Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Able to see learning

young child playing full-size arcade Super Mario Brothers

The parents must be willing to believe that their children can learn.

Unless your children are given a real opportunity to show you how children learn, to show you that it works, you will not see it.

The parents have to be
   willing to see learning
      able to see it
         and desirous of seeing it.

You can kill unschooling on the vine with "That won't work."
photo by Lisa Jonick

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wonder what

Take a few more opportunities to share wonder and discovery with them. It will enrich you all.
photo by Julie D
see in wheelbarrow blog, too


Sunday, December 28, 2014

The good parts

Look at the immediate benefits of your decisions.

Look for the good parts of today.

Look for the value in this moment.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Making a family's life better

Some have written that unschooling made their family life better. In every case I've seen, making a family's life better is exactly what makes unschooling work well. So which comes first? Neither grew wholly in the absence of the other.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, December 26, 2014

Confidence and logic

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

I didn't get to observe radically unschooled kids before coming to the conclusions I did about how children learn. I'm sure it helps build confidence to see grown unschooled kids—that's why my kids and I make ourselves available. But it isn't necessary. For me, it required confidence in my own logical thinking ability. I reasoned things out and did what made sense to me.
. . .
My willingness to think for myself—to analyze, critique, to be open-minded, and to trust my own conclusions—that was how I came to understand unschooling.
—Pam Sorooshian

Understanding Unschooling
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, December 25, 2014

See good, be good

We can't live as we are forever, but we can try to live with fewer regrets, and with patience, and with gratitude.

Be as good as you can be as often as you can be.

Becoming the Parent you Want to Be
photo by Holly Dodd, of herself, in India

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hearts renewed

Yesterday's post went out in e-mail with the title "Light on light." It should have been "Bright and glowing." You might think "Same same—light is light," but there was a post called Light on Light already. I'm particular about light, sometimes. Okay, I'm more particular about words about light.

Here's a verse I wrote for a Christmas card twenty years ago, and today's the best day for it.
Abundant joy,
   a special toy,
      warmth and firelight,
         carols at twilight;

Memories of old,
   children to hold,
      comforting food,
         and hearts renewed.

Twenty-year-old Christmas card
art by Kirby Dodd and a team, in 1994
Light on light

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bright and glowing

 photo gingerbreadtrain2_zpsfd81cf17.jpg

"I am noting how happy and light (light as in gentle, and bright and glowing) our daily interactions are compared to the past."
—Dominique Trussler

photo by Julie D, gingerbread train __

Monday, December 22, 2014

Protection and enrichment

Each tree grows from a single seed, and when a tree is growing in your yard what is the best thing you can do for it? You can nurture it and protect it, but measuring it doesn’t make it grow faster.
large, old tree from below
Pulling it up to see how the roots are doing has never helped a tree a bit. What helps is keeping animals from eating it or scratching its bark, making sure it has water, good soil, shade when it needs it and sun when it needs it, and letting its own growth unfold peacefully. It takes years, and you can’t rush it.

So it is with children. They need to be protected from physical and emotional harm. They need to have positive regard, food, shade and sun, things to see, hear, smell, taste and touch. They need someone to answer their questions and show them the world, which is as new to them as it was to us. Their growth can’t be rushed, but it can be enriched.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Don't count, don't measure

Don't divide anything "fifty/fifty." Forget that concept. Give what you have. Do all you can do. Give/do 80% when you can, but only measure it vaguely, at a squint, and then forget about it. If you aim for half, there will be resentments. If you aim for 100%, small failures will seem larger than they need to be, so don't do that. You can succeed at "lots" without measuring.

If each of you gives as much as you can, your shared needs will be fulfilled more quickly, more easily, and more often.

cat watching a flaming fireplace, red wall, tea cup on a low table

That was advice sent to our friend Sadie, for her bridal shower. It works for roommates and other dyads, too. I quoted it here:
photo by Lisa Jonick

Friday, December 19, 2014


I can't really speak to any "end results," because they're still growing and experiencing the newness of many firsts in their lives. If there is ever an "end," the results won't matter anymore. But as long as life continues, the results unfold.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of baby Holly
who is now 23, and visiting India

Update 11/10/20: ... is now 29; finalizing a house purchase tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Transformation through choices

Choices have transformed our lives.
Limitations do not transform lives. They limit lives.

ceramics in an antique shop
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not the same choices

"Happy, supported, trusted kids don't make the same choices as unhappy, controlled kids."
—Joyce Fetteroll
small cheese balls shaped like pumpkins, in a store display
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Beautiful, vibrant and alive

hot air balloons, two nearest are shaped like the heads of Yoda and Darth Vader
If a child has a joyous excitement for music, or sports, computers, poetry, horses, golf or dance, nurture that without owning it. Smile at it without naming it something bigger than your child. Treat is as a butterfly, beautiful, vibrant and alive. Don’t stab a pin in it, label it and stick it in a display box to show everyone the details, and try to keep it as it is forever because then you take the life of it away. YOU own it, and not the child, then.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Monday, December 15, 2014

Improve life!

"It feels so much better to be doing something active to try to improve life than it did sitting around worrying about it!!"
—Cass Kotrba
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reading will happen.

Reading will happen, and if it takes longer for your child than you think it will, keep them happy and distracted in the meantime. As their experience and vocabulary grow, their reading will be that much more effortless the day they're fully equipped to understand the written word.
Three Readers
photo by Quita Gray

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Doing this deeply

Unschooling is not as easy as some people think it is. It can be fun, and simple, and life changing, if it is done deeply and thoroughly.
wall made of suitcases and trunks, stacked up, in a cafe in Chichester
Thanks, Marta Pires, for saving that quote.
photo by Sandra Dodd


Friday, December 12, 2014

Peace on earth

In a longer discussion, Joyce Fetteroll wrote that people should be focused on helping a child "peacefully co-exist with the rest of the planet."

Meredith Novak added:Catholic religious candles on a grocery-store shelf
I think this is really key. If you're focused on who's "right" or which "side" to take, that's going to narrow down both your perception of the situation and the options you can envision.
Helping maintain peace within families is a direct contribution to peace on earth.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More patience

I didn’t expect unschooling to make things so sweet between me and Keith.
Partly Keith's just a nice guy, but principles that applied to the kids applied to the adults, too, and we all experienced and shared more patience and understanding.

The more I got to know Marty, the more ways I saw him like Keith, and because I was sympathetic to those traits in Marty which had bothered me in Keith, I became more sympathetic to and understanding of Keith.
photo at Marty's wedding

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


 family on roller coasterUnschooled kids should learn what they want to learn, and have fun doing it. If happiness isn’t even a goal, life is of little value.
auto-bot photo of the Dusseldorp family

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sparklers at midnight

Ren wrote:

When my children ask me to light sparklers up at midnight, my auto-pilot mode says "That's not something we do this late at night!" but that lovely little "why not" goes gently swirling through my mind, growing louder as I pause. Why not indeed?
—Ren Allen
photo by Andrea Quenneville

Monday, December 8, 2014

Full and open

Help a child be full of the world—full, and open, with experiences and connections flowing in and through him. At peace, curious, joyful.

If an unschooling family honors a child's interests, answers his questions, supports his curiosity, provides for him a place to sleep, and a variety of food and opportunities, it shouldn't matter what those interests and questions are — he will be learning and growing.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Grow and thrive

We helped each other grow and thrive.
—Karen James

orchids in small pots in a windowsill
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Out the window

Friday, December 5 photo of a window that's not there anymore now. Marty lives in our old house and we got new windows installed yesterday.
All my early unschooling articles were written within arm's reach of that window. I especially remember looking out while thinking of phrasing for "Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life" whose URL is

The new window is good.
The old window is history.
History is good, too.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beyond compare

Unschooling is the ultimate individualized learning situation, and comparisons are unnecessary.colorful connected houses along a canal in Holland
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Frolic! Delve.

Frolic! Delve.
Catch it in your peripheral vision.
photo by Bruno Machado

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


"Sometimes the measure of unschooling's success isn't how much a kid meets normal expectations, but how much sweeter and easier life is."
—Meredith Novak
(original, on facebook)
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

For learning to really flourish

small indoor carousel called 'Excalibur'

"Being Ethan's mom changed me. I surprised myself in good ways. In learning to give to him, I grew to really like myself. The walls started coming down. I started to soften—to have compassion for myself.... I challenged myself to continue to do better, because I now knew I could. I had a found confidence in that new truth. Honesty and humility too. All good things for learning to really flourish."
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd