what is fair and right and true. When you write, write things you don't mind people taking out and sharing.

A person is only trustworthy if he has earned trust, if he is worthy of being trusted.

BENEFITS beyond just "be a better parent"
photo by Marty Dodd

Friday, August 2, 2019

See what you weren't looking for

If you know what you hope to see, you might miss seeing what is showing itself.
Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 1, 2019

How Important is your child?

If your child is more important than your vision of your child, life becomes easier.
photo by Sandra Dodd of Marty (in front) and Kirby (in red)

A second edition of The Big Book of Unschooling is available.
A wedge of the photo above appeared on the cover of the first edition.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I like traditional construction, I like stiles over fences or walls, and I like paths.
This one is in Montana, and has a bridge over a ditch, to get to a stile over the fence.

There are paths we can explore, and some we can't. There are metaphorical paths, philosophical paths, spiritual paths, and real-earth paths. There are paths in video-games, stories, books, and films. We can only follow a few, but it's fun to look around at others, too, to remember they're there.

Other path posts, and some with the term "paths." Have a nice stroll.
photo by Kelly Lovejoy

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Upbeat and sweet

Doom and gloom make the world a gloomy, doomed place.
—Sandra Dodd

Here is a longer passage of something I wrote in 2016 on facebook:

I'm unfriending people I don't really know who are complaining about their kids, or about school, or about politics or the horrors of something or other.

I'm keeping people whose pages are upbeat and sweet, and more about them and their families than about corporate demons and evil foods. Doom and gloom make the world a gloomy, doomed place.

Some of those things apply to those we allow to become members of Radical Unschooling Info, too. The post itself isn't very "upbeat and sweet" today, but I hope parents who read it will be!
photo by Jen Keefe

Monday, July 29, 2019

See them looking

If we wait to see where a child's gaze falls, and wait a while for a question or comment to form, our observation and readiness to assist if needed, or to converse casually will be better than any pre-scripted lesson could ever be.
It will be personal, and real, and at exactly the right moment.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Good job! (Is it?)

EVERY DAY you should wonder whether you're doing a good job. And you should do what it takes for you not to wonder about that.

I don't know where I wrote it, but Sylvia Woodman quoted me, in 2011.
I will match it with... Thoughts about doing better
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Embrace both

Teresa Hess:
It's like giving ourselves permission to connect with our own joy again, in the same way we're supporting our kids interests, and making sure we have their favourite foods around, and looking for things that will light them up and bringing more of that into their life. It's like, "Oh, of course, I should be doing that for me too!”
Pam Laricchia:
And it's not an either-or thing. We don't need to think of it as, "I'm caring for the kids or I'm caring for myself." Our world gets bigger when we contemplate ways we can embrace both caring for our kids and for ourselves at the same time. Caring for yourself is about connecting with yourself. And it doesn't need to be big things. Would I rather have a cup of coffee or tea? Which would bring me more pleasure right now? Often there are so many small moments in the day that can really add up, so that we don't forget about ourselves.

The quotes are from Pam Laricchia's e-mail introduction of Sparkle and Zest and Unschooling with Teresa Hess, which you hear here, on Pam's site or you can watch here, on Youtube. (There are podcast sources, too.) There is a transcript at Living Joyfully. It doesn't have Pam's beautiful words above, but Teresa and Pam expand on the ideas there.
photo by Jihong Tang

Friday, July 26, 2019

Respectful attention

Where is the balance between ignoring a child, and being an irritation?

Children should not be ignored. Attentively staying some distance away because a child is playing intently, and not interrupting flow—that can be a good thing. Knowing that a child is intently playing alone involves paying attention to the child.
Transcendental moments
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back to work!

Learn Nothing Day is over. If you wish it were not over, and you need more time, click here.

Otherwise, the holiday is over, so get back to work!

But wait...
Learning should not be work.

Get back to fun!

But wait...
You were probably having fun yesterday.

I will quote something, and recommend a book.
When a server in a restaurant asks me, "Are you still working on that?" my reply is, "No, I'm still enjoying it."
—Dean Sluyter

You might like his most recent book:
Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction.
I have paper and audio. His voice is very soothing.

Twenty years ago I found his first book, used. Even the name is entertaining:
Why The Chicken Crossed the Road and other Hidden Enlightenment Teachings from Buddha to Bebop to Mother Goose.
At the bottom of that page, I recommended that and another of his books, and there are links, there, if you're interested. Poke around his site.

photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Stimulating environments

Unschooling is dropping the conventions of schooling, eliminating such things as required subjects, reading and writing assignments, and tests, and entirely replacing
those with the creation of a stimulating, enriched environment and lots and lots of parental support for kids in pursuing their interests and passions.

LOTS of parents create stimulating environments and give lots of support for their kids' interests; this is not unique to unschoolers. What makes it unschooling is that unschoolers give up the rest of the schooling and trust that their kids will learn what they need to learn by being immersed in the rich and stimulating environment and with parental support of kids' interests.

—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 22, 2019

Now life is sweeter

Jennie Gomes posted a beautiful photo, which she took, of her son seen through a doorway. I wrote and asked if I could use it here. I didn't know what text I would match it with, but Jennie's response is its perfect partner, and I have permission to share the set with all of you.

You know Sandra, it’s a funny thing and life comes full circle.

Prior to our unschooling life a picture/moment like this would have never happened, I would have said “no” to the stuffies on the porch and Matthew using MY guitar outside.

Now, our life is sweeter and moments like these make up our lives.
—Jennie Gomes
photo by Jennie Gomes

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Your own tools and understanding

Each person who wants to unschool well will need to gather her own tools and understanding. . .

You must learn it within yourself, and see the learning in your children, in your family.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Calmer and better

Very often, becoming a calmer and better parent can help a person be a calmer, better person. Unschooling itself can be extremely healing and therapeutic at times.
photo by Amy Milstein

Friday, July 19, 2019

In between and beyond

I grumped and objected, once, to a challenge for people to post black and white photos. Some people were choosing perfectly good color photos and making them black and white.

I love this photo by Janine, of a black and white cat under a black and white umbrella. If it were not in color, the black and white wouldn't be clearly that.

All of our moments have context, and contrast. Things are rarely "black and white," even in a black-and-white photo. 😊

Open yourself to the smaller subtleties and to the wide expanses.
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Calmly alive

Find things that make your children's lives better and that make you and your family feel more calmly alive in the world.

pickled eggs with beets, and the photo, by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Learning every day (except one)

July 17 was my dad's birthday. For me, it was the marker of "one more week" until my own birthday.

And so in the absence of my dad in this world, with the addition of Learn Nothing Day, eleven years ago, July 17 is the "One More Week until Learn Nothing Day" day, for me. 😊

Please explore the art and notes of many years, at
the Learn Nothing Day Blog

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


"We all have issues about something. They go deep and are tangled up around other stuff but working at them bit by bit can make them better."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Karen James

Monday, July 15, 2019

Deschooling is healing

Deschooling, when done thoroughly, leads us through all the stages of our own lives, gradually, as our children get older. As each of my children reached the ages in my life that I had stress as a kid, I had emotions arise, again, but with the third it was milder than with the first.

It's healing, to treat our children in ways we wish we had been treated.
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Good person, good parent

Being a good unschooling parent involves being a good person, a good parent. Unschooling can't work unless the parent is there, whole and attentive and not screwing it up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ideas might start to grow

There's a fun fallacy in people who sort of hear about unschooling and then condemn it. They often seem to have taken the position that they know all about school, and we aren't sure what or where it is. 😊

I don't know why I've survived all these years, still helping people. It's really tiring, because school defenders
think we're clueless about school, and structured homeschoolers seem to assume that we have no idea what "a curriculum" might be. The same arguments and defenses and attacks, over and over.

But then some of them stick around to see what they're mad about, and discover that there's actually something to it, and even if they think it's crazy and irresponsible, the seeds have fallen, and someday when they're frustrated, and their child is sad, the ideas start to grow in them.

I guess that's why I stick around, too.

The learning and the beauty
photo by Niki Lambrianidou

Friday, July 12, 2019

Learning; being

Amy: Here is Sandra Dodd with a simple definition of unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: Creating an environment where natural learning can flourish.

Amy: What’s natural learning?

Sandra Dodd: Learning from experience, learning from asking questions, following interests, being.

Why unschool?
photo by Amy Milstein

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The gift of time and space

"We aren't leaving them to their own devices. We're creating an environment that supports them learning what interests them and learning how to be in the world. We give them time and space to do that."
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Jo Isaac

I started to call this post "Time and space," but thought I should make sure I hadn't already used that. I knew I had not used this quote before.
I have already used Time and space.
Blanketing time and space
Means, encouragement, time and space
It's kind of a theme, I guess. A range. Sort of a "time and space" continuum, or something.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Brief but bright

Sometimes an experience is brief, but memorable. Rather than big lessons, think of small moments that spark thoughts.

Playing with a sparkler is like stirring light into darkness. I like that.

"Sculpture" and other words
photo by Erika Davis-Pitre

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A better three year old

"A three year old isn't a better three year old by being able to read. A three year old is a better three year old by being helped to do what fascinates her."
—Joyce Fetteroll

more by Joyce
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 8, 2019


"The best thing you can do for your child is be fascinated by life :-) Get rid of that cloak of dullness that school draped over everything. Relearn how to explore just for the sake of exploring not because it's good for you or because it will be on the test or because it could be good for you one day. Do what's fascinating right now."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Where do you draw the line?

I love the pattern on that wall, in Spain. I've never seen it, only this photo, but it flows, like art, like dance, like a fluttery ribbon, even though it is made of brick, concrete, rocks and plaster.

"He can't even draw a straight line," is an insult that makes no sense, of an artist. Why should an artist draw a straight line? Here is some formidable art, bigger than a drawing.

Look for the art that sneaks up on you.
Unexpected, perhaps—and art
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, July 6, 2019

"I'm flying!"

Sometimes a child will tell you exactly what her thoughts are, and it can be a ton of fun. Other times, they might be thinking, wondering, dreaming, pretending, and it wouldn't be a good time to ask.

Try to give them some privacy, in their imaginings, if they want it. If they want to share with you, then, consider it a special privilege.
on being more quiet...
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, July 5, 2019

Good morning!

At your house it will be morning again within 24 hours, but it could be morning in your heart any second.

When people begin homeschooling, that's a big bright morning, but you can have as many mornings as you need. If you want to change the way you're being or thinking, just do it. Don't wait for another year, another month, another day.

Good morning!
photo by Gail Higgins


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