Saturday, August 31, 2013

Be still

Until a person stops doing the things that keep unschooling from working, unschooling can't begin to work.

It seems simple to me. If you're trying to listen for a sound, you have to stop talking and be still.
stripey sandtone hills in Utah

Some people want to see unschooling while they're still teaching and putzing and assigning and requiring. They have to stop that FIRST. And then they have to be still. And then they have to look at their child with new eyes.

If they don't, it won't happen.
photo by Marty Dodd, in Utah

Friday, August 30, 2013

Not so extreme, please

If the old rules were that school is vital and "an education" (defined as the curriculum of an ideal school) is necessary, will the new rules be that school is not important and an education is not necessary? We don't make school disappear by turning the other way. It's still there. Our kids might want to go to school someday, in some form. We don't deny that knowledge is important by becoming unschoolers, but many come to prefer the idea of "learning" with its vast possibilities over the narrower "education."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 29, 2013

You don't have to make choices.

screwdrivers in a homemade blockThinking you "have to" do something keeps you from making a choice.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bigger and Better

A mom who's going to help a child learn from the whole wide world should herself become ever increasingly comfortable with what all is IN the whole wide world, and how she can help bring her child to the world and the world to her child.

Unschooling should and can be bigger and better than school.

If it's smaller and quieter than school, the mom should do more to make life sparkly.
spiral dragon slide at a playground
photo by Kirby Dodd

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All that is good

Be his partner, not his adversary.

Help him find and do and explore the things he's interested in doing. Encourage him. Facilitate and assist. See all that is good about your child. (there's a transcript, too)
photo by Susan Burke

Monday, August 26, 2013

Finding peace today

Sleep can be peace.
Food can be peace.

Sleep / Peaceful Homes / Naps
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of a Taco Bell sign in Bangalore.
It says "Visit Mexico for 18 rupees," more or less,
and it was a vegetarian taco.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

There is safety in happiness

Holly and Adam in costume

I think the most dangerous thing for a kid is unhappiness. When a child wants out and away from parents, then things outside the house can seem appealing—even questionable strangers in cars with tinted windows, who will say "meet me in the alley."

And that has been happening since before the internet.

from a chat on Internet Safety and related, suprising matters
photo by Julie D

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Music lives in the air

Music doesn't live in notes on paper, it lives in the air.

People can be VERY musical without knowing how to read or write music, just as people can be very verbal, tell stories, be poetic and dramatic without reading and writing.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sustainable learning

old wooden wagons, falling apart, broken wheels, in the desert in Nevada

This is more of a “why to” than a “how to.” The “why?” in unschooling can be answered with “To create sustainable learning.” Our children have curiosity and joy to last a lifetime.
photo by Marty Dodd, in Nevada, March 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A touchy subject

mermaid cushion.jpgIn response to "I guess if I was totally honest, I think there are a lot worse things the kid could be doing the viewing dirty pictures."

I wrote, "And there are better things parents can do than create situations that cause their kids to lie and sneak."
The quote is from,
but the thought might be more about masturbation.
It won't be a regular topic, but people with older kids might need the links.

photo by Sandra Dodd

P.S. I called this "A touchy subject" but I considered calling it "Don't Add Light."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


bird perched on an 'area closed' sign

My children are about as free as they're going to get, honestly. Always have been. Yet there are all these real-life limitations and considerations.

from the transcript of a chat on "Freedom"
photo by Colleen Prieto, of a legitimate exception

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Living proof

"We don't have to be tested to find out what we've learned. The learning will be demonstrated as we use new skills and talk knowledgeably about a topic."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 19, 2013

Enough trivia

Enough trivia will create a detailed model of the universe.

Sign in Liverpool: Humped Zebra Crossing

Joy said "That is a poem," about the text above, when it appeared here. I decided to create a new page for this poem to link to.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Relax into it

Unschooling is easy for children, once parents relax into it and come to understand it. It's a way of living with children in a life based on sharing a joyous exploration of the world.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Don't miss it

flag on a boat in Liverpool

"If I wasn't paying attention, and if I was afraid of the time Ethan spends at the computer, I would miss all of the creativity and learning happening. Worse still, Ethan might too, because my worry would become his burden."
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd
of a flag on a boat in Liverpool

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


signs at an old shop

Please be careful with words, because they say what you're thinking. Be careful with thoughts because they affect the way you're responding to people.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 12, 2013

Playful experimentation

Children learn from playing. They experiment with tools, materials, textures, movements, sounds. They imitate the older people around the. They imitate animals, and fictional characters. They try on voices, faces, postures and ideas.

Parents should encourage and facilitate their playful experimentation.
 photo accordian.jpg

Learning Styles and living big
, on the Always Learning discussion
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rain and sunny days

water drops forming a footprint"If it's raining, focusing on what you can do instead of the walk you wanted doesn't make it a sunny day! But it does make a day of rain more pleasant."
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Polly Griffiths, of an accidental pattern

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Unschooling should be...

Unschooling should be about peaceful, supportive relationships, about modelling consideration and thoughtful choicemaking, and about learning.

Sandra, with two kinds of vines, eight feet up
photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, August 9, 2013

Give generously

If you want to measure, measure generously. If you want to give, give generously. If you want to unschool, or be a mindful parent, give, give, give. You'll find after a few years that you still have everything you thought you had given away, and more.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hold on to something

Instead of requiring that my kids had to hold my hand in a parking lot, I would park near a cart and put some kids in right away, or tell them to hold on to the cart (a.k.a. "help me push", so a kid can be between me and the cart). And they didn't have to hold a hand. There weren't enough hands. I'd say "Hold on to something," and it might be my jacket, or the strap of the sling, or the backpack, or something.

I've seen other people's children run away from them in parking lots, and the parents yell and threaten. At that moment, going back to the mom seems the most dangerous option.

Make yourself your child's safest place in the world, and many of your old concerns will just disappear.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 67 (71 of newer edition)
photo by Sandra Dodd
__ __

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

That's all. Just that.

If I saw [unschooling] simply as a means to get them to college, I might be nervous. I see it as a way to live. I don't see it as keeping the kids out of college or hampering
Holly and Adam making Christmas cards
their opportunities for formal learning if they go that route. I'm not holding college up to them or me as "the goal." The goal, for me, is that they will be thoughtful, compassionate, curious, kind and joyful. That's all. That's not asking much, is it? I think if those traits are intact in them, they will continue to learn their whole lives.
photo by Julie D
Words 1998; Image 2013.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Being a father

Frank Maier wrote:

Being a father means participating in, and belonging to, the world around me and not just sitting quietly, being an observer. I have learned from my family and blossomed within my own inner geography as much as the kids have blossomed and grown into the wide world around them. As with most kinds of growth, it's difficult to see the changes on a daily or short-term basis. It's when you look back over a longer period that you really see, and are amazed by, the amount of growth that has happened.
—Frank Maier
(I took an "also" out of the first phrase.)
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, August 5, 2013

A bigger payoff

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Think about what is REALLY important and keep that always in the forefront of your interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't "pass on" something you don't exemplify yourself.

Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful.

Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Is that responsible?
Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Do more.

If you don't feel like you're doing enough, do more.

Karen James remembered me writing that, and a few years later she repeated it to another mom, with a nice addition: "Do more. Have fun. In my experience, it's truly contagious!"
translucent soft-plastic toy peacock
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Right and true

Live your life in such a way that other people will trust you. When you make decisions, make generous, selfless decisions so that others benefit. When you say something, do your best to say what is fair and right and true. When you write, write things you don't mind people taking out and sharing.

A person is only trustworthy if he has earned trust, if he is worthy of being trusted.

BENEFITS beyond just "be a better parent"
photo by Marty Dodd

Friday, August 2, 2013


"Compass rose" is a beautiful term for directions set in tile, or stone, or metal, or painted... It's a symbol for knowing what's what and where's where—where the viewer is, in relation to the rest of the world.
mosaic compass rose, outdoors
The word "encompass," meaning to surround and enclose, can be a soothing concept, for parents and families.

Within that compass, there are options. As children grow, the size of the encompassing circle expands.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 1, 2013


"One dark spooky night not so long ago, under a full moon and while the wind 5-year-old developed a fascination for monsters."
—Amy Kagey
Monster Mania
and one monster leads to another...
photo by Colleen Prieto