Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whole and healthy and strong and free

We can see how controlling food is related to controlling education, sleep, playtime and other areas of our childrens' lives. We can mess them up early (which our culture applauds) or we can learn to let them grow whole and healthy and strong and free, not crippled in mind and spirit.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 29, 2012

Live in joy.

Parents should learn to be calm and thoughtful instead of panicky and reactionary. It's better for health and decision-making, and it sets a good example for the children. Don't live in fear when you can live in joy.
photo by Sandra Dodd (click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free-form experimentation and analysis

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling looks nothing like school. It looks like play. Play—which is actually free-form experimentation and analysis—is how we—humans and really all mammals—are designed to make sense of the world around us. We build up an understanding of how the universe works by trying things out and seeing what happens. Then taking that new understanding to try more stuff out.

Written that way it sounds formal and directed. In actual practice it is free ranging and chaotic. But it works wonderfully well because it's what we're designed to do.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Magical music

Words are just words, on the one hand, and they are our connection to the divine, on the other. And the divine is often depicted with more than two hands (even Jesus has the nail-pierced hands, and his other hands, though not on the same statue like Ganesha might have), so on another hand words are magical music. And on another hand they are our link to the past and our messages to the future.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a little bird feeder,
or something, in Yvoire, France

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Decide, don't slide.

Better choices make things better.

Decide. Don't slide.

(from a little exchange with an unschooling dad June 25, 2012)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 25, 2012


"Flexibility to pursue tangents and cowtrails, and continuing to see the wonder in everyday things will lead to learning experiences without prior planning."
photo by Sandra Dodd

A "cowtrail" isn't a cattle trail. It's a little path worn by cattle walking single file in the same place, for years, between water and some favorite shade or gathering place. Sometimes they're called "cow paths." Sometimes little kids can follow them better than adults can, because the cattle might have gone under branches, tunnel-like.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"The easy way out"

In response to someone who had written, in 2003, that she had thought about unschooling, but maybe just because she was looking for an easy way out. A couple of responses from that day:

"Unschooling is not "the easy way out," it's the joyful way IN. The way into peaceful family life, happy children and meaningful learning that lasts a lifetime."
                   —Ren Allen

"Unschooling isn't easy. It's full time. What it takes is a change of belief and priorities. Lots have done it, and I'm sure you can too."
                   —Sandra Dodd

from an old page, found by Rachel on June 23, 2012
Photo by Sandra Dodd

Click the image (or here) for more information about that tree.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Solutions, not obstacles

"It helps to think of the solutions instead of the obstacles."
Understanding Anger
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 22, 2012

Different eyes

You and your children see the world through different eyes.

Be kind, and expect them to see things you can't see. Be reasonable and understand that they can't be you and won't become you. They were born in a different time, and are living in a different way.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Contagious good parenting

Being a good parent makes a person more attractive to the other parent, and makes the other parent grateful and respectful. Gratitude and respect make it easier to have compassion and patience.

page 270 (or 311) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A fair clip

At a fair clip, I thought of all of these:

paper clip
hair clip
clipping hair
clipper ship
clipped speech
clipping coupons
newspaper clippings
fingernail clippings
clipping the grass

and that was without asking anyone else or using a websearch or dictionary.

How do parents learn to play?

Learn by doing.

Play with words, thoughts, ideas.
scanner image by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Which hat?

These hats are in a museum in Pennsylvania, in a reproduction milliner's shop.

Recently Just Add Light had a quote and link to something by Pam Sorooshian about whether one should be a child's friend, or parent. Pam knows one should be both, and explained that elegantly.

I was with a group of home ed families in France, some unschoolers, others in the various stages of consideration of unschooling, and someone asked to to tell how I am as a woman. Bea Mantovani was the translator, and said the question didn't really translate. The questioner tried to clarify. She said I had spoken of my husband, and of being a mother, but how was I as a woman, separate from that?

I remember my confusion better than my response. One thing I said was that I AM a mother.

I suspected, and it was later confirmed, that it was a socio-political question, a feminist concept about identity above and beyond motherhood. But the question sets motherhood in a low position, if only the brightest and the best exist apart from and outside of that, and if to have no answer made me unaware or less whole.

For one thing, though, I was in France speaking to people because I had been invited to do so. I've written thousands of thousands of words about parenting and how children can exist in a peaceful world of easy growth in all directions.

I'm a changing-the-world woman. But even that didn't answer the question, because it still was an extension of mothering, which I had explained had involved sharing and modeling since I nursed babies at La Leche League meetings.

I would most like to be known as a woman of integrity, and for that to be true, I can't deny or reject any aspect of my being. I can't divide myself into parts and still be one integral whole. Any hat I might put on is still on my own head.

Affection and Esteem (from this blog, June 6, 2012)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 18, 2012

Photos don't have to be upright

Photos don't have to be upright, but I usually like for them to be.

I'm sorry for the glitch with today's post, and it's not yet fixed. I've written to Photobucket. For a while I was making errors because of Blogger changing, and now there's a Photobucket problem.

There was one photo by Holly that was sideways on purpose so the words would be the readable direction.

I know my writing is always about peace and goodness and living lightly and being open to what happens. I know my photos are often of trees or trucks, the view through a hole in a wall, or doorways, or fires or flowers. I like rooflines, and plants growing in odd places. I like light coming through glass—refracting, reflecting and projecting its shadows and colors. I like round things.

(The cake photo is by Cathy Koetsier, and Holly Dodd took one or two of them.)

Thank you for reading. You don't have to read these, so thanks for choosing to do so. I don't have to make them and send them out, but I like to.

Other solutions

"If you're trapped by have to's then there are no other solutions. If you recognize that there are other solutions then you can free up your thinking to allow them to come."
—Joyce Fetteroll

"There are just things we have to do" (on Joyce's site)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Progress toward joy

Some of the things that help people be confidently in the moment, feeling satisfied and content are:
  • Breathing
  • Gratitude
  • Happy thoughts
  • Fondness
  • Acceptance
At first it might be relief and not joy, but as relief is a step away from fear, more relief will be progress toward joy.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 275 (or 318)
photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, June 15, 2012

Counting and measuring

Measuring, weighing and counting can be fun!

Try not to measure, weigh or count relationships or learning, though. Learn not to keep count in the areas of knowledge or effort or interest.

Give, give, give
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 14, 2012

As big as the world

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

If you look at school and curriculum objectively rather than the fonts of knowledge they're touted to be, it's easier to see how hugely limiting they are.

Kids are stuck inside memorizing facts about life and the world from someone predigested facts about it.

Unschooled kids are out in the world learning as humans are designed to learn: by gathering in what they observe and pulling understanding from it.

Schooled kids lives are limited. Unschooled kids lives are as big as the world around them. And with the internet and TV, that's practically infinite!

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Safe place

If your relationship with your child is about you leading him along with you instead of pushing him away, you will be his safe place.

Make yourself his safe place.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 11, 2012

Play with words

Playing with words makes them come to life.

The history of England, of math, of writing, of counting.... Any portal into the universe is as real as any other. If an interest in language or butterflies or patterns or water creates connections for that person to anything else in the world, that can lead to EVERYTHING else in the world.

A parent cannot decipher the whole world for her child, but she can help him begin to decipher it.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in a park in Bangalore

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What makes things wonderful

The most common use of the word "wonder" these days is to express a question in a way that isn't likely to be answered, as in "I wonder when this tree will blossom?" It's also used to play with very young children with peek-a-boo games. "I wonder where Holly is? Where could she be? There she is!"

The deeper meaning of the word is what makes things wonderful. Full of wonder. Some adults are afraid of "wonder," though, because it involves relaxing into not understanding. It requires acceptance that one does not know. At its core, it is acceptance of and admiration for the mysterious and the hidden. It is taking joy in the revelation of simple things for which there are no words.

Similar page,
(though the quote is from page 279 (or 322) of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Real writing

Writing to real people for real purposes improves writing in real ways.

The quote is mine from a post to Always Learning,
but here's a link to go with it:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 8, 2012

For now

In response to questions about what unschoolers can say to doubters and critics right in that crucial moment, I wrote:

Some things I've said:

"This is working for now. If it stops working, we'll do something else."

"Thanks. I'll think about that." (Or you could say "We thought about that," or "I think about that all the time.")

Mostly people want to know you heard what they said, and that you have thought about what they're suggesting. It doesn't hurt to say that you have, or that you will.
photo by Sandra Dodd of one of the Diamond Jubilee beacons

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Affection and esteem

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Something that has rattled around in my head for years is the line, "You're the parent, not their friend."

I was just reading a news article and someone was quoted as saying: "Your kids don’t need a 40-year-old friend. They need a parent."

What a tragic dichotomy that one little line sets up!

Every single time that line has ever entered my head, it was leading me in the wrong direction. Every time.

What is a friend? I'm not talking about the schoolmates teenagers go out partying and drinking with. Not talking about the 5-year-old kid your child happens to play with at the park that day. I'm talking about real friendship.

1. a friend: one attached to another by affection or esteem

Knowing what I know now, with my kids grown, I strongly feel that that that one line, which permeates parental consciousnesses, should be quickly and actively contradicted and rooted out like a pernicious weed every single time it sprouts up.

Instead of "You're the parent, not their friend," substitute, "Be the very very best friend to them you can possibly be."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Anniversaries and memories

Queen Elizabeth II has been Queen for 60 years. Longer than I've been alive (I'll be 59 next month), she's been doing the same job, full time.

Two days ago, I watched BBC 1's live coverage of a flotilla of a thousand boats on the Thames, while I was sitting in the Daniels' living room with them and Addi. The Queen and Prince Phillip were on a boat in the flotilla, which was docked partway through so they could view the rest of the parade. They stood (never sat) through the entire thing, until the last boat passed, waving to all of them. While we got up for food and water and the bathroom, they seemed not to (though the Queen did go below briefly, and came back with a carefully draped shawl). It was cold, and sometimes raining. Because they stood, everyone else on the boat stood, too. Hours, and hours.

I was warm, inside. I was sitting.

Here comes my point. There are things to remember and times to remember them. The birth of a child, the decision to let him stay home instead of go to school, the time one decided to live a life of learning as an unschooling parent—these things are large in our lives. Take pride in your accomplishment even though there might not be people cheering you or waving flags.

You might feel you're doing a lot of work, under harsh conditions, while your children play. Think of the larger picture when you feel jealous or resentful. You had a choice. You have choices. All that needs to happen for years to pass peacefully is for a series of moments to pass peacefully. All you need to do to have anniversaries accrue is to continue to behave as conscientiously as you can, and to make choices in generous and selfless ways
photo by Sandra Dodd, who first became an unschooler 22 years ago
but who remembers having been an unschooling mom less than a year
and for a whole year, and then five, and later ten...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Whose home, whose responsibility?

Funny how parents say 'It's your home too and your responsibility,' when it comes to chores, but 'It's my home,' when it comes to setting standards or how money is spent or how to decorate it or ...
—Joyce Fetteroll

from a discussion at familyrun.ning, saved by The Wayback Machine
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bigger and Better

Deb Lewis wrote:

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 Sandra Dodd, at Explora in Albuquerque

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"They loved hearing stories..."

Once upon a time there was a family...

"The family lived peacefully together, enjoying their lives of travel, friends, and the pleasures from living life so simply. They encouraged one another’s passions and shared many as a family as well as having some of their very own. They loved hearing stories borne out of those passions and frequently wove tales that created interest, laughter, and joy from telling and hearing them. . . ."

—Ben Lovejoy, telling a story, about stories

The Stories of Our Families
photo by Marty Dodd

Friday, June 1, 2012

Food and its purpose

[When my children were little...] I always put the kids' needs ahead of dinner. Dinner happened after or around nursing babies and such.

You might have to do away with the idea of a peaceful mealtime for a few years. Maybe re-thinking meals would be the way to go.

I think it helps rather than to live by the idealized traditional model of dinner at 6:00, all at their seats, dinner conversation that could be reported to the media as an ideal mix of news of the day and philosophy, etc, to think of food and its purpose. People need to be nourished physically and it's uncomfortable to go to sleep hungry. THAT is the purpose of evening food, not the appearance of a well-organized dinner.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of one of the former Dodd babies