Monday, March 31, 2014

To have with you throughout your life

Ben Lovejoy wrote:

I split hairs about rules and principles because I see and have lived with the differences, and I believe they represent two opposing forces in a home and school environment. Principles are internal; rules, external. We enforce principles for ourselves, while others force rules upon us. Principles are something people stand for and seem to have with them throughout their lives. Rules are something people tend to follow and just as soon cast aside once the situation that warranted the rules in the 1st place is over and done with.
Principles represent a standard of conduct that people uphold because the standard stands for something important to them. Principles come from observation, reflection, and active discussions with others. Rules are more like borders that contain someone and can only be crossed with specific permission. They’re usually cut and pasted from another generation’s set of rules, and figuratively hung from the homes and offices of the plagiarists with the same reverence as a diploma. The problem is there is absolutely nothing original or reasonable about rules. They’re hollow and senseless.
—Ben Lovejoy

Part of an analysis of rules, commands, choices and change:
"No Rules-Sir, Yes Sir"
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Something very different

plants in clay pots next to a board fence"Unschooling seems to be able to move through the teen years that are so difficult for most parents with fewer difficult moments. Unschooling is doing something that is very different from other kinds of parenting."
—Schuyler Waynforth
March 29, 2014
Gold Coast symposium

More by Schuyler
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inside their own heads

"Unschooling doesn't magically save kids from making bad decisions or protect them from harm. Nothing can do that. What unschooling parents can do is step back from the idea that our greater knowledge about the world is something we can give to our kids. We can be friends, allies, facilitators, consultants, partners, but they're the ones inside their own heads, making their own connections."
—Meredith Novak *
 mosaic of broken art tiles by kids
(the quote isn't there, but other things are)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, March 28, 2014

Keep learning in mind

If learning is always in mind, learning always happens.Melbourne observation wheel
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The most delightful person

"I want to be the most delightful person in the world for my child."
—Zanna Rickard
 wooden doll furniture that's also a puzzle.jpg
Comment from Australia ALLive session in Melbourne, March 23, 2014
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Right for your child

Rather than look at labels that try to pigeonhole people into being this sort of parent or that sort of parent, be the parent that is right for your child in each moment.
—Laurie Wolfrum
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Patterns and dots

Giraffe to ride, on an outdoor carouselFind, consider, value connections.

Notice, contemplate, appreciate patterns.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 24, 2014


"We're meant to be delighting in who they are, not just accepting."
—Karen Lee

The quote is from a presentation in Melbourne on March 23;
This page is about delight, too:
photo by Bruno Machado

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Respect and acceptance

cast statue of a young person, eyes shaded by hand, standing in the pool of a fountain
Respect and acceptance are more important than test scores and "performance." Understanding is more important than recitation.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Switching words around

Yesterday's quote had the phrase "playful and full of wonder." It seemed to me for a moment that "playful and full" was awkward. But it was a quote. I wrote it last year; it's published.

If it were math, we would make the phrases match—give them a common denominator, or base, or something.
Or they would be commutative. Wonderful and full of play? Full of play and full of wonder?

I think words are wonderful, and it's good to play with them. Sometimes, take the words out of the air, off the page, out of your thoughts and turn them over. Feel how old they are, how solid, how useful. When it comes to language, be playful and full of wonder!
(The words above aren't at the link but other words are!)
photo by Karen James

Friday, March 21, 2014

Playful and full of wonder

Being with our children in direct and mindful ways made us kinder, gentler and more accepting. We were more playful and full of wonder, as we saw the world through their eyes.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, March 20, 2014


wood fire in the dark

"I am seven years old. I am sitting comfortably with a convenient, safe place to rest my face. Safe. On my father's lap. I can feel the heat from a fire. I can hear voices—I can recognize many of them. I hear singing. I feel singing. The vibrations of my dad's baritone voice through his wool clothing…"
—Holly Dodd

Read the rest at
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nothing or something

Despite reports to the contrary, unschooling is not "doing nothing." There's a great deal of doing involved!
fountain made of junk, water coming from a fish sculpture
MomLogic interview, 2010
(the post title is vaguely Vicky Pollard-ish)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

See their wholeness

Sometimes people have a sort of social hypochondria—every problem that's described, they identify with, or fear the danger will get their children. They would do much better to spend more time and attention with and on their children so that they see their wholeness, rather than imagining their vulnerabilities.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let joy replace fear

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.

The quote is from page 136 of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo of Holly and Orion by Sandra Dodd

This is a re-run from 12/31/10, when Holly was a teenager and Orion was a little boy.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Years or an hour

medieval market cross structure with 18th century clock up top, Chichester"Gauge how much to do and when by your child’s reactions. Let her say no thanks. Let her choose. Let her interest set the pace. If it takes years, let it take years. If it lasts an hour, let it last an hour."
—Joyce Fetteroll
Five Steps to Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Visiting a friend who moved to Australia led to a trip with new friends to Kuranda. Others showed me a local bird, and I showed someone the photo, and she identified the crank. Three days later, I saw a real one, and then looked it up, and it led to the Olympics, and the history of Australia, and post-WWII housing booms, and… those all connected to other things I knew.

You can do this, too. You might start with a bird and a clothesline, or it might be any other two things on this planet, or off.
Bush Stone-Curlew
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, March 14, 2014

Intentionally and carefully

For clarity of thought and for value of discussions about unschooling (or anything), it's important to use words intentionally and carefully. If a parent can't tell the difference between "consequences" and "punishment" and doesn't want to even try to, she'll probably keep punishing her children and telling herself it's not punishment, it's consequences. That muddled thinking can't lead to clarity nor to better parenting.
Sandra and Kirby Dodd, under a sign at a barbecue place in Austin

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Give it your all.

In an unschooling chat on March 12, Pam Sorooshian wrote:
I often think this way, "I've thought about this a lot and made my decision. Now I owe it to myself and my family to really truly embrace that decision and give it my all and not be wishy-washy about it."
Special Guest, Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bright and happy eyes

[Of professionals who do research on children:] They're looking at problems, and looking *for* problems.

If you turn and look the other way, you will see fewer problems, especially if you look at your own child's bright and happy eyes. And if your child has bright and happy eyes, do what you can to keep them that way. (the quote isn't there, but it's a good page)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thoughtful and sweet

What you think you "have to" do makes you powerless and frustrated. What you choose to do is empowering, and should be done thoughtfully and sweetly.
looking up into sunshine through a forest of Australian Tree Fern
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 10, 2014

Be, be, and you will be

Karen James (in part of something longer):
If parents wonder whether they should be more generous with their children, I would say yes. The more the better. Not in a give-them-everything-they-want kind of way. More in a give-them-as-much-of-yourself-as-you-can kind of way. Be open. Be generous. Be understanding. Be trusting and trustworthy. Be present. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be patient. Be helpful. Be kind.

You will be amazed at what you see.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

See also Look

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Curiosity and enthusiasm

lizard on a window behind wire"Develop your own sense of curiosity, wonder, fascination, and enthusiasm."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Seeing your roots

trees on a beach at night, roots showing
"Radical" means from the roots—radiating from the source. The knowledge that learning is natural to humans can radiate forth from that point in every direction.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, March 7, 2014

Preventing regrets

Jenny Cyphers, quoting Pam Sorooshian:
I ran across this little bit this morning, from Pam Sorooshian:
Self-recrimination is self-indulgent and not helpful to your children. Be fully present in the here and now. That's the antidote to regret.
Something I like about Pam, is that she says so much in so few words! That one packs a punch! Or a soft hand on someone's shoulder, really.

When people talk about doing unschooling right, to me, this gets at the heart of it! Go and BE WITH your kids, don't let days go by in which regret happens, because the opposite of that is where the magic happens!
More by
Jenny Cyphers and Pam Sorooshian
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Logic trumps reaction

Reactionary isn't always bad, unless someone moves in and lives there.

Do things that make sense.
Chat on Help has the first quote
and is close to the second one.
photo by Gina Trujilla

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Observation and more

"Wondering is what takes people—including children—from observation to something else, to asking questions and looking for answers."
—Meredith Novak
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Change the way you see.

People don't become really good at unschooling without changing the way they see themselves and the world.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Confident and independent children

Jihong Tang wrote:
I was told by being with them all the time, by saying yes white peacock, childmost of the time, by not setting the boundary (in a traditional sense), by parenting without punishment, I would have clingy and spoiled kids. The reality is quite the opposite: they are very independent and well adjusted.

The simple truth: we just spend lots of time together and have lots of shared experience and memory. That makes big differences. It is 365x24x60x60 shared moments (31,536,000 seconds a year).
—Jihong Tang
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Barbie Dictionary, in display of antique toys
How will they learn to learn?

By learning.
photo by Sandra Dodd