Thursday, April 30, 2015

If everything counts...

So what IS trivia, then? For school kids, trivia is (by definition) a waste of time. It’s something that will not be on the test. It’s “extra” stuff. For unschoolers, though, in the wide new world in which EVERYTHING counts, there can be no trivia in that sense.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Best uses

Everything is turned to its best use and highest good insofar as we’re able. We appreciate people who can share knowledge, ideas and stories with us. We seek out interesting “scenic routes” in real and figurative ways. Our days are full and our learning is unmeasured and immeasurable.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Critical thinking

"Just because there's more than one truth
doesn't mean there's no such thing as bullshit."
—Sandra Dodd

You can quote it but don't steal it.
In the dozen years since I first wrote it,
nothing has occurred to change my mind.

Balance and
How Parents can Learn
photo of Holly and Sandra and some fictional characters, by Kelli Traaseth

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gather and glean

I've always felt strongly that unschooling should be about the ideas and not about the individuals. No one book, website, speaker or conference should try to be (nor be expected to be) everything for anyone, but unschooling parents should gather and glean what they can from all the real world around them. We don't need to all agree, or all be on the same list or at the same conference for families to learn and grow with unschooling.
photo by Karen James

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Make decisions

'Self discipline' is like 'self regulation.' It's still about discipline and rules. How and why should one discipline and regulate oneself, when decision making in the light of compassion and goodness will work much better?
photo by Julie D

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Make it ALL learning!

If a person's life is compartmentalized into learning and not learning, then they have a part of them that is "not-learning."

"Not learning"
photo by Sandra Dodd
(click to enlarge)

Friday, April 24, 2015

For years...

They trusted me because I had spent years being trustworthy.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Relax the constraints

"When you only allow a limited amount of TV, then the marginal utility of a little more tv is high and every other option looks like a poor one, comparatively. Watching more TV becomes the focus of the person's thinking, since the marginal utility is so high. Relax the constraints and, after a period of adjustment and experimentation to determine accurate marginal utilities, the focus on TV will disappear and it will become just another option."

This applies to anything—not just TV/video.

photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today, now

If you want to change the way you're being or thinking, just do it. Don't wait for another year, another month, another day.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Braiding plastic ponies

"Soon I was up to starting with twenty-seven pieces (nested down to nine braids, then to three and then one) and then on to eighty-one. All the while I was learning about math: I saw that division is the process of taking a large number of things and grouping them into a smaller number of groups. In order to end up with one even braid at the end, I had to be able to divide the initial number evenly by three, then by three, and then by three again, until I ended up with just one braid."
—Christine Alvarado
and there's more at the link below
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly demonstrating this, years ago
(click to enlarge)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Choosing to have choices

A person can choose to have choices. A person can choose not to choose; still a choice, but they think of it as "no choice" or "have to."
Make the better choice
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Look directly at your child without filters or labels.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Friday, April 17, 2015

People they trust

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

The best way for introverts to learn to socialize is with the people they're comfortable with: their family. And then whatever friends they feel comfortable with.

Then when they're older and their desire to get something from a group is greater than their discomfort of being in a group, they'll have the skills they picked up from people they trust.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, April 16, 2015


What about socialization?
Schools "teach" children to get along in school. Children who live in the real world learn to get along with real people of all ages, in all kinds of situations.

When I was in elementary school, the lowest marks I got were C's (average) in conduct, or deportment. I talked too much. Way more than once I was shushed in class with the admonition, "You're not here to socialize."
photo by Polly G, with Julie D's camera

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The language they hear and see

With unschooling, children will learn from the language you use and they use, from the words they see around them, from using games and computers, from signing greeting cards or playing with words. There's no need for any school-style structure at all. For those who have wondered about phonics and reading and spelling, please don't press that on your children.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a ghost sign in Texas

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A leap in thinking

"Video games are an evolutionary leap in thinking and imagination. The people who make them, the people who play them, the people who master them are using their imaginations in the way of artists and musicians and the best scientists."
—Deb Lewis
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, April 13, 2015

Who inspired you?

At a couple of conferences, I've asked participants to share. The question was:
Who inspired you? Who helped you move toward better parenting and unschooling?

They might not even be unschoolers. They might have said one thing, one time.

Please think about this. If someone said or did something that changed the course of your life in this direction, and if you want to acknowledge that (with or without their name), please leave a comment or write to me and I'll add a new section of acknowledgements on the page linked below.
photo by Dylan Lewis

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Who will your children follow?

If parents set a good example, it's easier for kids to learn. It's good for the relationship.

If parents set a bad example, children can still learn better habits, but they might learn by deciding NOT to be like the parent, but rather to be like another adult they respect more. It might be a karate teacher, or a friend's parent. That is NOT good for the relationship, and can affect the parent/child relations for decades.

The above was written in a longer discussion, where I didn't mention that the children might not learn better habits, but might settle for behaving as badly as the parents.

Be the way you hope your children will be.

Similar, but without the quote above:
Thoughts on Respect, by Robyn Coburn
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Caution and growth

I cannot make my children's lives good. I can't ensure their success. I cannot make a tree grow. I can water it and put a barrier near so Keith doesn't hit it with a lawnmower, and ask my kids not to climb in it while it's young.

I could destroy that tree, all kinds of ways. I could do it damage. I could neglect it. But I can't predict where the next branch will grow, or whether it will double in size this year or just do 1/3 again of its height. Not all years' growth are the same.

I could mess my kids up and make them unhappy and keep them from having access to things, but I cannot make them learn. I can't make them mature. I can give them opportunities and room to grow, and food and water and a comfortable bed.

I can't guarantee anything for anyone else, nor for my own family. I know what does damage, and I know what might help.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, April 10, 2015

Am I doing enough?

Karen James wrote:

I asked the same question a few years back. I got an excellent, but unexpected reply. I was told if I thought I wasn't doing enough, then to do more. Now, if our unschooling days start to feel a bit stale to me, I try to make them lively again by using what I know about my son to introduce something(s) fresh to our experience. Doing this has never lead me astray. It might take me in a completely different direction from what I had in mind, but, to me, that's a big part of the fun of this life.
—Karen James
photo of Holly Dodd, by someone with her camera, in 2008

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Be nice

traffic lights and street sign reading 'Jackass Hill'

Please don't use unschooling as a reason to be rude. And if you're rude, please don't tell people it's because you're unschoolers.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A better moment

"What I know for sure is that a sad or angry moment turned into a happy and playful one will always be better."
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Layers of an onion

My response to "Sometimes I think I've started to understand something but instead it's like an onion and there's another layer I didn't know I needed to understand."

That's how everything good is. Every hobby, skill, pastime, has a surface and has a depth. Some things can be just surface, but parenting and unschooling last for years. And if a family can't resolve to be and do and provide better for the child than school would, then school is better.

If a family resolves to provide a better life experience then school did, then their decisions and actions should be based on that.
"Getting It" has some layers-of-onion discussion, too.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nurturing bonds

Lots of people, when they first hear of homeschooling or unschooling say (almost before they take a breath) "I couldn't be with my child all the time." School (and even daycare) can break the bond between parent and child.There are, and have been in the past, various culturally approved bonds-breaking practices, so one thing we're doing with unschooling is purposefully nurturing bonds, and these relationships.

Lots of parents discover that *if* they can relax into that relationship building, that they can't believe they weren't with their children 24/7 before, and they make up for lost time, and it gets easier and easier.
dad and two daughters on a giant wheel
photo by Claire Horsley

Sunday, April 5, 2015


giant teddy bear with pink cowboy hat on a park bench

Deb Lewis, on a page I had never finished until yesterday:

It's more important for you to improve your parenting right now than it is for you to be soothed over your mistakes.

It feels *awful* to make mistakes. That awful feeling is useful though, because it's part of what helps us avoid doing that thing again. If we think of that feeling as a useful tool instead of a punishment, we won't feel so much need for comfort.
—Deb Lewis

More, about that, by Deb Lewis, here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, April 4, 2015

New, improved heart

Commentary on it being bad advice for a stranger to say "follow your heart":

Coming up with a plan to logically step, step, step by step away from the dark confusion of people's childhood memories, hidden ideas, frustrations, fears... Stepping away from that into the light is a better thing to do. Eventually they may get so good at this being-more-positive that it seems like they're following their heart—but it needs to be their new, improved, mindful heart.

Unschooling Support: Extras with Sandra Dodd
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good judgment?

Without "judgment," how on earth can someone "use good judgment"?
large statue of King Alfred, with an axe
photo by Sandra Dodd, of King Alfred, in Wantage

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Courtesy and common sense

Don't bring your hot dog to the vegan friend's house. Don't bring stinky food to places where others can't get away. Don't bring great-smelling food to a hospital room where someone is on a restricted diet, or on an IV with no food allowed.
. . . .
"It depends" is a good first answer when someone asks whether something is or is not okay. There is no "rule" that says unschoolers can eat anything they want any time. But there should not be arbitrary restrictions, just really logical, sensible ones involving courtesy and common sense.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Safe and near

If things seem too loud and sharp, consider a sheet over a table, with pillows. Softer. Quieter. Soothing.

Let young children play with safe kitchen utensils or food while you cook. Let them be near you, if you can.
Adam, young, drinking tea
photo by Julie D