Thursday, December 31, 2015

Leading lightly

John Quincy Adams is credited with having said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
The sentence above came from a post by an unschooling dad, Sean Heritage. In the post he's talking about his unusual approach to his job as a Commander in the U.S. Navy. Some of his ideas might have been inspired by his unschooling experiences, but Sean's ability to see in the way he does must surely be making unschooling easier at his house.

In your family, in your unschooling, in each dyad/partnership within your family, if you inspire dreaming, learning, doing and becoming, you'll be leading in an exceptional way.

Sean's writing from which I pulled the quote: Unicorns and Fairies

Being your Child's Partner is probably the best match on my site.
photo by Megan Valnes

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Peace and joy

Life isn't all peace and joy. Many people will say that, and it's true.

With hopeful, positive intentions and with ever more mindful choices, there can be more peace, and more joy.

Being a Happy Mom

photo by Lydia Koltai

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

When a tree is growing...

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. 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 Andrea Justice

Monday, December 28, 2015

Side by side

I think being side by side with someone is a good way to focus attention away from eyes yet still on them, so they can speak without the intimidation and confusion of your face right in front of them.
Eye Contact
Leaning on a Truck
photo by Becky Sekeres

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quiet enough to hear

"They don't need my direction much of the time, but they need me to pay attention to what is happening *in case* I'm needed. I need to be quiet so I'm not filling up their world with my noise, and so that *I* can hear as well."
—Sarah Thompson
photo by Susan Gaissert

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Kids will want to taste snow. Help them find some that's clean enough. Same with icicles. You might know what dirt is on the roof, but let that go; find a cleanish one.

Kids will want to touch snow, see it, smell it. Just the other day a kid in my yard was talking about how different it sounded, walking in it on the third day, than the first day. It was squeaky, when it compressed.

What seems old and normal to you will be new to each child who is born and sees things for the first time. Be patient and generous and maybe you can see it again, as though it were new to you, through their eyes.
photo by Ruqayya

Friday, December 25, 2015


See, appreciate, and encourage imagination.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Simple beauty

If you can see the beauty in plain and simple things, the world will be more beautiful.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Be glad to find things in life that can help you choose a good direction.
Photo by Charles Lagacé, in Nunavut.

Marie-France Talbot, the mom, wrote:
"Snow inuksuk (inuktitut for person subtitute) made by my husband and sons. They are usually made of rocks and they indicate direction."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Security and abundance

"Being generous and giving as much as possible to our children gives them joy. It also breeds generosity and creates a feeling of security and abundance. More is more."
—Anna Black
photo by Jane Clossick

Monday, December 21, 2015

A sense of peace

"Radical unschooling can bring about such a sense of peace with one's own self, that it can be poured into the being of another."
—Megan Valnes
photo by Sam Baykus

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Humming along

Debbie Regan wrote, to someone afraid a child was "falling behind":

"While schooly people are focussing on that fictional finish line, the real world is still humming along. People are walking around and past the fretting throng, living interesting lives, doing cool things, being productive, enjoying life."
—Debbie Regan
photo by Talia Bartoe

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Personal connections

Each idea, object, concept, person, song, motion—anything you can think of—has personal associations for you. You have an incalculable mass of connections formed in your brain and will make more today, tomorrow, on the way home, and in your sleep.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, December 18, 2015

Calm awareness

Provide an environment in which they can grow in such calm self-reflection and awareness that they can learn naturally from the things around them.
photo by Erika Ellis

That quote is almost out of context,
though it's half of a sentence, word for word
from the page linked above.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Depth and breadth

Everything counts, and every connection made increases the depth and breadth of the map of the universe each person is building. It makes it easier to learn the next few things, because there are more places to hook the knowledge.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


In weaving, one thread touches all the others. At first, learning is in one place, play is in another, and work is in a third. Unschoolers can gradually become people whose lives are made of learning and togetherness. When play has value, and parents see learning in everything, the fiber and substance of the family's life change.

What is woven into your life is part of your being.
photo by Nancy Machaj

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Think joyfully

"Think creatively. Think joyfully. Cultivate an attitude of enthusiasm and awe at as many things you can find in a day, especially the ordinary things or those things you've looked upon with skepticism and fear."
—Karen James

Karen James, Unschooling
photo by Ve Lacerda

Monday, December 14, 2015

Watch quietly

Thoughts don't show. Provide opportunities and time. Watch quietly. Don't break the spell.
photo by Jennie Gomes

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Being transformed

[There is something interesting] at the crux of the difference between being an unschooler and being however we all used to be before. We had this expectation of how we might be with our children, or how we might be with our spouses, our friends, or neighbors, or roommates. And then something big starts to change. And our attitudes change. And our "being ourselves" changes.
snow angel photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What we give

"What makes our happiness as a family is not what we get from each other, but what we generously give."
—Tori Cotta
photo by Rachel Singer

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gaining faith

We can't know what children are thinking or learning. Two children "learning together" aren't making the same connections. With experience and practice, parents can gain faith in the processes that make unschooling so effective and wonderful.

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Celeste Burke

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Way to go!

Choices are the way to go. Moms can practice them first, and help children have and make them as years go by.
two girls looking up what kind of sea weeds they found on the beach
photo by Eva Witsel

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Be glad

Live in the moment as well as you can and be glad of happy surprises.
Living in moments
photo by Andrea Taylor

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reflecting on shadows

I like this photo. A lit-up tree made both light and shadow.
You affect other things; things affect you.

Try to be happy, because happiness creates a better effect. You will be in shadows, and create some. You will be in the light of others, and some light will shine from you, on you, and through you.

Reflections, Projections and Shadows
photo by Abby Davis

Monday, December 7, 2015

Being valuable

"If we live our values, it's likely our children will value them too. If we impose our values, it's likely our children will reject them."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Light and peace

Many traditional observances involve fire—from candles to fireworks to bonfires.

With apologies to readers in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the tropics, here is a link to Deb Lewis's List of Things to do in the Winter

photo by Bea Mantovani

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Intangible gifts

For many families, this can be a time of stress and love and joy and exhaustion and fear of failure, concerning procurement and presentation of food or presents.

Remember intangible gifts. Remember to be kind and quiet and sweet, around and through the sound and swirl. Be grateful and express your gratitude to others, for help, for health, for being, for smiles, and for love. Touch and speak gently.

photo by Meghan Pawlowski

Friday, December 4, 2015

Safety net

"The goal isn't to set them free. It's to ease back on where they don't need a safety net anymore."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Keep the peace

How NOT to watch movies:

Don't be cynical and critical and dismissive. Find the good acting, the good sets, the good props. Don't say "OH BROTHER." If there's a movie you really don't like, don't watch it with your kids.

This link has a new list. While I was in there editing,
I saw the note above, by me, from 2010.
Movies for Unschoolers
photo by Janine
(not of a movie; sorry)


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Doors to creativity

"Unschooling has inspired us all in so many ways, and opened doors to creativity that among other worries and insecurities we just didn't have time for before in the rush and busy of that old life! But mostly I needed to be inspired and have something meaningful and of value to write about, and now I have found it in this wonderful world of unschooling, and making so many new friends, and just so much positivity it's fantastic!"

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Open your mind and heart

"Every time I opened my mind and heart to something my kids loved or were passionate about, or just enjoyed, I learned more about my kids and my life, and theirs, became richer."
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Jennie Gomes

Monday, November 30, 2015

Any child would flourish...

"I think any child would flourish in a loving, supportive, interesting, fun, resource-rich, nurturing, stimulating environment."
—Amy Childs

Who can unschool?
(from Amy's podcast series on unschooling)
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, November 28, 2015

In thought and awareness

When someone recommends turning full on toward the child, that means don't keep reading your newspaper or your computer screen. Pause the video. Put down the gardening tools. It doesn't mean stare at the child until he finishes his story. It means to be WITH him, with him in thought, and with him in emotion if needed, and with him in awareness.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp,
of Adam, Julie and James Daniel


Friday, November 27, 2015

Look for moments

Karen James wrote:

Look for moments in the day that are good—especially the ordinary moments. Pause and appreciate them when you see them. Let them set the mood for how you move forward. Listen for pleasing sounds. A giggle. A child's breath. Your own heartbeat. Some music. Close your eyes, notice and appreciate those sounds. Find the ones that make you smile. Let your smile soften your mood.
—Karen James
Original quote from a post at Always Learning, November 26, 2015.
photo by Julie D

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not enough hands?

Instead of having a rule that kids had to hold my hand in a parking lot, I would park near a cart and put some kids in right away, or tell them to hold on to the cart (a.k.a. "help me push", so a kid can be between me and the cart). And they didn't have to hold a hand. There weren't enough hands. I'd say "Hold on to something," and it might be my jacket, or the strap of the snugli, or the backpack, or something.
"Hold on to something" or what?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quiet reflection

"Please take time for reflection. Take time for your mind to be calm and quiet."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Thank you"

A good project for this season: Maybe send a thank-you note.
Not to me.

Send a thank-you note to someone who has helped you this year, or maybe deliver one by hand to the nicest person at your grocery store, or a neighbor who smiles and waves.

Maybe someone has been nice to you online, and you could send an e-mail or a facebook message.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Other factors

It's hard to explain unschooling, partly because the best answers are "it depends," followed by questions for the parents to consider while they're making their decisions.

It depends on time available, time of day, safety, resources, the effect on other people, need for food or rest, and other factors I can't think of right now.

Some days a certain request would be just perfectly WONDERful to do/pursue, and the same request on another day might be a total flat-out "no" (or a "maybe later, but not during a funeral," or whatever it is).

Getting unschooling is a process. There will be more to get once you're comfortable with the new understandings and behaviors.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fill up your family

"You can't give what you don't have," some people say, and if you want your children to give generosity and kindness and patience to others, you should give them so much they're overflowing with it.

It works with respect, too.

Holly and Adam making Christmas cards
photo by Julie D, of Holly and Adam

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don't hackle or vex

zoo sign in Hindi and English telling people not to bother the animal

Good policy for the treatment of children, too! Keep all those things in the "bad idea" column, and choose their opposites whenever you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Books? Old books?

The edition of The New York Public Library Desk Reference we have might be a little outdated, but the rules of ice hockey haven’t changed, nor the way in which one addresses a letter to the Pope, nor the date of the discovery of Krypton. (Some of you thought it was just a Superman thing, didn’t you? Nope—1898, the year before aspirin.)

(Before the internet, people had reference books, and even then they seemed like trivia. Trivia can be the interesting door that leads to strange, new knowledge.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


"My Little Pony" figures and stories have changed over the years, but their contributions to happiness and learning continue to grow.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 16, 2015

An outpouring of love

How can one get from resentment and rigidity to an outpouring of love? Too mushy? It happens.
a red rose, in a soda bottle from India

Making the shift
photo by Sandra Dodd
I first credited Holly. She says she put the rose in the bottle,
but I'm the one who took the photo. It's been a while.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pay close attention

"Pay close attention to your children. Really see what they are doing, what they are interested in, what they are enjoying, what frustrates them, what they like and what they don't like."
—Karen James
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The important things

Children can only hear "no" so many times before they start to ignore it, so we helped them make good decisions when they were young, and saved "no" for really important things.
photo by Janine
and it's a link

Friday, November 13, 2015

What matters

I am willing to watch it with her because I know she loves it. I affirm something about her by taking her interest, her pleasure seriously. I let her know she matters by making it clear that she matters to me.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Easy flow

Jenny Cyphers, on overcoming fears:

If a parent has too many hangups, too many fears, too many issues, that they don't take out and examine, it will destroy what unschooling could be. People can get really wrapped up in fears and "what if's". Sometimes it consumes a person, a parent, a family. Happy, peaceful, unschooling can't flourish in those conditions. Fear creates blocks. Learning needs easy flow. Easy flow can happen naturally unless a person blocks it.
photo by Chrissy Florence, the day they saw a mom and baby whale

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy and comfortable

"What makes your child happy and comfortable?"
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, November 9, 2015

The kids will follow

If you're just starting to homeschool I have a few words of advice: Breathe. Smile. Your kids will be sharing your stress and fear, so move quickly to get over them. Meet experienced homeschoolers and model your practice on families you like and respect. Deschool yourselves, and the kids will follow easily.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sweet surprises

Find a comfortable way to relax into the flow of life, as often as you can, appreciating the sweet surprises along the way.
Round, coming around
photo by Lydia Koltai