Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Time for Time

Time can be geological, historical, millenial, generational, eternal or poetic. Current time can involve years, months, seasons, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds and subparticles thereof. Time can fly or drag along. It can heal everything or be the enemy. There's no time out from time!

I hope you find some things here that you didn't know before, so that you feel your time was well spent. Time is money (or at least we talk about it as though it can be spent, saved, lost, wasted and stolen).

Be generous with your time and use it joyfully!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random connections

In The Big Book of Unschooling, most pages have a link. Every page links to others; some of them link to Joyce's, and with a couple of clicks, to everyone else's unschooling blogs and pages. So in a "six degrees of separation" way of thinking, probably anything in the world is six steps from unschooling information, but any of these random book pages or webpages is probably two steps from exactly the information one might be needing. Or it might be exactly what one needs.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A way of life

Pam Sorooshian wrote this a few years ago:

Strewing might be what I did at the Live and Learn conference when I noticed that some of the leaves were turning colors and, as I was heading to our room, I picked some up off the ground and left them on the bathroom counter so that my daughter would happen to see them when she used the bathroom. I have no idea if she ever noticed them or not.
Or it might be that I'm getting something out of a closet and I notice a game that hasn't been out and played in a while, so I set it out on the living room coffee table.

When the kids were little, I was very aware of and more intentional about this habit—I picked up interesting rocks or feathers, put out different kinds of paper or markers or tape or a puzzle or an old hat or anything that might, even if just for a moment, interest someone. Now it is just a way of life and I don't think about it, but we all do it. It is kind of a background thing that goes on in unschooling families—it is part of what creates a stimulating, enriched environment for our kids.
image borrowed from the Five Crowns page (now gone; sorry)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy and Glad

I wrote this of Kirby, in 2005 when he was 18 years old:
He's confident in his skin, in his mind, and in his being.
He's not afraid of his parents.
He goes to sleep happy and he wakes up glad.

My priorities could have been different.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 26, 2011

Peaceful communication

Peace, in an exchange, has to do with tone of voice, eyes, posture, attitude, intention, compassion—all the non-verbal communications that go with words and actions. Don't underestimate your child's ability to read beneath and around and beyond your statements. You would do well to try to read behind his words, too.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Choose to see abundance

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

In order for kids to feel and see abundance, they first must have parents who feel and see it too, even if there is no money. 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. THAT is what will help your kids learn how to be creative thinkers—seeing and doing creative things.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Kristi Beguin

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The trail starts to open up

In the middle of something a little longer, about becoming an unschooling parent, Pam Sorooshian wrote:
Overly self-centered people can't do it because it requires a lot of empathy. People with too many personal problems that they haven't addressed in their own lives probably can't do it because they are too distracted by those.
People who are too negative or cynical can't do it because they tend to crush interest and joy, not build it up. People who lack curiosity and a certain amount of gusto for life can't really do it.

On the other hand, we grow into it. Turns out that we parents learn, too.

So—when we are making moves, taking steps, in the direction of unschooling, turns out the trail starts to open up in front of us and we get more and more sure-footed as we travel the unschooling path.
Pam Sorooshian, on
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Full Plate Club

The food section of my website is called "The Full Plate Club." Its intro says:
"The empty plate club," referring to kids who successfully clean their plates, sounds so sad.

"Full plate" sounds much more nurturing.
On questions of whether a cup is half full or half empty, consider a plate. If a child has a feeling of abundance he will stop eating when he's had enough and be healthier and happier than if anyone presses him to take one more bite.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Being with your child

If watching TV is his thing and complaining about TV is your thing, you spoiled a chance to have a shared thing.
photo by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Free tools

You need to do MANY things, as an unschooling parent. Free tools are being added to these collections just about every day:

Joyfully Rejoycing (Joyce's site) (Pam Laricchia's site)

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

Don't overcomplicate, don't oversimplify.

Paraphrased from a post on Always Learning; this site will work:
photo by Sandra Dodd

2020 note:

In cleaning up old posts with more solid images and links, I replaced Always Learning, in the list above, with Pam Laricchia's site. Always Learning still exists, and at a better hosting site, but people aren't using e-mail as much as they once did. The Always Learning archives are open here if you want to read, and if you want to join and try to stir the discussion up, I would not mind!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A head start

Making this moment better than worse (getting warm, rather than getting cold) gives me a head start on the next moment, and being positive becomes habitual.

Getting Warm
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 19, 2011

Choosing and power

Deb Lewis wrote:

Once you’re really listening to your kids and not your sense of injustice, you’ll find that answering them and interacting with them is intellectually rewarding and stimulating and fun. It’s not something you *have* to do. It’s something you *get* to do for a very little while. You can’t change this need your kids have right now. You can only change how you see it, how you think about it and meet it. And that’s good because that’s entirely in your power to do.
—Deb Lewis

Deb was writing in a discussion,
but it was a good lead-in to this page:
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a railyard we visited
because my son Marty wanted to go there


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Special Offer

Pam Sorooshian wrote:
The only way to make it "just right" is to offer and not coerce. If you don't "offer" stuff/ideas/experiences, then the kids aren't going to even know what's out there. If you push too much on them, they can feel pressured and that their learning is being taken over by you.

It isn't all that tricky, though, when you live with a kid and pay attention and care deeply—to keep that child in mind and provide him/her with a pretty steady stream of options/possibilities/ideas/ stuff, etc. Invite and offer a lot—it is your job to create a stimulating and interesting environment around her.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How Many Days of What?

I think there should be 180 great days a year—parents should feel enough pressure that they have as many shiny show-off days as there would be school days. And that leaves 185-186 days per year for "doing nothing."

I don't think anyone should count, but if they feel like they're in a frenzy of doing too much, then that's too much. And if the mom is feeling like maybe she should do more, then she should do more.

Enough "great" that the mom feels like she provided greatness. And enough happy that the kid felt like it was good, too.

The "180" number came from the number of school days required by the State of New Mexico. YMMV.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Solution

Joyce wrote:

If we're creating an atmosphere of power struggle, the kids will fight back to win. If we're creating an atmosphere of problem solving, the kids will feel part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd
(but I don't know whose car it was)


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Proof and Belief

I guess what makes me the most defensive is when people say, "I don't believe unschooling will work." Okay... based on WHAT? I want to say. Based on the fact that you went to school every day for twelve or sixteen years and "cooperated" and you want that to be the only possible way!? The fact that it has worked and DOES work (maybe not for everybody, but for a LOT of people) is right there for those who want to see it.

I might not BELIEVE a 747 could fly, but they do. Whether I can explain it or build one doesn't matter. They do fly.

I have friends with older kids than mine who do remarkable things their parents didn't teach them to do. They figured out how to do it.

The foregoing was written in an online chat in 1996 (or late 1995) when my oldest child was nine. In the fifteen years since then, my own three have done many remarkable things they learned in all kinds of ways—from other kids, other adults, the internet, and on their own. The disbelief of others has had no effect on our family.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Step right up

The same life can be seen from many different angles.
The same situation can be seen while holding one's breath and being furious,
or while seeing the alternatives and finding ways to be grateful,
no matter how small,
because on one small bit of gratitude,
one can step up and see another one,
and another.
photo by Sandra Dodd;
quote saved and provided by Leah Rose,
edited in that format, which is good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to stop a power struggle

"Power struggles can disappear
when the person with the power
stops struggling."

Deb Lewis, 1/3/11
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 12, 2011

Natural Balance

If you limit it, they will want more.
If you "unlimit" it they will fill up and be done.

They can only make their own choices if they're allowed to make their own choices.
I don't think balance will come from limitations as well as some people wish it would.

I had a niece not allowed to eat sugar at all. NOTHING with sugar. A little hippie kid in the late 1960's, early 1970's.

She came to stay with us for a few days when she was six. We were keeping to her mom's rules about sugar.

We found her in the field, squatted over a 5-lb. bag of sugar, eating it with both hands like a monkey, as fast as she could before she'd get caught.

That wasn't balance.

Or maybe it was. It was the balance of all her deprivation.

My kids have come to their own balance with food, TV, activities, sleep, because they're allowed to make their own choices.

The quote is from an online discussion in August, 2001, ten years ago. The story of the sugar was when I was 22 and in my first marriage, long before I had children with Keith.

A related link is
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Old and New

History is not all old. What happens now and in the future will be history to those not yet born, and even to us, if we live long enough.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Growth or erosion

The faith your child has in you is growing or waning at every moment. You're either building your relationship or you're eroding it.

The photo is by Sandra Dodd, of coins on a computer; not important.
The quote is from a chat; not worth reading.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Living a Life of Learning

Unschooling is not the opposite of schooling. It is living a life of learning.

page 4 of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unschooling Philosophy

In the paperwork I filled out for a conference organizer, I was asked to describe my unschooling philosophy, and wrote:

I see unschooling as the ideal application of the 1960's and 70's "Open Classroom" methods, unlimited by school's schedules and physical limitations, but based in the research about human learning and optimal conditions for children's mental health and growth. In a rich, peaceful environment, learning happens all the time.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a bird's nest in England

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


"What will make the situation better?" That might be a good mantra for family changes. Anyone, no matter how young or frustrated, can think of each action in light of "Will it make the situation better?"
(quote from an outgoing e-mail)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stop and look

Instead of feeling like you need to struggle, just stop and look at your son and think, "Right now what can I do to make his life a little more interesting?"
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 5, 2011

Smile one sweet smile

Change a moment. Change one touch, one word, one reaction. If you try to change your entire self so that next year will be better, you might become overwhelmed and discouraged and distraught.

Change one thing. Smile one sweet smile. Say one kind thing.

If that felt good, do it again. Rest. Watch. Listen. You're a parent because of your child. Your child. You should be his parent, or her parent. Not a generic parent, or a hypothetical parent. Be your child's parent in each moment that you interact with her.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 194
Becoming the Parent you Want to Be
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The value of values

It will help unschooling for a family to accept the value of learning and of living peacefully. One family might value industry over music; one might value art over organization. But if they value their relationships and the comfort and safety of others in their family, they can thrive. As unschooling grows, you will find your priorities.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Better than fear

I think holding still and being afraid isn't nearly as good as swirling out and living a big life.

From a private e-mail I sent, but here's a fairly-matching link:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 2, 2011

One year has passed

Today this blog is one year old, and a second year begins. Occasionally I have future posts prepared to launch but more often I build one each evening before I go to bed. I've missed a few days since September 2, 2010, but this is post #361. Pretty close. There are 720 subscribers as I write this, so that's about two a day.

Most difficult, thusfar, has been trying to make sure I don't use the same image or words twice. I've decided to give up on checking so closely. I'll try not to repeat, but if you see something come around again, that will indicate that I really like that picture or that quote, and that I'm getting old, or sleepy, or both.

Thank you for reading, for sharing these ideas further, and for your kind words and sweet thoughts.

Holly, my lovely assistant and frequent photo contributor, suggests that I mention that a year passes more slowly for children than for adults. This reminder might help some of you, somehow, in ways I can't guess.
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of the books I use to mark which quotes I've used.
That doesn't work for website quotes.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

What would make things worse?

One easy way to decide how to be is to picture clearly what would make things worse, and then not do that.
photo by Sandra Dodd