Saturday, May 31, 2014

The beauty around you

"Look at what you have, not what you do not have. If all you focus is in negative things that is all you will see. If you always look for the positive slowly you will, more and more, see the positive and the beauty around you and that will become who you are."
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 30, 2014

Knowing peace

The more local and personal peace there is, the more peace there will be in the world.
. . . .
If we raise the level of peace our children expect, they will know what peace feels like.

Read what Esther Maria Rest wrote, at
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Be very engaged

"I made my marriage very important to me. I chose to be very engaged in my marriage as a part of raising children."
—Schuyler Waynforth

tree with white bark
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A world of input

There is an artistic motif known as "the tree of knowledge." I don't know how old it is, but there are also artists' trees known as "tree of life" and sometimes they're very similar.. . . .

Thinking about this concept though, in light of my children's never having gone to school, has brought lots of thoughts welling up in me about our culture's worship of books, both in what's good and understandable about that attitude, and also of the ways it has been and continues to be harmful and unreasonable in light of Howard Gardner's writings about multiple intelligences and of the "information age," which gives even non-reading children access to a huge world of input.
image inked in by Sandra, but black-and-white art is from an old bookplate

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm not guessing.

I'm confident. I'm not guessing unschooling can work, I know. I've also seen how it can fail, through my correspondence and discussions with so many other homeschooling families.
I'm not hoping that kids can still get a job without fifteen years of practice bedtimes; I know they can. (And they would've been "practicing" for the wrong shift anyway.) I don't conjecture that kids can learn to read without being taught, I know. It's happened at my house, in three people's lives.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Just because it *can* work doesn't mean that a family can't fail. If you're going to unschool, do it well. Find your own confidence. Help is available.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What kind of peace?

How can peace help learning? Is peace always a subset of "peace and quiet"? Is quiet always peaceful? What is the value of a peaceful environment to unschooling and how can parents help to create and maintain that? What kind of peace are we after and how can we get some?

Sometimes just asking the questions can be helpful, but if you want to hear a free sound file of me talking about that sort of thing, here:
photo by Caroline Lieber

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Best and highest good

Everything is turned to its best use and highest good insofar as we’re able.trees painted up on the windowless side of a two-story building
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Science experiment, festival, and a game

Once there was a little discussion on facebook where I said that Learn Nothing Day was like a game, and you join in by showing you know how it works. In response to a question, then, about whether it's a holiday or a game, I wrote:

Well... it's a holiday when people demonstrate what they've learned about learning by attempting not to learn, which is kind of a science experiment and kind of a festival and sort of a game.

More than one thing is happening.

Learn Nothing Day is July 24
photo by Sandra Dodd, on a carousel in Austin, Texas

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two-way change

Unschooling is more than just the absence of school. As we change, our perceptions change, and the perceptions of others toward us changes.
photo by Brie Jontry

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What is choice?

Holly in a little-girl muumuu climbing up the walls in the hallwaySomeone was writing about what she "had to" do.

My response (saved by Schuyler Waynforth; thanks!):

You are inviting powerlessness into your life and keeping it there by using that phrase.

You wrote -=-how freeing it was to realize we didn't have to KEEP UP-=-

How much more freeing to think "we can choose not to keep up." It might seem to you the same thing, or the other side of the same coin. But coins' sides are NOT the same.

Choice is not the other side of a "have to" coin. It is the antidote to a have-to poison. Choice dissolves the roof and ceiling of a have-to cell.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Happy choices

I did my time in and around school, and learned things painstakingly and grudgingly that my children later learned while laughing and playing and singing. I have guarded my children's freedom and given them happy choices that I didn't have.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Marty in the 20th century

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A time and a place

[Riding in a car] is a great time and place for humor, news, and deep conversation.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 19, 2014

Roses and different directions

People need to start and go, but they don't have to race at breakneck speed or never look back. "Going" sometimes just means going one step and smelling the roses! Sometimes the most important steps are those where you're still standing in the very same place, but looking a different direction!
Sandra Dodd, July 2003 discussion
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 18, 2014

More and better

billboard that says 'There is no Poop Fairy,' with a photo of a cartoon dog pooping and a cartoon fairy, telling people to scoop their poop

The question "What do I have to do?" is a world apart from "What can I do?" "What am I allowed to do?"
. . . .
My kids have been really good employees wherever they worked because they were not trained to just do what they had to do and to just do as little as they had to do.

Small bit transcribed from talk I gave in August, 2010
called Unschooling: How to Screw it Up
(you can listen to it at that link)

photo by Sandra Dodd, which is related only by theme

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Embracing and supporting

Colleen Prieto wrote:

"For me I think the biggest applications of unschooling in terms of my marriage are the ideas of embracing and supporting other people's passions and interests—not just my child's, but my husband's too. And accepting people for who they are, not trying or wanting to change them or 'fix' them. Valuing everyone in our family for who they are and working together to meet everyone's needs. Unschooling is good for marriages."

—Colleen Prieto
photo by Joyce Fetteroll, of Marta's family

Friday, May 16, 2014

Picture it clearly

pole-and-wire-loop gate in a barbed wire fence
One easy way to decide how to be is to picture clearly what would make things worse, and then not do that.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Patient, attentive, calm and accepting

"None of us are perfect; we'll all have some regrets. But with my kids 19, 16, and 13, I can now say that I will never say anything like, 'I wish I'd let them fight it out more,' or 'I wish I'd punished them more,' or 'I wish I'd yelled at them more.' I will only ever say that I wish I'd been more patient, more attentive, more calm and accepting of the normal stresses of having young children."
—Pam Sorooshian
whose children are now 29, 26 and 23,
and who became a grandmother day before yesterday
I'm guessing Roya or Cyrus might have taken that photo; I don't know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Respect your kids

boy with huge Japanese drum"Respect your kids. Too many adults DEMAND respect from kids without showing any respect in return. Doesn't work."
—Lyle Perry
How to NOT Screw Up your Kids
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Enough to share

Abundance in one person provides benefits for others. A child with all the trust he needs can trust others. A child with all the time he needs can share that time with others. One who has freedom won't begrudge freedom in others.

lawn cart full of split wood, in the house

How to Raise a Respected Child
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 12, 2014

Choice makes a big difference

Plain milk tastes WAY better if it's your choice than it does when it's plain because someone else wouldn't let you put chocolate in it.
How to Raise a Respected Child
Como criar a un niño respetado
art by Laura Mascaró

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A good mom

Nothing has ever made me feel better about me
than the feeling that I was being a good mom.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gradually cooler

My world's pretty cool. It has become gradually cooler since I had kids and have tried to figure out how to make THEIR worlds cooler. Mine got the side benefit of what I learned about how to help keep them happy.

crate of videos and DVDs at a garage sale, with the Japanese anime series 'Fruits Basket' prominently shown

I don't know where I wrote that, but someone saved it.
Have a randomizer:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 9, 2014

It doesn't hurt to think about it.

In response to questions from critics…

Some things I've said:

"This is working for now. If it stops working, we'll do something else."

young friends watching a video in the dark"Thanks. I'll think about that." (Or you could say "We thought about that," or "I think about that all the time.")

Mostly people want to know you heard what they said, and that you have thought about what they're suggesting. It doesn't hurt to say that you have, or that you will.
photo by Julie D

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Helping one another grow

Of her birth family, Rippy wrote:

My family used to regularly travel to India to a Sikh ashram where we were encouraged to examine our thoughts and words. The philosophy there was that helping one another grow into more loving, mindful people is one of the greatest acts of service one can do.
—Rippy Dusseldorp Saran

Kinder and More Compassionate

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Don't bother

Pam Sorooshian's description of a talk she plans to give:

Unschoolers don't bother with lesson plans, curriculum, assignments, tests, grades, workbooks, homework, or other academic requirements because we have discovered that children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment, surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise us with what they know. If children are supported in following their own inclinations, they will build strengths upon strengths and excel in their own ways whether those are academic, artistic, athletic, interpersonal, or whichever direction that particular child develops.

Pam Sorooshian, for the Free to Be unschooling conference
in Phoenix, September 2014.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Avoid struggles

"Struggling with a disorder" is not as good as living with choices and looking up instead of down.

Find ways to relax, rather than to struggle.
Peace for Unschoolers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 5, 2014

Better at understanding

For all the "be gentle" that parents give their babies about how to touch cats and dogs, the parents themselves aren't always so gentle. Over the years of having children grow up around our dogs and cats I became more compassionate toward the pets. Having learned to communicate with and to understand non-verbal babies, I was better at understanding "non-human-speaking" animal companions.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Caren Knox, in response to a request about how to meditate:

When the boys were younger, I'd sit when I could, but I noticed that thoughts of "needing" to meditate were pulling me away from the moment *with them*. So I'd get centered in that moment, breathing (three deep breaths is magical), noticing sounds, smells, where my body was. Momentary, but being able to be in the moment changed and flavored the next moment, and shifted it toward peace."
—Caren Knox
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Changes happen.

strawberry growing in a clay potChanges happen in us and around us.

Our children grow. We grow. Old things fall away. New things appear.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 2, 2014

Patterns and angles

What you see every day can be seen in a different way.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Playing with dolls

Holly was here today. She's 22 years old now. In this photo, she was 14 or so.

teen Holly sitting up on the side of a pickup bed, with a baby dollToday she was trying out a new basket, for the possibility of being a babydoll bed. She has a babydoll collection. She was carrying one of her favorites around while we were talking, and asked me seriously why, when she has had it out in public, people have reacted so oddly. The only acceptable answer seemed to be that she was taking a class of some sort, and needed to carry a baby doll. Otherwise, they didn't know how to respond.

I gave her some possible responses to use ("I really like it" or "He feels almost like a real baby" or something conversational), but the real answer was that there is often pressure on kids to stop playing with certain things at certain ages. Baby dolls, maybe by the time girls are eight or so. Boys even sooner (if they were allowed to play with a doll at all).

Holly grew up without much pressure to conform to arbitary age rules. I'm glad.
photo by Sandra Dodd