Sunday, March 31, 2013


Pam Sorooshian, in a 2009 chat/interview, wrote:

Every time someone starts thinking they should do something because someone else said it was a good idea, they should stop. And they should think right then about their own child and about whether it is a good idea for that actual real child. When people call themselves experts, warning lights should probably go off.

Real expertise shows itself by the good ideas, the modeling, the understanding you get from them. Real experts don't need to call themselves experts or promote themselves as such.

—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good things swirl

Adam, young, on a kids ride

Debbie Regan wrote:

Children prosper when parents are able to provide enough sense of safety, calmness and support, that feelings of peace and joy are close at hand. From there the business of childhood—exploring and learning about the world can progress unimpeded by stress. Stress is a distraction from the natural flow of curiosity, focus, joy, excitement, engagement, creativity, emotional awareness, learning...

The more peace and mindfulness I bring in my home, the more all those good things swirl around.

—Debbie Regan

The quote was in a passing discussion, but you might like this:
photo by Julie D

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sweet and good

Find the best in each moment, the best moments in each hour, and by focusing on what is sweet and good, you will help others see the sweetness and goodness, too.
photo by Sandra Dodd


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tweak this

People seem naturally to want more, and to want better, and to have the urge to tweak and improve their lives and their surroundings. Don't deny the restless desire that enables people to explore and invent, but while looking ahead with hope and plans, look around with gratitude, too.

You might like
but the quote above is from page 185 of The Big Book of Unschooling,
and also here.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A certain flow or rhythm

 photo PA230127_zps5d933ad7.jpg

Aiden Kathleen Wagner wrote:

"I think as you listen and try to partner with your child, you will find a certain flow or rhythm....

"I think what most children crave far more than routine is to be able to feel that their physical and emotional needs are going to be met in a timely and appropriate manner. Where there is not communication and awareness, they may cling to routine as the only way of making sure those needs are met, but when you are trying to listen and understand and be a partner, routines have the possibility of becoming a roadblock to a better relationship."

—Aiden Kathleen Wagner

From a discussion on Radical Unschooling Info in March, 2013
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thinking, seeing beings

Children have been whole, thinking, seeing beings since the day they were born. Assisting them to learn and to find their strengths and to explore the world and its possibilities is preparing them for their unseen futures.

Mommy-labs Interview, October 2012
("Children" replaces "they," to allow the quote to make sense out of context.)

photo by Julie D

Monday, March 25, 2013

Unschooling takes more

Alex Polikowsky described unschooling for people who think there's nothing to it:

Unschooling takes more,
more presence,
more guidance,
more attention,
more mindfulness,
more connection,
more thinking and questioning,
more choices and better choices.
photo by Dylan Lewis

Sunday, March 24, 2013


If you're trying to listen for a sound, you have to stop talking and be still.Crow on a bare wintry tree, cold sky
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Open and willing

I don't worry anymore that my children won't learn everything they need to for this life. I also see that joyful learning can only happen if we are open
and totally willing to see every moment, every interest, everything as opportunity. We never know what a tidbit of information, or an experience might lead to...and not knowing can bring a sense of mystery to this whole Unschooling life. If we keep that sense of mystery, that feeling that this COULD lead to big things, (but if it doesn't that's ok too) we will so much better be able to serve our children well when supporting and encouraging their unique interests and pursuits. That's what it's all about for me.

Being an avenue instead of a closed door.

—Ren Allen
April 2002
photo by Sandra Dodd

I did use this squirrel on another post. If you follow the link to the rest of what Ren wrote, you'll know why I brushed it off for this. I saw this squirrel in Lyon, France. It was carved in the 17th century (at least the carving above it says "Maison fondeƩ en 1684").

Friday, March 22, 2013

Learning will flow

The more curiosity and exploration and creation you have at your house, the more effortlessly learning will flow.

And THIS makes it easier to unschool
photo by Sandra Dodd, of art by Keith Dodd, against a New Mexico sky (front brace of a Viking a-frame tent)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Out there

After eleven twenty-two years of unschooling I still forget sometimes that the information that was doled out to me on a schedule is just OUT there for my kids, that they find it interesting and that they have no reason to avoid adding it to their fascinating collection of trivia about places, people and the world around them.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of eight-year-old Holly, far from home

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keep it clean

If you don't feel you will be happy, then you won't be. The largest part of happiness has to do with gratitude and joy. Either of those can be snuffed out by the recitation of ills.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of an old tree stump at Sandia Crest

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Look, look, look

Look at the learning.
Look at the passion.
Look at the child.
—Patricia Nespor Platt

 photo 000_0197.jpg
photo by Kirby Dodd, excited about a game, but not Minecraft

Monday, March 18, 2013


The difference between poverty and abundance is sometimes the ability to see what one has. There have been times when I didn't have a car, we had a leaky roof, and the washing machine wasn't working. There have been more times that the car and washing machine were functioning, the house was solid, and I forgot to appreciate it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Every little thing a parent does goes into the plus column or the minus column. Each parent is gaining credit or losing credit. Everything counts—words, tone, patience, generosity, interest, kindnesses and thoughts. It takes more to build your credit back up than it does to waste it, so be careful.

You might like to read about respect,
though the quote was from a facebook discussion in 2013
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a kinetic sculpture a person can affect,
at ¡Explora! ("Ballnasium," by George Rhoads)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Trees and Plants

Here is another change in my life, from years of unschooling:

I even garden differently than I used to. I certainly didn't expect that. I have let trees grow their own way without frustration on my part, and appealed to my husband not to prune so much. I have found things for vines to grow on that aren't fancy or store-bought. The vines are going to cover it up anyway. I've let native plants go ahead and grow, if they don't have stickers. Some of them are really pretty, and they want to grow there. If I destroy them and put in some foreign plants, will the neighbors be impressed?

Considering what is natural in my children, and what I can't control and shouldn't even try to control, has made it easier for me to look for what's "natural" in nature. That seems pretty obvious, written down that way, but many people want to control trees, and grass, and flowers. I don't mind influencing them and encouraging them, and nurturing them, but "to control" them? I don't even "control" tumbleweeds. I pull up any I find and put their little carcasses in the compost pile. That's tumbleweed euthanasia, maybe, but not "control."

The quote is from page 278 (or 321) of The Big Book of Unschooling,
and you might want to look at some tumbleweeds I've touched.
photo by Sandra Dodd, and it's a link

Friday, March 15, 2013


It's a huge investment in the future, to be generous today.

 sunset over the pacific, rocks in the foreground

Chores (transcript of a chat)
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dangerous thoughts

The words of Pam Sorooshian:
People should shush the tapes in their heads and think for themselves. Be brave.

The VERY first thing that really shook me up in listening to unschoolers was at a talk Sandra gave—she said it was okay to think dangerous thoughts. I decided to try it.

I've been thinking, "What if....." ever since. I'm addicted to thinking dangerous thoughts.

From a 2009 chat/interview with Pam Sorooshian;
photo by Marty Dodd

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm glad...

Sometimes when my kids were little I would express a positive thought aloud.

"I'm glad we can afford to go out to lunch sometimes," or "I'm glad we have a car and enough gasoline to go to the mountains!" Or "I'm glad our cats are nice."

And don't do it to train them. Do it because it's true. It will be uplifting, in that moment to kind of put a blessing on it.

from the January 2013 chat on gratitude

photo by Sandra Dodd of a car in Lyon, France, 2012
Here's the other side of it:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


When I talk about attachment parenting, I'm talking about the idea that if you allow a child to be near you as much as the child desires, without pushing him away or leaving him anywhere against his will (not at the neighbors, not in a dark bedroom) he will grow more gently and solidy, and you will be a better parent for being with him so much that you really, truly know him and he fully, honestly has faith in your presence and your love.
a multi-textured bed quilt, close up of loose folds
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 11, 2013

Magical robbery?

model biplane from Legoland Windsor
There is a kind of magic thinking that says television can rob people of their imagination, but that if parents sacrifice televisions, children will be more intelligent.
. . . .

[A]mong unschoolers there are many who once prohibited or measured out TV time, and who changed their stance. Learning became a higher priority than control, and joy replaced fear in their lives. I can't quote all the accounts I have collected, but I invite you to read them.
Photo by Sandra Dodd, at Legoland Windsor, of the kind of plane kids can see on TV!

The quote is a re-run on this blog, because it's four minutes to midnight and I forgot to make a post today! I blame a nap, the lyrics game on facebook, and daylight savings time!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Explore your neighborhood

You could think of yourselves as tourists in your own town. What museum or historical site or interesting natural feature have you not gone to see, or maybe haven't taken your children to lately? Pretend you're only in town for two weeks and do some cool things.

Or if that seems awkward to you, import a tourist. Maybe an unschooling family could be persuaded to come and visit you, and you could take them sightseeing and also discuss unschooling. Just let the kids play, though, and play with them or watch them. Look at what they're drawn to. Look at how they examine things or what they ask about. Don't be teacherly in your responses. Answer them as you would a tourist friend who was visiting town. Tell the good parts in an inspiring way. You don't need to put it in historical or political context.

Give one cool fact and if they want to know more they'll ask. That's how conversations work. Have conversations.

The quote is from page 15 of The Big Book of Unschooling,
in the Deschooling section, but here is something similar: (bottom of the page)
photo by Marty Dodd

Saturday, March 9, 2013

No stopping place

The edge of unschooling is not a solid line. It will depend on the principles by which a family intends to live, and the philosophy of learning and parenting through which they see the world.

For me, learning has no stopping place, and so there are not days or places or times that are "learning time" (or unschooling time) and others that are "time out" or time off. (Well, there's that one holiday, Learn Nothing Day, July 24.)

page 38 (or 41) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Leiden

Friday, March 8, 2013

Learning is internal.

Learning is internal. Teachers are lovely assistants at best, and detrimental at worst. "Teaching" is just presentation of material. It doesn't create learning.
photo by Sandra Dodd, out the front window

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A quiet, soft place

What kind of partner did baby Kirby Dodd need? He needed someone to pay attention to him if he was uncomfortable, and to make sure he was safe. He needed someone to help him access the world, to see it, to experience it safely. He needed a quiet, soft place to sleep. Maybe it was on me or on his dad, in a carrier of some sort, or a sling. Maybe it was right next to me in the bed.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of art on the wall outside Bhava Yoga, in Albuquerque

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Glad to be wrong

When I had been unschooling for several years, I still dreaded and joked about how different it would be when I had teens. I expected what I thought was "natural" and what was probably inevitable teenaged behavior.

It turns out that much of what is considered "normal teen behavior" is a normal reaction to many years of school, and to being controlled and treated as children and school kids and students rather than as full, thoughtful human beings.

Being wrong doesn't bother me one bit when the truth is so much better than my fears and predictions!

from page 251 (or 292) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd, 2005 at a movie-character theme party
Kirby as Casey Jones from the first Ninja Turtle movie
Marty as Dr. Strangelove (←click there to see him in the chair with glasses)
and Holly as Addie Pray from Paper Moon


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Environmental factors

In the quote below, "it" could be replaced with
  • home
  • life
  • your nest
  • your children's day
  • yourself

Make it happy and funny and comfortable and exciting so that they want to be with you. Be sparkly.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 4, 2013

Voices in your head

In your head, you have some repeating-loop messages. Some are telling you you're doing a good job, but I bet some of them are not. Some are telling you that you have no choice, but you do.
Scanner image by Sandra Dodd (it's a link)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wholehearted change

James and baby Adam Daniel

The purpose of unschooling is not to change the parents; it's to provide a personalized learning environment for each child. Doing that does change the parents, though, if they do it wholeheartedly.
photo by Julie D

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The deepest trust

Make a mental note of those times when you know in your soul that this is really working well. Those mental notes help you gain understanding, confidence, and ultimately build trust in the process of unschooling, and in your children. The deepest trust happens when you see it in action for yourself, when your understanding meshes with your experiences.
—Pam Laricchia
Free to Live
photo by Sandra Dodd, of stairs, steps, and shadows

Friday, March 1, 2013

Learning in quirky ways

I'm completely sure of unschooling because I believe in people's desire and ability to learn wonderful things in quirky ways if they're given the opportunity.
photo by Sandra Dodd