Monday, June 30, 2014

Grab hold

"When I stumbled across unschooling I grabbed hold. I read and I tried things and I moved further away from the childhood I had known to the parenthood I wanted to know."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gateway ideas

"At the gateway to the garden there was always a gate keeper…"

dark yard, wooden gate backlit with a vulture sitting on the gatepost

From "The Beautiful Park," by Robyn Coburn
photo by Kristiva Stack, of her gate and a visiting vulture

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Peace is a prerequisite to natural, curious, intellectual exploration.

What is peace, then, in a home with children? Contentment is peace.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 27, 2014

Knowledge, ideas and stories

We appreciate people who can share knowledge, ideas and stories with us.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Joy, awe and magic

By someone who sees service in a very positive light:

kitchen sink, wall of windows, flowers on the sill
"It is a matter of choice. You choose to serve others, to see it as a divine gift and to be filled with joy, awe and magic. You could also see it as a simple unpaid chore and feel miserable and make everyone miserable. The act is the same; the attitude is different and so the atmosphere you create is different."
—Manuela Jaramillo
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Abundant connections

Unfold upward and outward. Expand one connection at a time. Laugh when you can.Dusseldorp siblings hugging downhill from photographer, Alpine village in valley, with mountains across the way, no sky visible
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, June 23, 2014

Everything special

"Looking through some old photos. I just really liked this one. Nothing special. Everything special."
—Karen James
photo by Doug James

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The big idea

Here's the big idea: If children are allowed to turn foods down, they're not forced to eat, and they're given choices, they will come to choose good foods, know when they're hungry and when they're not, and actually learn to listen to their bodies and know what they need.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mothers have this power

"Life can never be perfect, but mothers have the power to make it a little better, a little better, and a little better."
—Sandra Dodd

La vida no puede ser perfecta, pero las mamas tienen el poder de hacerlo un poco mejor, un poco mejor...
—translated by Yvonne Laborda
hands, choping cheese to go with chips, fruit, veggies
photo by Karen James

Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't send the bill.

Change takes time. Don't send the bill. Don't "be nice" for two months and then say "I was nice and you weren't any nicer to me!" Be nice because being nice is better than not being nice. Do it for yourself and your children.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Knowledge and experience

You can't and don't need to "trust 100%."

You need to see the progress in your own children's life. Then it's not "trust." It becomes knowledge and experience.
dyad, canal, colorful houses
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An atmosphere of support

"Don't become emotionally invested in your child's choices. If you want to invest your emotions, invest them in creating an atmosphere where kids feel supported in trying what appeals to them AND turning down what doesn't."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Character traits

wall-mounted brass bell by a wooden door, decorated with flowers

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Homeschoolers think a lot about learning—but they often focus on learning to read, write, do math, or learning science or history, etc.

Unschoolers tend to take that kind of learning for granted, it happens along the way. Instead, as we get more and more into unschooling, we tend to focus on things like kindness and creativity and honesty—all those character traits that will determine "how" their learning will be used in their lives.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 16, 2014

Whirl and twirl

With extra energy, people can do two things at once. If one of those things is pattern-building and physical, that whole verbal part of the brain is still available. Working on patterns in silence allows one’s mind to whirl and twirl. Doing something non-verbal while talking has a special advantage: Silence is not awkward.

More on each end? Patterns in Silence
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More positive

In a world of choices, every choice that moves one toward positivity (hope, optimism, joy, sweetness, peace) and away from negativity (cynicism, anger, disdain, dismay, pessimism) is a solid step toward "better" (IF the person wants to be more positive).

In a world of partnership, when one partner is more positive, the partnership is more positive.

In a home with a mother, when the mother is more positive, the family's life is more positive.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Notice and enjoy

"Notice how awesome your children are. Enjoy them, be grateful for your days with them and enjoy what they are enjoying. They will blossom in that light."
—Debbie Regan
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hear this

"I found early on
     the less I talked
          the more I was heard."
—Karen James
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, June 12, 2014

More than "moderation"

Colleen Prieto wrote:

I hope I have instilled a sense of abundance, not moderation, in my 11 year old. I hope he will love, enjoy, think, create, eat, sing, play, read, watch, go, see, and do in whatever amount or volume makes him smile. I hope he will never look at an opportunity, or a person, or a cookie, and think "I'd really like to do that, or hang out more with him, or try that" and then stop himself because his goal is moderation rather than happiness.
—Colleen Prieto
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Right now. Today.

Joyce Fetteroll, from a presentation:

Think in terms of creating a lifetime learner rather than creating a standard foundation or framework. If we give them the gift of confidence that they can learn anything they decide to, that there's no time limit to learning, no point when they're done, then we've opened every door possible for them.

Think in terms of right now. Today. Help them be who they are right now.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd
(click it to enlarge; click that again for a close-up)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Simply seeing

leafless tree by roadside with line of mountains behind

Look at things others might not see. See their shapes, their backgrounds. Light changes. Wind comes. Things were once younger, smaller, newer. They will be older, different, gone.

See what's around you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 9, 2014

The ABC's of Unschooling

Mary G. wrote in 2002:

When parents first stop using a curriculum, they sometimes feel as if they are left with a big hole in their family's day where the textbooks and worksheets used to be. They know there must be thousands of ways to live a day, a week, a life on their own terms and with the unique recipes of unschooling. But where to start? And what exactly does an unschooler do all day?

Obviously each family's answer will be different. In fact, each person's answer will be different. But there are some wonderful resources, ideas, tools and activities that many unschooling families have used together on their journey of unschooled learning. Here is MY family's version of the ABC's of Unschooling.

A: arts & crafts, animals, acrobatics, acting, alphabet magnets, art galleries, art classes, Anime, archery, allowance, A&E, Animal Planet, American Girl, Aerospace Museums

B: board games, books, books on tape, bike riding, baby-sitting, balloon animals, Brain Quest, basketball, baking, building, beading, braiding, bubbles, Boy Scouts, baseball, bird watching, bowling, blocks, building toys, bugs

(Read much more at the link below.)

The ABCs of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 8, 2014

When life is easier...

Meredith wrote on Radical Unschooling Info:

Learning depends on the perspectives and experiences of the individual. That's the heart of unschooling—that learning isn't something you can control from the outside.
colorful wedding party food, outside in sunshine

What you can do "from the outside" is to work to improve another person's experience. You can be kinder and sweeter and more helpful. You can make his or her life easier. When life is easier, learning is bigger, broader, more expansive. There's no magic to that! When you aren't focused on meeting basic needs, you can explore more complex needs. When you aren't hungry, you can focus on things more interesting than hunger. When you aren't arguing with someone about what you "should" eat, you can explore the far more interesting questions of what appeals to you and why, and in what combinations.
—Meredith Novak
photo by Sandra Dodd (of party food
not so easily made, by Teresa and Laurie for a reception)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dressing up

Costumes, make-believe and juxtaposition touch on art, real life, and being in the moment.
Peace and Beauty
photo purchased from fiverr

Friday, June 6, 2014


"Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now."
—Caren Knox
hand pump, for water, in woods
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fiddle around

Pattern tiles, magnets, puzzles, kits and other such fiddlin'-around stuff are good for children and adults both. They create opportunities for parents and children to interact in wordless or talkative ways, as suits the moment.

(Or you could go play miniature golf.)
indoor miniature golf hole with fire hydrant and manhole cover
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The light gets brighter

covered bridge, from dark interior, view of tree in sunlight at the end
In the beginning, unschooling can seem like a long, dark passage, but you will start to see the light and soon the darkness will be behind you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Do, Do, Don't.

If you feel you should be doing more for your child, do more.

If you feel you should be being with your child more, do that.

If you feel you should be doing more with school and schoolishness, back away from that. That is NOT your child.
black and white glass chickens

From the closing comments, Always Learning Live, Rochester MN, June 1, 2014
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 2, 2014

Not just luck

"[It helps to] recognize how lucky I am that I get to do this life. I know that it's not just luck, it's a lot of work and thought and reading and breathing and patience and curiosity and exploration."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shockingly efficient

Julie Daniel owns a company that advises people on efficiency and productivity. I interviewed her and asked whether unschooling had seemed inefficient. Her husband works with her, and she quotes him:
When I first started to explore unschooling one of the things I found very exciting was how amazingly effective and efficient it is. My husband, James, says it is 'shockingly efficient'. There isn’t any of the wasted effort that goes along with trying to entice someone to pay attention to something that they don’t care about. We notice what Adam is interested in and we think about what else he might find interesting and we provide opportunities to explore those things.

Mostly when people think about being 'organised' they think about structure and predictability. For me the point of being organised is to achieve a particular objective. I actually really like that I don’t need to have a lot of structure to achieve the goals of exploring cool things, learning about the world and having fun. Of course some of the basic organisational skills that I have learned do come in handy, like knowing where to find things that I’ve saved and keeping track of our calendar so we know where to be and when. But in terms of Adam’s learning I don’t feel the need for structure and predictability because I can see how incredibly efficient his natural learning process is.

—Julie Daniel
The Efficiency of Unschooling (interview)
photo by Julie Daniel