Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wonderful things

white rabbit on a carousel, in a mall"I began to question so much of what I believed. I began to say yes, try to make the better choice, loosen up control. And not only did nothing I had feared come to pass, wonderful things began to happen."
—Anna, in Melbourne
Stories of how Families Changed
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 30, 2015

Funny and comfortable

Make it happy and funny and comfortable and exciting so that they want to be with you. Be sparkly.

"It" could be
  - home
  - life
  - your nest
  - your children's day
  - yourself

Sparkly Unschooling
photo by Janine

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Not just about parenting

bridge and a lamp post

"This journey is helping me become the woman I have always wanted to be. Unschooling is not just about parenting—it truly spills over into all areas of life."
—Megan Valnes

the original comment and another resource
photo by Sandra Dodd

Joy and Ease

If the goal is to know everything, and if each person's internal "universe" is unique, then the order in which the information is acquired isn't as important as the ease and joy with which it is absorbed.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, March 27, 2015

Choose Choices (...repeat)

"Children have to be taught to self-regulate." That "rule" is parroted by non-thinking parents with great regularity. It can be replaced with "I would like to help my child make thoughtful choices."

If you think of controlling yourself, and of your children controlling themselves, it's still about control. If people live by principles their choices come easily.
. . .
When you hear or say "They will self-regulate," think to yourself: "They will learn to make choices."

Quote is from page 56 (or 61) of The Big Book of Unschooling.
photo by Sandra Dodd

This post first appeared in May 2013.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where joy is...

"Where joy is, you will find learning. Where joy is, you will find flow."

—Clare Kirkpatrick

SandraDodd.com/joy (not the source, but a companion link)
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sleep, sleepity sleep

bright white moonflower, amid tall green vines, in the dark

At 3:30 a.m., I wake up (woke up, if things went well) to take Keith to the airport, so he can fly to Texas to help our firstborn child move home. Kirby has worked for Blizzard for nine years. He moved to Austin just as he turned twenty-one. He misses New Mexico.

This personal story is a substitute for an inspiring quote. I'm sleepy, and rather than stay awake until I've found a perfect word and image combo, I will share why I went to sleep early.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of moonflower vines outside my bedroom,
which I plan to grow there again this year


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hats and fantasies

Karen James wrote:

What I saw on tv influenced how I saw the world. It gave me so much to play with, so many more hats to try on, so many more diverse fantasies to dream up. I'm glad I didn't have adults telling me I should be doing something different or that what I was choosing to do wasn't good for me. I wouldn't be the person I am today without those experiences.
—Karen James

photo by Sandra Dodd, of Marty as Dr. Strangelove, and others at a party
where the theme was to dress as a favorite movie character

Monday, March 23, 2015


Words and thoughts and emotion are all entangled. Untangle.

SandraDodd.com/clarity will help, but the original writing is here

photo by Sandra Dodd, of Marty in a Viking-style cow mask he made.
It seemed the knotwork could represent entangled thoughts, but
really he's supposed to be a Viking dressed as a cow.
You know how that goes.


Sunday, March 22, 2015


TV antennas on top of a little tile-roofed bell tower, on an adobe buildingOld and new technology and art are everywhere if you look, and remember that not all learning needs to be important or recorded or reported.
Roll another one at Thinking Sticks: Playing with Ideas
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Simple wonders

Look at the world with child-like wonder.

Your child looks at the world with wonder.

Protect, nourish, and regain the ability to join in.

photo by Chrissy Florence

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reading something strange and new

Sometimes I've been criticized for saying that I won't say my child is reading until he or she can pick something up and read it. Not something I planted and that they've practiced, but something strange and new. If I can leave a note saying "I've gone to the store and will be back by 10:30," and if the child can read that, then I consider that the child is reading.

Others want to say "My child is reading" if he can tell Burger King's logo from McDonald's. I consider that more along the lines of distinguishing horses from cows. Yes, it's important, and yes, it can be applied to reading, but it is not, itself, reading.

The Nature of "Real Reading"
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Explore close by

There might be something near you that's interesting, pretty, different, unusual, that's worth a little visit. Don't wait to be tourists in distant lands to have a look around!stairs, chandelier, flag, New-England style
Strewing in Action
photo by Colleen Prieto

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Really being with each child

Learn to really be with a child.

They will be better able to be each others' friends and playmates if they each feel really strong in their relationship with the parent.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Different, but right in the middle of everything

My children grew up in a way most adults can't imagine.

Unschooling isn't easy to explain. It isn't easy to understand, but every day people try to help others who are trying to get it.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of volunteer cypress vines

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shakespeare hangs around

Shakespeare can be part of your life.

In 1999 I wrote about Shakespeare for unschoolers, but fifteen years later, it's all easier and more available, in short bits, free on the internet.

Some of what I wrote then:

"Studying" Shakespeare is quite different from enjoying and appreciating Shakespeare, if my kids are any indication.
Luckily for us all, we can see Shakespeare in our own homes, done by professionals, and we can pause or rewind or fast forward.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Seeing Everything

If you learn to see everything instead of just school things, unschooling will start working for you.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp (click image for close-up and fun details)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blanketing time and space

ornate water spout in medieval village

Any subjects leads to every other subject, and every other connection of any sort. Rather than sorting things out with your children, try to keep blending and mixing.

Religion leads to history, to geography, to clothing, to fashion, to business and imports to transportation to law. Law leads to ethics to medicine to religion. Any of those "leads to" points could lead to a dozen OTHER destinations, so even with a list that short, it starts to blanket time and space. Don't resist those weird tangents; jump on them and ride.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quietly better

The fewer things you say or do to make things worse, the better things will be.

antique 'explosives' sign

photo by Marty Dodd

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Giving, learning and growing

antique wheelbarrow, next to a fullsized chicken made of Lego, at LegoLand Windsor

Parvine Shahid wrote, on the topic of "Service":

Being with my children, giving them in each moment all I can, learning and growing with them, changed my understanding of "service."

I have chosen to give, help and serve my children. I feel being with them has contributed towards a new understanding of the word as well as a way of building a connection with them. I can also see how it can be extended to others.

I realize how much weight a word can carry, how changes in my own feelings have lightened that weight and thrown a new light on the word itself. Service now stirs up and brings great feelings of joy.
—Parvine Shahid

photo by Sandra Dodd (click for more info)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Before, behind; inside, outside

Ideas are based on other ideas, quite often. Songs might remind you of other songs. Art sometimes references other art.

In this photo there is an inside and an outside, things in front, things behind, Queen's Diamond Jubilee flags (so a time stamp) and a little tree.

Whether life is quietly calm or frantically busy, try to be gracefully and gratefully present.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 9, 2015

Messin' with the sun

"How do you know they're learning?" The people who ask that question are looking at the world through school-colored glasses. Those same parents knew when their children could use a spoon. They knew when the child could drink out of a cup. They knew when walking and talking and bike riding had been learned.

photo by Holly Dodd

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The wondrous now

metal sculpture on top of a museum wall, with its shadow
There are WONDROUS things people can do with current technology, and it's likely to get better and better, isn't it?

Don't separate your children from the future, from progress, and from understanding and using things just because the parents don't understand them or use them as well as they might. Don't hobble your child out of fear or superstition or trying to impress people you don't even know who want to scare and shame you. Be your child's partner. Lift him up and let him see.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of sculpture and shadows in Albuquerque,
to share around the world, without printing, paper or postage


Friday, March 6, 2015

One and only childhood

pink and lilac stuffed octopus on a shelf in a toy store
"Soften your view of the world. Don't expend too much energy being against things. Be soft and sweet and peaceful while your child is young. There will be plenty of time to gnash teeth and shake your fist at the injustices of the world when your child's one and only childhood is over."
—Sylvia Woodman

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Supporting change

Helping other people understand unschooling isn't easy. It can take months or years for people to get it. For natural learning to flourish with them, they need to change the way they act and even the way they see learning and education. In discussions and on message boards and at conferences, people's thinking can seem to have been criticized, and some object. They want the speakers or writers to soften up, ease up, "support them." There's a difference between supporting changing in order to better understand unschooling, and the vanilla "support" that women can become accustomed to. Nice noise and soothing words of praise are what many people think of as "support."

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Learn and be an example

Colleen Prieto wrote:

Realize your unschooling life and someone else’s unschooling life won’t look exactly just the same, and that’s because your kids and their kids, your partner and their partner, your house and their house, your interests and their interests… they’re not the same either. But still read, talk, and think about what you are doing, and listen to what others are doing. Learn from the example of people who have been there/done that, and be an example for those who will come after you on the unschooling path.
—Colleen Prieto

From Colleen's writings at the bottom here: SandraDodd.com/video/doright
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It depends

A question like "should I buy this, yes or no?" isn't the kind of questions others can answer very well. And if we did, we'd need to say WHY we thought so, which would involve explaining a principle. And with all of the best answers, it needs to start, "It depends."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 2, 2015

Anything but that...

Deb Lewis, on responding to a child who has expressed a feeling of boredom:

Put her on your lap and snuggle and visit awhile. Talk about something interesting you read in the newspaper,
tell her you're going to make her favorite thing for dinner, talk about anything at all except why she shouldn't be bored. Pull out a game she really likes and sit and play with her. Go for a walk around the neighborhood together. Invite her to make cupcakes.

She's not so much interested in you telling her what to do or why she shouldn't be bored. She wants you to help her feel better. Spend time with her talking and doing and that will help.
—Deb Lewis

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Seeing patterns

Humans look for patterns. There are patterns in sound, story, colors, words, designs and textures. Needlework, architecture and ironwork. Waves, clouds, and snow. Puzzles, mazes and games. Cosmic, microscopic and temporary patterns are all around us.

photo by Sandra Dodd