Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Safety and trust

Smiles and laughter involve safety and trust. Those emotions are good for families, for relationships, and for learning.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 30, 2012

Have to

Every time "have to" comes up in writing, speech or thought, back up two words and see it as a choice, and not a have to.

You don't "have to" do that, but your ability to make choices and to live a life of abundant gratitude will be hampered if you don't.

photo by Marty Dodd

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Respected and loved

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

When pretend violence exists without the other issues (parenting, school, neglect) it just doesn't have the effect that people fear it will.

For kids who are respected and loved, all sorts of aspects of life that they wouldn't want in their lives can be interesting to visit through fantasy. When you know you'd have to give up the things you value in life to have the "fun" of a violent life as well as the real life consequences, why would anyone choose it? It's only the kids who are growing up severely lacking in love, understanding, support, respect that see violence as a means to something better.

—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Sandra Dodd, of an interesting window in a thick wall at Fort l'Écluse

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Learning and life CAN be separated, with enough enforced separation and schooling, but that improves neither on learning nor on life.

photo by Sandra Dodd, at a truck stop in Texas

Friday, July 27, 2012

Calming and contagious

When someone smiles, even if no one sees them, it's better than not smiling. And if others do see it, it can be calming and contagious.

If someone is kind, it makes him a kinder person immediately, right then. No one has to endorse or approve it. It's done; it's already happened.

Every bit of peace one adds to a situation adds peace to the world, that moment and forever.

photo by Sandra Dodd,
of an arrangement at Bhava yoga studio in Albuquerque, on a ceremonial day; artist unknown to me

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stages of Unschooling

The first stage is all the fear and uncertainty and angst.

Then comes deschooling and noticing how much of one's thoughts might be school-based and how easy it is for adults to belittle and discount children. That will take a year or so.

After school starts to recede it will be like the stars showing on a clear dark night in the country. They were always there, but you couldn’t see them for the glare of the sun or the city lights. So now you'll start to see that they're not all the same, and there are patterns, and a history, and there's science, mythology, art, and then the moon comes out! And then you hear coyotes and owls and water moving somewhere… what water?

It might be like that, or it might be exactly that. But until you stop doing what you were doing before, you will not see those stars.

After a few years of reveling in natural learning and the richness of the universe, if you or your children decide to take a class it will be an entirely different experience than you would have had when school loomed so large in your vision of the world.

That's all of page 37 (or 40) of The Big Book of Unschooling,
which leads to SandraDodd.com/stages
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy growth

Deb Lewis wrote:

Resign yourself to the possibility that people still won’t understand and may still be critical. And take comfort in knowing that time will soften even your most vocal family critics. If they have children, they will notice problems in school, sorrows in their children, joy and learning and intelligence in your child, peace and happiness in your family. The critical comments will get quieter the more your lifestyle proves itself through the happy growth and learning of your children.
—Deb Lewis

Becoming Courageous
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thinking and being

This was accidentally sent as an extra, in mid-May. I hope you've already seen it, since today is Learn Nothing Day.

Some people say "no" before they even think, and then they justify it by all kinds of child-belittling means. You don't have to be one of those people.

photo by by Ashlee Junker (of Marty)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Too much of "too much"

Some people seem terrified of a monster they have imagined called "Screen Time."

I don't see them trying to put limits on paper time, or cloth time, or time with other people. I've never heard anyone say "That's enough 'imagination time' now."


Photo by Robin Yaeger! Several people took photos that night and if you click it you can see others of an impromptu Beatles Rock Band fest that took place during the Monkeyplatter Festival in 2009.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Get witnesses

One suggestion for moving toward more peaceful parenting:

Get witnesses.That's one reason people join support groups and confess to their friends what they're doing, because you've told somebody what your intention is. You've told them what your problem is and what your intention is and now you have witnesses and for some people that helps. Sometimes it needs to be an imaginary witness, sometimes it needs to be a real witness. But maybe, if it will help you, imagine that the friend that you most want to impress is there and would you do it if they were there.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 20, 2012

Damage and lack thereof

My kids want to eat at home, rather than out. They LIKE what they already have and don't crave newness.

When I was little I didn't get things, and I was told no a lot, and I still get a thrill from spending money, eating out, getting something new. It's as though something in me broke, when I was little, and a switch is stuck that makes me want something, vaguely. My kids don't have that at all, none of them.

Keith said he wanted them to grow up undamaged, and this might be part of what "undamaged" looks like. They're realistic and not needy.

Legoland cafe scene, photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 19, 2012


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

from a post on the Always Learning list
pickled eggs with beets, and the photo, by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The world is big. Your life is big. Your child is as big as you help him to be, or as small as you make him feel.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Globe Theatre and a hamburger

The Globe Theatre and a hamburger connect here:

Luckily for us all, we can see Shakespeare in our own homes, done by professionals, and we can pause or rewind or fast forward, we can eat chocolate chip ice cream or hamburgers (neither of which were known to anyone at The Globe Theatre), sit on soft couches with kids in our laps, have subtitles playing... I love DVDs. And I'm grateful to anyone who has ever made a film of Shakespeare.

photo by Sandra Dodd (click to enlarge)

Monday, July 16, 2012

High energy

Deb Lewis wrote:

There’s some growing evidence that sweets are good for kids. Sugary foods provide quick calories and energy for the high energy demands of a growing body. And at least one study suggests that sugary foods help children feel better, reduce pain and generally help induce feelings of physical comfort. Some researchers think that growing bones secrete hormones that increase metabolism and may act on the brain to increase appetite for high energy (sugary) foods.
—Deb Lewis

photo by Sandra Dodd, sweets, Lyon (click to enlarge)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Seeing and being

At the Radical Unschooling Info page on Facebook, an unschooling mom named Rachel Marie was clarifying for someone new to the idea of unschooling:

Unschooling looks different for everyone and that's why you are having trouble nailing it down.

I felt the same when I started. It's nearly impossible to describe because every kid is different and since unschooling is about focusing on your child as an individual, then it's going to be different for everyone.

If I were to say unschooling looks like laying on a quilt at night, looking at the stars and talking about constellations or it looks like taking long car drives just for the sole purpose of having long winded discussions about every single US war in history, there would be 30 people who popped in and said that's not what it looks like at all, because their kids aren't interested in those things.

Unschooling isn't about where or how you learn something, it isn't about doing what everyone else is doing. It's about creating a rich environment for your naturally curious child to learn things that spark their interest. If you can do that, you'll be headed in the right direction.

—Rachel Marie

photo by Holly Dodd, of her projection of an eclipse

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stimulating environments

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

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

Definitions of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thinking and acting

If you don't think before you act, if you don't consider two options, then you haven't made a choice.

If you don't think before you act, you have acted thoughtlessly.

photo by Sandra Dodd
of a woodpile at Fort l'Écluse

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Check your direction

This is important for everyone: Do not do what you don't understand.

If you get bad advice, and it seems bad, don't take it!

If you get a bad suggestion, and it doesn't seem to be helping, don't do it!

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch. If you're going the wrong direction, don't keep going.
Sandra, from Always Learning
photo by Holly Dodd
near Las Vegas, New Mexico


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Your relationship with learning

You can't wait until you understand it to begin. Much of your understanding will come from the changes you see in your child and in your own thinking, and in your relationship with and perception of learning itself. You can't read a touch and then go and unschool for a year and then come back and see what you did wrong; you could be a year in the wrong direction.
Read some, do some. Think. Rest. Watch your child directly and as clearly as you can...

from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 36 (or 39)
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, July 9, 2012

Easy learning

The books that have helped us with unschooling have been things that amused or intrigued or provided answers to questions. How-to and trivia books have been popular here. Real-life combined with humor makes for easy learning.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Peace and learning

Given a choice between something funny and something somber, go with funny if your goal is peace and learning. Very few things need to be still and serious.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 128 (or 140)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 7, 2012


If you're going to unschool, it needs to be better than school. If that involves getting mental, emotional or physical therapy for the parents, then do it! The house doesn't work if the roof is leaking and there's no heat. Parents don't work if they're in an emotional fog and can't pay sweet attention to their kids.

Healing Presence
photo by Sandra Dodd, of some ice cream in Leiden

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tweak toward affection

Did you do something to make a child's life better and richer? Be grateful that you thought to do that, or know how to do that. Did your child look at you with affection? Can you tweak your life enough that those affectionate looks come even more often?
The Big Book of Unschooling, page 275 (or 318)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 5, 2012


The more one's reaction to "food" (the word, the idea, the substance) is strong and emotional, the more evidence there is that the way in which that person was raised to see and deal with food should not be repeated.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It gets easier

Some home educating families feel that they're on trial, or at least being tested. If someone asks you something like "What about his social growth?" it's not an oral exam. You're not required to recite. You could say "We're not worried about it" and smile, until you develop particular stories about your own child. It's easier as your children get older and you're sharing what you *know* rather than what you've read or heard.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a flower in Albuquerque

Monday, July 2, 2012

A better path

Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world then anyone else could make for them."
—John Holt,
from How Children Fail

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Find wonder.
Let the world be full of wonder.

photo by Sandra Dodd