Sunday, May 31, 2015


inside of beamed roof of older home in NetherlandsCollections can take space to store. Games, post cards, dolls, musical instruments, puppets, scarves...

Online, ideas and images can be collected and shared more easily. Following an interest can last a few minutes, a week, or many years.
photo by Sandra Dodd

(click to enlarge)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Changing sensibilities

Common sense among unschoolers is (and should be, needs to be) more particular and rarified than everyday "common sense."

Does it seem like common sense, after a few years of unschooling, that it's good to let people sleep if they don't need to be anywhere? And that the nicer you are to them, the nicer they're likely to be to you and to others? It seems like common sense to me that learning is learning regardless of the source, and that what's engaging and fun has value. (though these words aren't there)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 29, 2015

"The ice-cream principle"

ice cream stainless steel trays in a shop in Leiden
Colleen Prieto wrote:

I asked my 11 year old "What's the ice cream principle?" and he responded without hesitation "If you want the ice cream, get the ice cream - because you only live once."

That's a big part of the way unschooling looks in our family - and he knows that. And it's not just about ice cream, even though that's how we happen to refer to the idea.

Our son knows that if he wants something, his Dad and I will do our best to make it happen...and there's more, at the link below, by Colleen Prieto
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A better place

If by "change the world" a person means "make the world better," then step #1 must be to decide right then not to make the world worse.

rose petals in a jar, and some scattered on the table, near a teacup
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A lot of DOING

I think unschoolers should let their kids do what they want all day in an attentive and enriched environment.

The parents should be facilitators of natural learning, providing new and interesting things for their kids to experience, being supportive of their children's interests, providing them materials and experiences with music, food, art, materials...

It's a lot of DOING, and being, and learning, for years and years. (cheery neglect)
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Robbie Prieto's Viking ship

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Avoiding roadblocks

two close trees on a lawn, growing in a'v'with firewood stacked between them
[While I was in La Leche League] I learned that children have within them what they need to know, and that the parent and child are a team, not adversaries. It reinforced the idea that if you are loving and gentle and patient that children want to do what you ask them to do, and that they will come to weaning, potty training, separation from mom, and all those milestones without stress and without fear if you don't scare them or stress them! Seems kind of obvious, but our culture has 1,000 roadblocks.
photo by Sandra Dodd
of a pretty wooodpile in Laurie Wolfrum's yard


Monday, May 25, 2015

Experiencing, sensing

I am so certain that learning comes from experiences and touching, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting that in light of natural learning, books seem flat and dry.child playing on rocks in a tidepool, with her reflection on the water
quote from page 148 of The Big Book of Unschooling (page 161 of newer edition)
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Art about art

[In 2009...] When Holly and I got back from having seen Lady in the Water, I told Kirby and Marty "It's a fairy tale about fairy tales. It's a movie about movies."

I guess that idea was still in my head when I wrote "This is art about art. These are cartoons about cartoons" (about a Strongbad cartoon called "Japanese Cartoon").
Art by Naolito

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Brave, happy Barbie

"Parents are afraid of a plastic doll that is not real, and kids know it—but what really damages a child's self esteem and body image is a parent comparing, critiquing, complaining and dissing their own body (or someone else's body)."
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Robyn and Jayne Coburn

Friday, May 22, 2015

Learning to see differently

If beginners don't go through a phase in which they REALLY focus on seeing learning outside of academic formalities, they will not be able to see around academics.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Look in a new way

"There's more to unschooling than just not doing school. To make it flourish we need to look at ourselves, our relationship, the way we look at the world in a new way to clear out the thinking that's holding us back."
—Joyce Fetteroll

The danger of "Lazy" and other thoughts
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whole and attentive

Being a good unschooling parent involves being a good person, a good parent. Unschooling can't work unless the parent is there, whole and attentive and not screwing it up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 18, 2015

Calm down

"If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself to calm down and worry less, not pander to anyone else's ideals and I'd trust my kid alot more."
—Lea Tapp
three red tugboats, across a small river from a few small open white boats
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Talking and thinking and being

More people talk about peace than think about it. Many people are full of peaceful platitudes, and fury that others aren't "peaceful" to their specifications or fantasies.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 15, 2015


Rejoice when your child surpasses you in skill, knowledge or wisdom.

Nearly a quote, from
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Open, windows; open, doors

Be open to seeing what you see, out the window.

Be open to finding what you find, out the door.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Life flows

Liquids flow, life flows, ideas flow, learning flows. Sometimes things don't flow smoothly, or don't flow freely, or flow where we don't want them to flow, or freeze up altogether. Parents can accept, acknowledge and appreciate flow, or they can block, knock and wreck it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Something different

What's "same old" to you will be different or new to visitors and children. Something you see all the time might be worth a closer look.
photo by Sandra Dodd, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Factors and etiquette

Thoughtful decision making involves considering as many factors as you can. No rule can be applied in every place and at all times. There will be special cases, and times to put courtesy and etiquette before any other considerations.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Just now"

from a talk on May 9, about choices,
finding balance, and living in the present moment:
"Just right" and "just now" are things you should pay attention to.
bubbles blown by wind from a net between two long poles, in India
photo by Holly Dodd, of bubbles in India

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Other unschooling families

two boys, smilingWhether in person or at a distance, online, it can be helpful to know other unschooling families. Seeing how others handle everyday or unusual situations, how they amuse themselves and comfort one another, can make it easier to understand and relax.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, May 8, 2015

Variable speeds

Time is fast, time is slow. A moment can seem like an hour, or a day can pass in a blink. Joy can make time flow smoothly. Make the best of most of your moments.wall clock with chain to look like giant pocket watch
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 7, 2015

More positive, more nurturing

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

Making a "feeling" decision can not only bring down the family and bring down the child's opportunities, but it doesn't help the parent to lay out their own wounds to dry.

Logic is good.

So if a parent knows that she wants to be kinder, gentler, more positive, more nurturing, there are things that she can do—little changes she can make and decisions she can make that lead her toward that. And "follow your heart" is not a good one.

Unschooling Support: Extras with Sandra Dodd (recording and transcript)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ways to support interests

UFO and sky fantasy art up high on the wall and ceiling at a thrift store

Where some parents might brush off the very idea of pursuing a certain interest, unschooling parents will really try to find ways to support it, even if we can't jump in full-on right away.
—Pam Sorooshian has examples
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Following a trail

Learning, collections, connections and humor can all meet when an interest is followed. This one I picked up from Marty's childhood interest in Leonardo Da Vinci.I bought a couple of nice t-shirts for Marty, a poster of inventions, a book, and we came to notice lots of riffs and parodies.

That "oooh, LOOK!" behavior was a large part of interacting and learning, when my kids were young. We still share images, music, movies and trivia now that they're grown.
image lifted, as one of several variants at the link above

Monday, May 4, 2015

Visions and knowledge

I didn't know how much children could learn without reading, until I immersed myself in unschooling and my children's lives.

As their reading ability unfolded and grew, I learned things I never knew as a teacher, and that I wouldn't have learned as an unschooling mom had they happened to have read “early.” Reading isn't a prerequisite for learning. Maps can be read without knowing many words. Movies, music, museums and TV can fill a person with visions, knowledge, experiences and connections regardless of whether the person reads. Animals respond to people the same way whether the person can read or not. People can draw and paint whether they can read or not. Non-readers can recite poetry, act in plays, learn lyrics, rhyme, play with words, and talk about any topic in the world at length.
photo by Holly Dodd, from inside an auto-rickshaw

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Being and providing

Being the sort of parent you wish you had had, and providing an environment you would like to have had as a child, is probably the easiest and most direct way to move toward being a good unschooler.

photo by Janine
words by Sandra, in a fleeting context


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Trust and faith

Trust and faith are the most powerful tools parents of teens have. Too many parents squander those trying to control toddlers and young children.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 1, 2015

That "French poodle" voice

Even the nicest of words can be ruined if they're spoken in a condescending, treacly way. It's not bad for infants, and it's great for French poodles. It's that talking-to-a-French-poodle voice, and the thoughts that go with it, that should be avoided when parents are talking to their children.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Note about treacle: In the UK they make a small pie called "treacle tart." It's like pecan pie without any pecans. Sounds like "tree," not "tray." Needs pecans. Just sayin'...

Note about the photo: Nothing to do with the quote; one of our catalpa trees blooming, a different year. Click it for more info.