Friday, November 30, 2012

Watch movies proudly

Watch movies proudly.

Don't be embarrassed about what other people think.

Let the movies lead 18 directions. Use the remote. Pause, rewind, use IMDB and google to find out more, more more!!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Toy guns

No doubt stone-age children played with toy spears and bows and arrows and atlatls and slings. Surely bronze- and iron-age children played with toy swords. Part of learning about culture and tools and technology, for children, is playing.

Children play with toy guns. Sometimes those guns squirt water, or fire little Star Trek phaser disks, or they shoot light. Some of them make noise.

There is no young-child gun play so violent as a mother saying "NO. I said NO!" to a young child who has dared to pick up a friend's toy gun.

page 229 (or 268) of The Big Book of Unschooling,
which leads to
photo by Sandra Dodd, of little Marty, cowboy gun in sword belt

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Better answers

During a drought, what is lacking?

The recommended answer: rain
Young Marty's answer: a boat ride
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Less practice, more life

Probably some families make rules so that their kids will learn to follow rules. It's possible. Too much practice can kill the joy, though. Being forced to play an instrument can create an adult who doesn't even bother to own one of the instruments he knows how to play, because how he's out of school he doesn't "have to." If someone made me practice eating before every meal, I wouldn't be very hungry.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time, change, learning

What advice do you have for families who are new to homeschooling?

Don't spend money at first. Read, meet other families, let your children have time to do what they're interested in, or what they weren't allowed to do before because of school.

If they want to read or play in the yard or ride bikes or watch movies or draw or paint or play games, make that possible for them.

While the children are recovering, the parents can learn about what they want to do and why, and how. There is more online about homeschooling than anyone could ever read. Find the writers and ideas that make sense to you, and pursue that. Don't rush into anything. 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, of a fence my sister made

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What is

Don't look at what can be learned. Look at what IS learned. If the parents can change their point of view and expectations and understanding well enough, they will see learning all the time.

There's no advantage in looking at what you wish or hope a child will learn. Look at what he learns.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Read a little, try a little...

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

Gradually you will notice more and more learning, and soon it will be happening all the time!

Sandra Dodd, on Unschooling, from the Do Life Right Teleconference 2012
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 23, 2012

Seeing through eyes of gratitude

Ren wrote:

Seeing our life work, our choices through the eyes of gratitude changes everything. When financial difficulties set in, I can be grateful for our health, for our togetherness and the true wealth we DO enjoy in this country. When I'm sick, I can be grateful I have family to care for me and that I can recover from whatever is ailing me, unlike many folks suffering much worse fates."
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The wonderfulness of others will not diminish you. Your realization of the wonderfulness of others will enlarge you.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly Dodd

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blue Suede Shoes

Some time back there was a request for songs to be sung which would be educational. As music itself is a discipline, I think any music can be used as an educational tool. It can tie in with physical activity, mathematics, physics, history, geography, art, language, and it can be used to get kids excited and awake, or calm and asleep, or anything in between. I don't mean singing about math or history, either, but discussing the form of the music, the rhythm, the moods, the origins, the instruments on which it is traditionally played, the length and pattern of the verses (or phrases, or whatever), what its purpose is (a march, background music for a movie or for an 18th century fireworks show, a lullaby, a love song), etc.

Don't miss this fun and easy opportunity to tie different "subjects" together by using a song as a jumping off place to many different discussions. If you need ideas, name a song here and see how many suggestions you can get for it!


What's above was written in 1993. Someone named "Blue Suede Shoes," thinking it wouldn't net much. I just wrote and wrote that day, and luckily I printed it out and saved it. The link below leads to my response, commentary and a video of Elvis doing another song, that leads to another song, and... you know.
photo by Sandra Dodd (of some art right behind my house)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kind, tender and sweet

Unschooling isn't anarchy. Being kind to a baby isn't anarchy; it's tender protection of one's young. Being sweet with a toddler isn't anarchy; it's opening up the world to a human being seeing it with new eyes.
photo by Julie D

Monday, November 19, 2012

Choosing freely

Wanting to learn, and making the choice to be in a school when one has the choice to leave without shame or punishment is a world apart from "no choice" and "have to."
(the quote is from page 262 (or 303) of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy to remember

Deb Lewis wrote:

You don't get another chance to be the mom to these kids right now, today. When they are grown and gone from you, you can have the cleanest house in the neighborhood. But what is the most important thing today? What will you be happier remembering in your old age; that your house always looked nice or that your kids were happy? What will your children be happy to remember about their time with you? Dirty houses always wait for you to get around to them. Children don't, and shouldn't have to.

Happy, happy, happy.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New to the world

We treated our children as guests, in many ways, as they were new to the world and we invited them into our home by having children in the first place.

Quote is from page 11 of The Big Book of Unschooling
but there is related information at
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hearing their voices, seeing their eyes

When deciding whether it's worth the money to go to an unschooling conference, factor in the money you saved by not buying a curriculum for each child. Count it as research for the parents, a learning experience for the children and a vacation for the family.
. . . .

Meeting other unschoolers, hearing their voices and seeing their eyes will give you a connection that books and websites cannot provide.
photo by Tim Mensch, December 2011

I realize that not everyone can attend a conferences,
but for those who can, it can be a great advantage. —Sandra

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do the best you can.

When rules are shaken off and principles are in play, it wouldn't make sense for a teen to think and then choose something really horrible. If the parents were saying "Consider all the factors you know and do the best you can," why would someone "rebel" against that?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sweeter water

Water handed to you nicely is a lot nicer than water slammed at you and sloshed.

It's got to be better for you, because you can drink it calmly and sweetly, without trying to choke it down when you feel like you're going to cry.

Be gentle.
(The quote about water is from
Partnerships and Teams in the Family.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Living harmoniously

Some parents label unschooling as "child-led learning," and so they think they're going from "parent led" life to "child led" life, but the balance point is that the family learns to live together harmoniously.

Harmony makes many things easier. When there is disharmony, everyone is affected. When there is harmony, everyone is affected too. So if it is six of one or half a dozen of the other (right between none and a full dozen), go with harmony instead!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 12, 2012

Great confidence

Don't rob your children of the experience and of the knowledge that they can learn to read without help. If someone can learn to read, surely he can learn other things. I don't mean to say that after he learns to read he can learn other things by reading. I mean that reading is complex, moreso in English than some other languages, and if your child knows that he learned to read, he will have great confidence in his ability to learn. (So will his parents.)

The Deeper Effect of a Child Learning to Read: Confidence
(the quote is from page 86 of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Slack and other rare and priceless things

Feeling like a good parent is huge. The opportunity to be successful every day at something with immediate feedback (hugs and smiles and the little-kid happy dance) is rare in the world. But giving children more slack and choices creates more slack and choice for the parent, too.
If it's okay for a child not to finish everything on his plate, might it be okay if the mom only cooks what he likes next time? Or makes the best parts in new ways? Not every meal has to look like the centerfold of a cookbook. If children can sleep late, maybe the mom can too. If children can watch a silly movie twice, maybe the mom gets to be in on that. If a child (or a seventeen-year-old) wants to watch a butterfly for a long time, perhaps the parent will have the priceless experience of watching her own child watch a butterfly.

From "Changes in the Parents," page 268 (or 309), The Big Book of Unschooling
which links to
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Changing the present

"Wishing the past were different to make the present different doesn't change the present. Only making changes in the present does that."
—Joyce Fetteroll

Thoughts about finishing what you start
photo by Graham Dusseldorp

Friday, November 9, 2012

The best moves

Some of what Adam Daniel learned from Pokémon:

You need a combination of different types on your team.

The best moves take a lot of practice to learn.

Don’t mess with a Charizard!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Compassion and goodness

"Self discipline" is like "self regulation." It's still about discipline and rules. How and why should one discipline and regulate oneself, when decision making in the light of compassion and goodness will work much better?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Bad Days—and fewer bad moments

I had only been online a couple of years when someone on AOL wrote one of the best things ever, and it changed my life the moment I read it. She said she didn't think of a day as "bad," as she didn't want to condemn or write off a whole day. She said she would just think "I had a bad moment."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


People breathe all the time. People are not always conscious of it, though, and so their breathing simply keeps them alive.

Beyond basic function, there are heights of mindfulness and awareness you can reach up to with conscious breathing.

Breathe before you act. Breathe before you speak. Breathe before you play. Breathe before you work. Breathe before you sleep. Breathe when you wake up. Breathe when you think of your child. (this quote isn't there, but more ideas are)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 5, 2012


Because the primary "method" of unschooling is living a rich life with a focus on learning and relationships, it's difficult to photograph.

I've had newspaper reporters want to come and photograph my children unschooling, at our house. I told one reporter once that if she wanted to send a photographer, my kids were at various places around town, and I named places and times for the next couple of days. The gaming shop; Kirby teaching karate; Holly playing Harry Potter at a comic book store. I told her if they came to our house what unschooling would look like was a kid on the computer, or watching TV, or playing with toys. She was certain I was missing the point of what she "needed" to have photographed.

Typical Unschooling Days
photo by Sandra Dodd, who could tell stories about that bench, that tree trunk, those onions, the way the sunlight was hitting that water, the cinderblock bricks and the fence they came off of... but the photo doesn't illustrate the history and connections and realities of the everyday objects in the picture

Sunday, November 4, 2012


There are no "violent video games." Kids are sitting on a couch in their parents' home pushing buttons on a remote control. That's not hurting them or anyone else. (Or young adults are home sitting and pushing buttons, instead of being out drinking or vandalizing something.)

In every single case of real-life violence anyone can think of, wouldn't it have been better if the perpetrator had been home on the couch than out causing trouble? 🙂
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Going backwards

"If a frustrated child is frustrating you, then find ways to eliminate things that frustrate your child."
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nurturing optimism

Pam Sorooshian, on her plans for a late-December presentation:

The one thing I've been thinking about this week is that unschooling is a profoundly optimistic decision and that it involves a huge commitment to living a very optimistic life. I'm going to talk more about what I mean by that and what happens when children grow up that way—kind of amazing.

I think it is possible that THE most significant thing unschooling does is nurture optimism.
—Pam Sorooshian

Always Learning Live Unschooling Symposium blog
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Supplies for play

Consider your resources and be on the lookout for more necessities like these: balls, flashlights, cloth for capes or tents (over tables or chairs or couches), containers, bathtub toys (ice is good), costumes, hats, blocks, magnets. Think of yourself, as a child, and what might have caught your attention. Provide for the child inside you and the current child, too!
photo by Sandra Dodd, Amsterdam airport