Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good things

Do good things
for good reasons.
an orange in front of ceramic canisters

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How does it balance out?

When children choose their foods, they will choose things you didn't expect!
monkeyplatter, videotapes, board game
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 29, 2013

Learning in the wild

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unfortunately we learned in school that learning is locked up in books and reading is the only way to get to it. It's not. It's free. We're surrounded by it. We just need to relearn how to recognize it in its wild state."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, July 28, 2013


7/28/13 photo of our cat Nuee, Holly hiding behind, Holly photo

Joanne Murphy wrote:

Just yesterday a friend and I were discussing what we thought of as a distilling 'factor' that must be present for unschooling/mindful parenting to be successful. The factor that came up was TRUST.

With trust, the world opens up, horizons expand and life can seem exciting and limitless. Without trust, the world shuts down, gets narrow and petty. Each moment matters in the wrong way. I want more expansiveness in my life, not less."

—Joanna Murphy
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rediscover wonder

 photo IMG_4621.jpeg"Watch and listen to your kids. Let yourself get caught up in what they find wonderful and in the process rediscover wonder itself."
—Meredith Novak
photo by Colleen Prieto

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some kind of learning

an ice cream truck in Liverpool, ferris wheel in the background

"Learning happens all the time. The brain never stops working and it is not possible to divide time up into 'learning periods' versus 'non-learning periods.' Everything that goes on around a person, everything they hear, see, touch, smell, and taste, results in learning of some kind."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Turn and softly look at your child to see what is fresh and new. Look at your child with awe. See your child with curiosity. Admire your child. You will be amazed.

Turn and softly look
photo by Joyce Fetteroll

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bright morning

"The morning of the world," someone might say, meaning just as the world was new and bright. From this we and our children can talk about and learn about poetry and figurative speech. "The morning of his life..." when likening a lifetime to a day, with its own first light, eventual afternoon, and twilight. These are common references. "In Queen Victoria's day..."
photo by Kathryn Dubay, at Killarney Beach, Victoria (Australia), early one morning

Monday, July 22, 2013


Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

"Unschooling means parents who are connected, responsive, supportive, empowering, and environment-enriching. Unschooled kids don't feel responsible for their learning. They know they can learn whatever they want whenever they want. They're empowered rather than burdened."
—Joyce Fetteroll

The quote was the brightest statement made in the course of a facebook discussion,
but more by Joyce is here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You don't need to know.

Response to a question about how a mother can discover her child's passion or strengths:

You don't need to know your child's strengths and passions. It doesn't matter. Sounds goofy, but it's true.

What you should look for is helping her right in the moment.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of an Easy-Bake Oven, in a thrift store
Thinking the new lightbulbs won't work, but most unschoolers have REAL ovens, unless they're in The Netherlands, perhaps, where (I've learned) ovens are rare.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Healing and learning

Deb Lewis wrote:

Studies are now popping up suggesting laughter makes our brains work better, reduces stress and helps sick people get well...

I don't think humor will guarantee my kid will have a better life, but I know it won't hurt him. If all it does is leave him with happy memories of his childhood and parents, I'll count it among our most useful tools."

—Deb Lewis
photo by Sandra Dodd, of the only funny thing
in Chichester Cathedral

Friday, July 19, 2013

Choose the good things

No parent has to do anything. They choose to do things.
. . . .
Through all the innumerable factors, how DO people decide?

By deciding what principles they are following. Each principle one clings to eliminates about half the choices in the world easily, and in a good way. Each additional principle eliminates some more options, until the world becomes manageable.

One of my guiding principles is that I want my children's worlds to be sparkly.

There goes the dull and the darkness. Easily not chosen, not an option., 2004
photo by Irene Adams

Thursday, July 18, 2013


History, science, gardening, tradition, the physics of simple machines, color, art, children's games, materials, geography...

No matter what topic you choose, what collectable objects you favor or trivia that appeals to you, following that interest will lead you to many "facts" and "truths." Trivia perhaps, but enough trivia will create a detailed model of the universe.

Wheelbarrow things
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beyond the door

"Stop looking at the door. See the richness that exists beyond the door."
—Joyce Fetteroll
(Insert mental image
of your door
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Leaning toward balance

On finding balance:
Lean by thoughts and decisions.
Lean toward what you understand, and what makes sense.

Too far? Lean back.
Just right? Do more with your children, while you're in that state.
photo by Sandra Dodd; Castle of the Moors, in Portugal

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Do we have to learn this?"

fake Central American site, in a hotel in Las VegasMy children have never asked, "Do we have to learn this?" They don't have to learn anything. So everything is equally fun for them. The joy of unexpected discovery is the substance of a typical unschooling day.
photo by Marty Dodd

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Make room in your heart

Be your child's friend.

Make room in your heart and your life and your house for your child and his interests.
Adam in a dragon costume
photo by Julie D

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Changing gears

Deschooling is like changing gears.

Go slowly. Go deliberately.

Don't goof around. Don't stall.

How can both be true?
The clutch and the gas.

photo by Sandra Dodd, recently
coloring by Holly Dodd, years ago
light switch plate by Sandra, years ago


Friday, July 12, 2013

Secret recipe?

Kelly Lovejoy wrote once, in a lively discussion:

I think (almost) *everyone* would like kind, respectful, generous, polite children. I just think they haven't found the recipe yet.
We have!

I responded:

But when I try to tell them, their next thought is that Marty must be just an exceptional human to whom the regular "truths" don't apply.

So few people have seen a person who's not so scarred by social business-as-usual life that they can't imagine it. We've seen it but others don't believe us.
photo by Liam, a houseguest

Footnote to what's above: There are other factors, and not all unschoolers get exceptionally generous children, but when the parents adopt those positive traits and live lovingly, they provide the possibility.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Nurturing our spirit

7/11/13  Nurturing our spirit photo IMG_2638.jpg

"[W]e are drawn to exploring ourselves, to finding that depth of engagement in life, with all its twists and turns and ups and downs. For maybe the first time we really see the value in nurturing our spirit. It stuns us. We marvel that the journey we started to fully and deeply support our children and their learning has turned so completely around and we are learning so much from them about being alive and fully engaged with life."
photo by Colleen Prieto

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I cannot begin to express my joy

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

We have chosen to listen to our children, to pay attention to their needs and their wants instead of telling them that they must conform to our needs and our wants.

It means that for me if Simon (my 8 year old son) asks me to help him play Tales of Symphonia on the gamecube and I happen to be doing the dishes I may ask that he wait the 10 minutes or more likely than not I may just let the dishes soak and come and play with him. The dishes will be easier to clean when I empty the sink and refill it with warm water and I will have gotten to spend an hour with my son talking and exploring and playing and continuing to forge a relationship that makes me so happy I cannot begin to express my joy.
That was from an unusual (for Schuyler) rant in 2007.

Here are some newer words from this ever-thoughtful unschooling mom:
Schuyler Waynforth Interview

photo by Sandra Dodd, of Schuyler's cat in 2009

My Little Pony

Someone had written that she had the urge to tell her daughters to do something more productive than playing My Little Ponies. Others reminded her of the importance of play, and of bonding.

I wrote:
"Production" is for factories. Your children are learning and growing. There is nothing they need to "produce."

I sent her the link on "Focus," but this one is better:
photo by Holly Dodd
(who also styled the pony's mane)


Monday, July 8, 2013


I missed a day. Sunday was Joyce Fetteroll's birthday. She and Rippy Dusseldorp and I were in Delft to shop, and then went to Rotterdam to visit friends, and then back to Rippy's where I was very sleepy. Sitting in the Amsterdam airport following a flight cancellation, I realized I missed one, and won't be in a good place to look for quotes tonight, and so this will be my little offering to cover Monday and Tuesday, July 8-9, 2013.

I love England. Not sure why. Some people love some things without knowing why. This summer I will enter the UK three times (if we make it there okay tonight)—from the U.S., then from Portugal and now from The Netherlands. Into England five times, if I include crossing back in from Wales and from Scotland.

And so I am content. I have been to England enough.
I am grateful that my children are grown and there are people other than just their parents who love them and who are glad to see them and to know them.
Learn Nothing Day will arrive before long, and it will be a long day for me, 31 hours, because I'll be going home from England, on my birthday, to be met by my husband who loves me.

I like this blog and I'm sorry I missed a day.
I like my life, and I'm glad to have people to share various aspects of it with me.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of bunting—hand embroidered crowns, and appliqued Union Jacks, on triangular dags, put out for the Diamond Jubilee, but originally made for Queen Elizabeth's coronation

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Incidental learning

medieval-style art in a tube station
"Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of 'side benefit'."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of medieval art on tile in a tube station in London

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What makes unschooling better?

"Unschooling has only changed with my growing ability to implement it."
—Schuyler Waynforth

long arm puppets, in a shop

from "Four Continents": Schuyler Waynforth, interviewed by Sandra Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 5, 2013

A sweet gift

dad and two little boys playing by a lake
Decision time isn't about what you will do next year or for the rest of your child's life. Decision time is about what you will do in the next five seconds. I recommend getting up and doing something sweet for another person, wordlessly and gently. Never send the bill; make it a gift you forget all about. Do that again later in the day. Don't tell us, don't tell them, just do it.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Twenty days of learning

Ghoj pagh jaj (Klingon, maybe, for "Learn Nothing Day") is in one score of days.
O le aso e leai se mea afia
O Dia de Nao Aprender Nada
Leer Niets Dag
El Dia de No Aprender Nada
Oggi non si impara
La Journée Sans Rien Apprendre
Erster Internationaler Welt-nichtslerntag

Learn now, because it's going to end on July 24.

Score! and counting sheep in prehistoric languages
photos by Sandra Dodd, with thanks to Ester Siroky for taking me there

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Something new

salt-encrusted old coke bottle lying on cracked earth
Learning comes from connecting something new to what you've already thought or known.
photo by Marty Dodd, of a salt-encrusted coke bottle in Utah

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A different angle

Something near your house, or in your town, that you see every day, would be exotic and beautiful to someone from another part of the world. Two things near your house, combined by looking at one while you're seeing part of another, might be worth a photograph and some loving thoughts.

Find beauty where you are today, whether you're a tourist or in your own kitchen.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a roofline near the road in Stroud, Gloucestershire,
in the Cotswolds. Click it to see the larger image.


Monday, July 1, 2013

What unschooling is about

balloons in the produce section of a new grocery store

Rippy Dusseldorp wrote:

Unschooling is about children learning naturally and parents being partners in their children’s learning. Parents create and maintain a rich and interesting environment where children can follow their interests and passions. Children have lots of choices and options available to them. Parents facilitate, help, encourage, inspire, guide, support and love. Children learn, laugh, play, discover, explore, puzzle, build, invent, create, ponder, go on adventures and learn some more.
—Rippy Dusseldorp
photo by Sandra Dodd