Friday, January 31, 2014

Look for joy

Look for joy inside and outside of you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning: sucked in, not pushed in

Weeding out terminology we would prefer not to mean improves thinking.
. . . .
Every time someone says "taught" or "teach" they can slip back into the whole school thing and be seeing the world through school-colored glasses. If they do what it takes, mentally and emotionally, to recast their reports and then their thoughts in terms of who *learned* something, then they can start to see the world in terms of learning.

The last holdout for some people is "he taught himself..." but maybe that should be the FIRST to go. Teaching comes from someone WITH skills or knowledge passing them on to those without them. If I taught myself to play guitar, I would have had to have known how first.
. . . .
I learned from everything around me, from trial and error, from watching others and asking questions.

The information was being sucked in by me, not pushed in by me or anyone else. I didn't PUT the information inside me, I drew it in.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of bricks with Florida on the other side

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Generate joy

When you learn to give, it starts to flow, and the others around you are soft and giving and a family can generate a lot of joy!

sky and clouds reflected on a car

Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions, transcript of a chat
photo by Sandra Dodd, of the same clouds reflected twice

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How and why

People can only learn what connects to what they already know. The more one knows, the more one can learn. And THAT is how, and why, strewing works.
photo by Julie D

Monday, January 27, 2014


Ice is a good bathtub toy. Some people suggested freezing a little toy inside ice, like in a popsicle mold. Just ice can be fun, frozen in a bundt pan or some kind of mold. Jello molds (large or small)—we have a copper fish mold, and a fish made of ice is a bathtub toy you don't have to clean up after. Regular ice cubes can be fun, too.

Winter note: Icicles from outside, or snowballs, could be fun in the tub, too!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Share things

"As an unschooling parent, one of the most fun things to do is to share things with your child that you think they might be excited about or to do things with your child that they tell you they are excited about, just like you did with them when they were little. It keeps the enthusiasm of life and learning alive!"
—Laurie Wolfrum
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, January 24, 2014

One lovely lifestyle

hummingbird, to ride, on a carousel
Ronnie Maier wrote:

That's the best thing about unschooling, having all of those L-words bundled up into one lovely lifestyle.
—Ronnie Maier
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a hummingbird for riding

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unseen futures

It's not easy to tell the profound from the trivial as it's happening. Sometimes the profound slips into the "not so important" category when I'm not looking. Occasionally I remember one thing or another that seemed just a little goof at the time, but ultimately, somehow, changed my life.

"We all are preparing for our unseen futures."

The quote is from Art, Aging and Spirituality
photo by Dylan Lewis

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lasting happiness

"Fun is serious. Fun is important, especially for kids. Don't underrate fun. People who are not happy as children seldom find easy or lasting happiness as adults."
—Deb Lewis
photo by Susan Burke

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A constant flow of choices



Make choices that lead toward making life better. Not one big choice, a constant flow of choices every time you're going to say something or do something, all day, every day, starting now.

From a new, unfinished page:
(I removed one word, for this post.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy, happy, happy.

caps on a hatrack—Mario one-up, Rio Grande Zoo
Deb Lewis's words:

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.
—Deb Lewis

Modelling Joy
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Expansive connectedness

circus poster taped inside glass door in Capitan, New Mexico
When I was sixteen, I was in a humanities class taught by Sam Jamison, my chorus teacher. I remember how it felt when I realized that science, art and history were all the same "subject," and that it included people and language and music. It was a feeling of expansiveness, of blossoming. I remember exactly where I was sitting. Whatever he had said, or whatever connection I had just made from something I read or saw in that textbook changed my life right then and there.

When I was an English teacher, I always tried to include connections and references to other subjects, hoping to induce that awakening in my students, or at least to give them the parts they needed to assemble that during an idle moment sometime in their future.

Subject Areas and Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Peaceful sleep and sweet dreams can come from gentle parenting.
photo by Holly Dodd, of Albuquerque, from a high point in a neighboring town

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


In a chat once I was asked what I meant by "calm."

Calm is calm. Not frantic, not excited, not frightened or frightening. Calm, like water that is neither frozen nor choppy.

Calm is possessing the ability to think, to consider a situation without panic.

Calm is not perpetually on the edge of flipping out.

Who can Unschool? (chat transcript with links)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

YES! Just like that.

two mourning doves on a cinderblock wall, with a tree as background

My favorite part of unschooling is that it never begins nor ends. When someone finally “gets” unschooling they often say with recognition and a quick life-review, “Oh! We’ve always done things like this,” or “Oh! Just like they learned to walk and talk!” Yes. Just like learning can continue throughout a lifetime.

It is so simple that people can’t believe it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, January 13, 2014

The clock isn't hungry.

Perhaps "eating by the clock" has roots in European manor houses filled with servants, where the lady of the house got to choose the times of meals (within the narrow window of what was considered right and proper). In more modern times, eating by the clock has to do with factory lunch breaks and with school bells.

Don't be the clock's mother. Don't watch the clock to see if it's time to eat. Watch your child. Or watch the clock to see if it's time to offer another snack, but don't let the clock say "not yet" or "Must EAT!"

It isn't good parenting or self control for an adult who has reproduced to be looking to a mechanical device to make decisions for her. Clocks are great for meeting people at a certain time, but they were never intended to be an oracle by which mothers would decide whether to pay attention to a child or not. Your child knows whether he's hungry. You don't. The clock doesn't either, never did, and never will.

from page 163 of The Big Book of Unschooling (page 182 of newer editions)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Find something to smile about.

Beginners, aim for once per day—one extra smile.

More experienced unschoolers, raise that to several a day, and then once per hour.

Before long, you'll be smiling easily and more often than you could count.

You'll know you're significantly happier when just the thought of counting smiles will make you smile.

Sparkly Unschooling
photo by Marty Dodd, of a floral merry-go-round in a hotel in Las Vegas

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Living in a learning world

"My kids think learning is what life is for. And I agree with them."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, January 10, 2014

A generous, compassionate parent

Being a parent changes people but being a generous, compassionate parent is far above and beyond what happens if a parent goes with the flow of separation, cry-it-out, daycare, pre-school… and they forfeit the ability to see their children directly, and to know them intimately.
From a chat, once....
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Means, encouragement, time and space

If the child is allowed to sit with mom or walk across the room, read or not read without pressure or fanfare, walk or not walk as he wishes, if his environment is kept comfortable (taking his personality, fears, needs into account when arranging his comfort) and if he has the means and encouragement and time and space to explore his ever-expanding world, he will learn.
photo by Sandra Dodd, at a tile museum in Lisbon

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Are you there yet?

The words are Joyce Fetteroll's, quoted yesterday by Robin Bentley, and I lifted them because they're good:
If there is one thought that will help you understand unschooling and respectful parenting it is this:

      The primary goal is joyful living.
      All other goals are secondary.
All decent parents, of course, want their children to be happy. But they assume that sometimes happiness needs to be sacrificed to get something better.

But for unschooling, peaceful parents meeting any goal must also meet the goal of living life more joyfully.
Holly on the tiled throne at the Rio Grande zoo

"Are we there yet?" (center column, halfway down)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, January 6, 2014

Practice with this

Finding ways not to be grumpy about dishes is a good model and practice field for other choices in life.

 four ceramic goblets
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, January 5, 2014

You'll know.

"How do you know they're learning?"

The people who ask that question are looking at the world through school-colored glasses. Those same parents knew when their children could use a spoon. They knew when the child could drink out of a cup. They knew when walking and talking and bike riding had been learned.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Connections and cross-connections

If one thing makes you think of another thing, you form a connection between them in your mind. The more connections you have, the better access you have to cross-connections. The more things something can remind you of, the more you know about it, or are learning about it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, January 3, 2014

A rich environment

Unschooling is arranging for natural learning to take place. It involves having a rich environment and respecting children's ideas and interests.

That definition is from an April 2010 interview, Why I Unschooled My Three Kids
The photo is Holly, by Holly.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

If you eliminate "have to"...

carousel elephant and zebraIf you eliminate "have to" from your thoughts, it's like driving a nice standard transmission rather than riding in the back of a crowded bus. If you see everything as a conscious choice, suddenly you are where you have chosen to be (or you have a clear path to moving toward where you would rather be).
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Step up

Holly on a picnic table under a post-and-beam arch at night

Who you are, no one else can be.

Who you are now is not who you were before. Who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow.

Breathe and smile and step toward your future.
Holly in Quebec; photographer unknown