Sunday, November 30, 2014


Strength doesn't need to be high-tech or glitzy. Plain, thoughtful underpinnings and principles can be enough to quietly strengthen a family for many long years.
The writing is new, but is a good match.
photo by Dylan Lewis

Saturday, November 29, 2014


As my kids get older...I'm seeing more vividly the results of parenting choices, not just in them, but in their more conventionally parented peers, as well. Generosity begets generosity.
—Caren Knox
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, November 28, 2014

It's all information

Respect trivia.

For school kids, "trivia" means "won't be on the test."

In the absence of tests, where all of life is learning, there IS no "trivia." There is only information.

Principles of Learning (chat transcript)
photo by Sandra Dodd, of tile in Austin

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Safe, respectful and empowering

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling is the opposite of both authoritarian and hands-off parenting. It's neither about creating rules to remote parent nor about letting kids jump off cliffs. It's about being more involved in kids lives. It's about accompanying them as they explore, helping them find safe, respectful and empowering ways to tackle what intrigues them.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Better life

Unschooling can make life better. Really, fully unschooling becomes more philosophical and spiritual than people expect it to.

(the original writing, on facebook)
photo by Lisa Jonick

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

For unschooling to work...

Parents who want unschooling to work should be positive, upbeat, hopeful, helpful.
photo and quote by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 24, 2014

Round, coming around

Lisa Jonick took this photo in a park in Albuquerque where I have been many times. The shadow is round, but flatter than the tree is. Still, the big round sun and a round tree caused that effect.

The dome in the distance there is Explora, the permament home of a children's museum that used to move from storefront to strip mall to basement of a downtown building, while they raised enough money for a home of their own. Some of the displays are things we saw in other locations, as my children were growing up.

Things tend to come around again, in different forms, perhaps, and with different details. Small effects can build up to large ones. A snapshot moment connects space to earth, season to viewer, structures to history, memories to the future.

Find a comfortable way to relax into the flow of life, as often as you can, appreciating the sweet surprises along the way.

The writing above is new, but a good link is
photo by Lisa Jonick

Sunday, November 23, 2014

No doubt

Because my children learned to read without having been taught, they have no doubt whatsoever that they could learn anything else. Few things are as important or as complex as reading, yet they figured it out and enjoyed doing it. If I thought I had taught them, they too would think I taught them, and they would be waiting for me to teach them something else.
photo by Amber Stippy

Friday, November 21, 2014

A happier place

In helping to maintain the nest you have created for your children to grow up in, think of its components. Physical house, kitchen, food, beds, bedding, space to be alone, space to be together—but it's not empty space. It is a space you have chosen to share, and it is a space arranged around you. Have a hopeful, open presence. Be a happier place.

Becoming a Better Partner
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a long-ago Kirby

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A series of selves

Today is Marty's wedding day. I don't yet know how to be the mother of a married person. This is new to me. It is new to all of us.

Yesterday, we stopped for fuel as the sun was rising, in Holbrook, Arizona. I wanted a panoramic photo, but one lone bird was in the shot. I took another without the bird, but when I got a chance to look at them closely, the bird was the best part—repeated as if by magic. That series of positions made me think of Marty's first 25 years, and my gratitude for having aided and witnessed his early growth.

Marty views the world through his own eyes. He is seeing each moment with all his gathered knowledge and wisdom.

I see Marty in all his stages. I remember learning I was expecting a second child. His eyes, when he was a newborn, were full of thoughts. He was gentle, and strong, as he grew. He was patient, and sweet. In each of his stages and sizes, his newnesses seemed to create a new and different Marty. His face changed, his smile, his voice, his shape, and hair. In my heart I have been collecting the whole set.
The photo can be clicked to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Collecting ideas

Some people collect things. Even those who don't gather and store physical objects might like hearing all of one artist's music, or seeing all the movies by a single director. I used to want to go into every public building or business in my home town. I never succeeded, but I saw each building as "yes, have been inside," or "not yet."

It might not make sense to a parent that a child wants to save feathers or rocks or movie ticket stubs. That's okay. What's important is that the unschooling parent accept that there is thought involved that might not need to make sense to anyone else. If possible, the child's whims and wishes about such things should be accepted and supported.

Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions
photo by Sandra Dodd, of someone else's robots

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Doing without a "have to"

The story quoted below is from nine years ago and involves a sixteen-year-old.

Marty is twenty-five now and is getting married in a couple of days.

Marty has an orthodonist appointment at 10:30 this morning, and works at noon. He has gone to ortho alone, and has taken Holly before. I asked yesterday if he wanted to go alone or me take him. He wanted me to go. He asked me to wake him up an hour before. He likes at least an hour before, and usually an hour and a half.

I forgot to wake him up, but I heard his alarm go off at 9:31 (and remembered I had forgotten).

He was tired and I offered to put a fifteen or twenty minute timer on and come and get him, but he said no, he wanted to get up.

There is a snapshot moment in the "don't have to" life of a sixteen year old boy.

I'm not saying that every child given leeway will be Marty.
I'm saying that every person who claims that leeway will inevitably cause sloth is proven wrong by Marty.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Marty, a different morning in those same days

Monday, November 17, 2014

An active experience

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

In my park day group, the unschooled kids with freedom of choice to watch tv really clearly have their critical thinking engaged when watching tv. They "work" to get the joke, for example, on the Simpsons. They ask questions—they make connections to other things they know. TV is a more active experience for them than other kids. I know this from listening to them talk about it.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo is a link

Sunday, November 16, 2014

One way or the other...

green garden hose, swirled, tangled, on carpet, with a cat standing on it looking up

So how do you choose? You decide where you want to go before you decide to turn left or right, don't you?

Just like that.

The way to know the right direction is to identify the wrong direction.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Avoid punishments because...

No matter how "peaceful" the punishment might be, it still involves power and judgment and has a loser. A winner and a loser. Ultimately several losers, because the parents lose out on the chance to undo it, and the grandchildren might suffer similar losses of choice, freedom and happiness if the children aren't shown a better way.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
photo by Lisa Jonick

Friday, November 14, 2014


It can be a happy spiral upward, when feeling better about being a good mom makes one a better parent, and the child smiles and laughs, and the mom relaxes more.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a spiral Rex Begonia

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Attentive, engaged, or zombified?

TV, its critics say, will cause a child to turn into a zombie. So does reading a book—they sit just staring. So does going to a concert, if they're polite concertgoers. So does attending a play—if they know how to go to a play, they will sit there for two hours with only one break, staring at the lit-up stage, not moving. Maybe laughing when appropriate, but going right back to that stony stare. Movie theater, same thing. Nobody says "I'm not taking him to the movies anymore; he sits there like a zombie."

Translation for Brits: "Cinema, same thing. Nobody says "I'm not taking him to films anymore; he sits there like a zombie."
photo by Alicia Gonzalez

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to be

Unschooling works well when parents are interesting, positive, thoughtful, considerate, generous, passionate, honest, respectful individuals.
—Deb Lewis
 photo DSC00651.jpg
photo by Sandra Dodd, of some cows just being

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lots of factors

Once upon a time (in December 2003), there was a very busy day. My kids were 12, 14 and 17 or so:

Yesterday we had from seven to seventeen kids here, in various combinations and not all at once. It was a madhouse. Seven was my low count because there are still seven here at the moment. At one point two were gone and were coming back, one was half-expected (and did show up) and Marty wanted to go to the dollar movies to see "School of Rock" with a subset of the day's count. Holly didn't want to go; her guest from England did. Kirby half wanted to go; the girls coming back wanted to see him particularly. So the discussion with Marty involved me helping him review the schedule, the logistics of which and how many cars, did he have cash, could he ask Kirby to stay, could we offer another trip to that theater the next day for those who'd missed it today, etc. I could have said "yes" or "no" without detail, but it was important to me for it to be important to Marty to learn how to make those decisions. Lots of factors.

Is there a difference between a Radical Unschooler and just an Unschooler?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 10, 2014

Choose to have fun!

"Choose to have fun! Fear will hold you back. Guilt and shame will set in to cloud thinking and stunt progress. Having the courage to have fun in whatever pursuit thrills you most will most likely lead you to places you never expected to go."
—Karen James
photo by Lisa Jonick

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Your present moment

Embrace your present moment instead of yearning for what you don't have. I love the saying 'the grass is always greener where you water it.'
—Clare Kirkpatrick
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The most important part

A mom named Maya wrote:

Living from principles, rather than fears, is the easiest way to grok unschooling, as far as I can tell. (But maybe it isn't easy, because it took me a long time to figure that out for myself, haha. I was all, 'what is all this rules vs. principles stuff anyway?' Now, in my unschooling, it seems like the most important part.)
The forum where the original quote lived is gone now,
so I'm glad I had saved it!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 7, 2014

A gift to the giver

"Being there unconditionally for our children nurtures the beautiful side of the human spirit that resides in each one of us. It cleans it. Reveals it. Keeps it fresh. It feeds it. It brings it to life. Makes it grow and helps it thrive. It's a gift to the receiver and to the giver, and it leads both parties to a greater understanding of what it means to love."
—Karen James
photo by Karen James

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy, fun dishes

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

We get our dishes from thrift stores, mostly. If one of them bugs me, it can go back to the thrift store.

Sometimes when a mom is really frustrated with doing the dishes, it can help to get rid of dishes with bad memories and connections, or put them in storage for a while. Happy, fun dishes with pleasant associations are easier to wash.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why not?

racing on a dirt road
"Why not" has helped me loose many constraints learned in childhood.
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a race with a human finish-line

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The world all around them

Sometimes people ask how homeschooled children will move out into the world. Our children were never anywhere but in the world. They were present with us as much as they wanted to be. We let them be other places, without us, when they wanted to be. The world was always all around them, and they were always in their place in the world.
photo by Catherine Forest (a link to its home)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Feel full

If you dwell in the empty half of your glass, life will feel empty. If you dwell in the full half of your glass, life will feel full.
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stand there gently

"Parents stand between school and their kids, but also between their kids and the hurts of previous generations. If they can stop those hurts being passed on, who knows what their kids can do!"
—Claire Horsley
three bird houses on poles, above a porch with flowering vines
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Joyful memories

Look back and smile.

Think of happy moments and be glad you can remember.

Glazed tile art of Betty Boop in the style of The Day of the Dead
The Evidence of Years, by Deb Lewis
photo by Sandra Dodd (click it)