Monday, December 31, 2012

Refreshed and alive

Parents should keep life flowing, clear, refreshed and alive.

not a quote from, but goes with
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Count to one.

Because a test score is never ignored, tests affect the relationship between parent and child, and many unschoolers want to preserve their child’s journey to adulthood unmeasured, uncompared, and whole.  It might seem crazy from the outside, but the disadvantage of testing is real.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Learning isn't just for children!

Thinking Sticks
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy and humming

The parents don't need to know what the child is learning in order for learning to be happening.

If a child is bored and agitated, she's not learning. If she's happy and smiling and humming and engaged with what she's thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching or smelling, then she's learning.

Sandra Dodd, on the Always Learning discussion September 2012
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Whole people, now

Your children are not works in progress. They are whole people, now and from the day they were born. If you can try to see that, rather than think people are not finished until they're finished, it might help you.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Adam Daniel picking out a souvenir shirt
at the Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Don't live there.

I've been a teacher. From that point of view the world IS most definitely revolving around years and semesters, school districts, standardized test schedules, federal title monies, school bus contracts, cafeteria funding, library cuts, parking-lot pavement... all kinds of stuff that has nothing much to do with kids, their hearts, spirits and ideas. Shuck it away. Don't live there.
photo by Sandra Dodd of a carousel at a carnival in Leiden

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The whole of life itself

The better we handle the trust given us by a child, the better people we are, and the better the child's young life, adulthood and old age will be. We're not just dealing with little children. We're dealing with the whole of life itself, which will outlast us all. We are dealing with joy and with eternity.

The quote is from something I wrote in 2004. There is Music.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 24, 2012

Be that kind of person

Be the kind of person you want your child to be.

Nurture your own curiosity and joy.

Find gratitude and abundance.

Explore. Make connections, on your own.

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Richness in details

"Sometimes the simplest details lead to more mindful living. The richness of abundant living is in the details."
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a tree made of plastic water bottles

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let it go, let it flow

Shelter your kids from what you know is ugly. Shelter me too, if I'm around.

It's really okay to "cherry pick" in regard to the stories you let into your day. There's enough horror somewhere on the planet at any moment to make us all suicidal, so make it a habit NOT to collect or dwell on those stories. You have a responsibility to create as safe and peaceful a nest as you can for your own family.

Thank you, Heather Booth, for saving that and putting it where I could find it again.
art and photo by Sandra Dodd
(the switchplate near our kitchen sink)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Loving touch, touching love

Touch someone, or something, in a gentle, thoughtful way. Feel with your fingers, or cheek, or hand the warmth or smoothness or softness of something or someone you love.
Keith, Kirby, Marty and baby Holly Dodd
November 1991

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Savor the present

Taste your food, or holiday sweets, and feel the familiarity that you might miss someday.
clickable photo by Sandra Dodd
(well all photos are clickable, but this one leads somewhere)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Listen for beauty.
Holly made the animated gif in 2009,
from photos John Yaeger took during The Monkeyplatter Festival.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The scent of life

Be willing to appreciate a scent that reminds you of something soothing.

Recently it smelled like the mountains right outside my front door. Later I read that the wind of the day before had blown the wintery pollution out of the valley, and that's what I smelled—the air from the nearby mountains on a frosty day.

Baby powder gave me good memories another day.

A Loud, Peaceful Home ("Smell your child's hair. ...")
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 17, 2012


Look for beauty in little things—patterns, or colors.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A calming surprise

I have kids who can sleep as long as they want, who set their alarms and get up; who have all kinds of clothes and no rules, who dress well and appropriately to the situation; who don't have to come home but they DO come home.

Something important is happening.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wouldn't change a moment

"A good chunk of our days are filled with gaming, and I wouldn't change a moment of it. My son is learning so much, is healthy both physically and emotionally, and truly loves his life. What more could I hope for?!"
—Karen James
art by Jalen Owens

Friday, December 14, 2012

Just do the nice things

I think the role of a partner is not to train the other person, not to shame the other person, not to find a time to say "I told you so."

If you just do the nice things, that's what good partners do.

Sandra Dodd: Partnerships and Teams in the Family
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bored No More

The most to be accomplished from punishing or sending bored kids away is that the kids will learn not to go to that parent for advice and ideas.

Sometimes the real message behind "I'm bored" is "I'm little and feeling agitated and vaguely unhappy and I don't know what I can do to get over this uncomfortable feeling. What would you do if you were my age, in this house, on a day like this?"

I think that deserves a helpful, respectful response.

Lego art by Robbie and Robert Prieto (photo by Robert)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A world of difference

Mary Gold wrote:

Just a little change in point of view can make a world of difference.

I used to HATE the resentment of "Why should *I* do this?" and so I just decided to change what I thought about what "this" was and why anyone had to do it. It was a philosophical shift.

BINGO! It's the shift that makes all the difference.

—Mary Gold
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Circumstances and consequences

Questions such as "How important is this, really?" and "What's the worst that can happen?" change people's perspectives in several directions. They might decide the project really is pressing and urgent, but the difference will be that they considered the circumstances, the consequences, a range of choices, and made that decision.

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

If you think that photo has been used before, you might be thinking of this one, from a different London city bus, at the same museum.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A curious cat

Keep your ideas bouncing in unpredictable directions! Let them spring and fly.

"Rum Tum Tugger hooks up" (on the Thinking Sticks blog)
photo by Holly Dodd

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding abundance

Neediness expresses itself differently with different kids. Abundance expresses itself similarly in all.

A family can learn to find abundance rather than lack, even if they're not wealthy.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Foundations of unschooling

Because my children learned to read without having been taught, they have no doubt whatsoever that they could learn anything else. Few things are as important or as complex as reading, yet they figured it out and enjoyed doing it. If I thought I had taught them, they too would think I taught them, and they would be waiting for me to teach them something else.
photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, December 7, 2012

Share wonder

No matter how your children learn, take a few more opportunities to share wonder and discovery with them. It will enrich you all.
All Kinds of Homeschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Some people can't leave school because they're carrying it around like a snail and his shell. They live there, still. School became an ingrown, hard part of them. They still define themselves by their school failures and successes.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a bus my dad turned into a camper
and later my aunt lived in for a while

I had snail photos, but used them already. Doh!
A snail from England and a snail from my yard in New Mexico


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New view

Deschooling means dismantling the overlay of school. Gradually (or just all of a sudden, if you have that ability) stop speaking and thinking in terms of grades, semesters, school-days, education, scores, tests, introductions, reviews, and performance, and replace those artificial strictures and measures with ideas like morning, hungry, happy, new, learning, interesting, playing, exploring and living.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Walking re-set

"I have found that when things get tense, a short 'meditation walk' will really help re-focus my energy...or if the kids come along, we all see new things, and find our joy again by being in a new setting."
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 3, 2012

Luck in life

People come and go and we change each other. We amuse each other if we're lucky and frustrate each other if we're not so lucky.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where learning happens

All the learning takes place inside the learner. None can be inserted by a teacher.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Knot tying can lead to all kinds of history and geography. Hunters, traps, climbing, ships (wrapped bottles, in addition to all kinds of sail rigging and tethering knots), and cowboy stuff, and... or
photo by Sandra Dodd