Monday, August 31, 2015

Improved selves

Part of becoming a good unschooling parent does involve self-reflection, a review of one's own childhood (gradually, in the background of one's new thoughts and plans) and some recovery from that, which is wonderfully aided by treating our children as we wish we might have been treated.

Parents, in order to have their children trust them, should become trustworthy.
photo by Janine

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A limited time

The words of Kelly Lovejoy:

If you knew you only had a year more with that child, what would you expose him to? Where would you go? What would you eat? What would you watch? What would you do?
If you had only ONE year—and then it was all over, what would you do? Four seasons. Twelve months. 365 days.

Do that THIS year. And the next.

That's how unschooling works. By living life as if it were an adventure. As if you only had a limited amount of time with that child. Because that's the way it IS.
—Kelly Lovejoy
photo by Julie D

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Commitment to optimism

Pam Sorooshian, in 2012 (pared down from the original):

Unschooling is a profoundly optimistic decision, and it involves a huge commitment to living a very optimistic life.

I think it is possible that THE most significant thing unschooling does is nurture optimism.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo and quote reduction by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brilliant and effective

Karen James wrote:

I rarely (if ever) say to others, or even to myself, that I'm a Radical Unschooler. I do, however, tell any person interested that we find unschooling to be the best approach to learning in our home. For me, it's not about being something. It's about living in a way that best meets all of our needs. Radical unschooling meets all of our needs brilliantly and effectively. It's deep. It takes dedication and close attention to understand and put into practice well. The proof of how well it is working can be seen and felt in the nature of our days together.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Curves and angles

carved wooden goats, once on a carouselLife, interests and knowledge change over time. What we and our children do and know and become is flowing along, and we can't save or even see it all.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Invest your attention

Sometimes I think of things I wish I had done or said, or I wish I had been more attentive or patient and sometimes I see in that very moment that I'm sitting there thinking about myself instead of getting up and going and being with my husband or kids. It's weird, and people who come to it new think "martyrdom!?" or self sacrifice, but it's not that. It's investment.
(Thanks to Marta Venturini for quoting this, and reminding me of it.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thinking and choosing

If you think of two things and choose the better one, then you've made a choice.
If you act without thinking first, you have acted thoughtlessly.
photo by Sandra Dodd
and it's upside-down, as they were hanging
in a gift shop in Kuranda

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Attentive parenting

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

What we're advocating is paying very very close attention to our children—the opposite of what people usually think of as "permissive" parenting. This could be called "Attentive Parenting"—observe, learn all you can about your children, listen carefully to them, anticipate their wants and needs, strive to be their partner—their adult partner who knows a lot and has a lot of resources and is THERE for them. Help them be the best they can be.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp Saran

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Universal connections

Remember that if your “unit study” is the universe, everything will tie in to everything else, so you don’t need to categorize or be methodical to increase your understanding of the world. Each bit is added wherever it sticks, and the more you’ve seen and wondered and discussed, the more places you have inside for new ideas to stick. A joyful attitude is your best tool.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fantasy gifts

From an article about coming-out parties for unschoolers:

What if you could give magical gifts? How about the ability to change bodies long enough to see the world as your children see it? Perhaps just a few doses of magic to make time stand still, just a little while. More time and space? Unlimited patience! Friendly neighbors. A perepetually well-running van in the mom's favorite color. Intuitive knowledge of child development would be a good gift for homeschoolers and all their friends, neighbors and relatives. If you figure out how to produce such gifts, please remember me after your friends have all they need.

Unschoolers' Coming-Out Parties: Wishlists for Unschoolers
photo by Bea Mantovani

The link above has lots of actual practical non-fantasy ideas, but it was written in 1999. If you read it, keep in mind an iPad, a Nexus tablet, or a Kindle. At the end of the 20th century, that would have been as far-fetched a fantasy as the list above, but many families own at least one—and they have music, logic puzzles, games, humor, books, movies and more!

So I will add one more link for today: Abundance

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Joy helps learning

Joy helps learning.
Negativity poisons joy.
Pessimism and cynicism can prevent unschooling.
photo by Sandra Dodd
_Level Up_

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

History at your house

 photo DSC02167.jpgYou could have a checklist scavenger hunt in your house. Do you have something from each decade of the past hundred years? I nominate this glass, from my stuff, for the 1960's, though it might be '50s.

You could look for things from different continents, at the same time. And things made of different materials—glass, stoneware, tile, wood, particular metals, bamboo or rattan, cardboard (other than a plain cardboard box), rubber (real rubber), vinyl, different types of cloth.

You could photograph them and make a blog post or a little scrapbook.

History in your hand
Normal or exotic?
The good stuff
like pulling a bouquet of flowers out of a wand
photo by Sandra Dodd
and here's the other side of it

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


What do babies want? They want to learn. They learn by touching and tasting and watching and listening. They learn to be gentle by people being gentle with them...
photo by Sara Vaz

Monday, August 17, 2015

Quietly at home

There are artists and writers who prefer a great deal of time alone. Even among those with kinesthetic intelligence, there are some who prefer hiking,
climbing or skiing. There are those who practice sleight-of-hand and juggling for many hours alone. There are musicians who play a thousand hours in private for every hour they might share with others.

When such children are in school, they find ways to make themselves invisible if they can. The advantages of being home are abundant for those with such inclinations.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Do more

If you think you haven't done enough for your children lately, do more.boy with Roman helmet on, and Minecraft t-shirt, at museum
Maintain and replenish
photo by Janine

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Softer emotions

Ren wrote:

Anytime I feel resentment building up I try to look at the activity or situation in the light of death. If the one I loved were gone, cleaning up after them or reminding them of something for the thousandth time might seem endearing, rather than irritating.
—Ren Allen
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 14, 2015

Unique knowledge

Carefully considered thought is pretty rare, but unschooling parents who watch their children learning for years have a lot of time to see some particular things that no one else—not even the other unschoolers—can see. In each family where these principles take hold, children do and say wonderful things that help the parents *know* (not just kind of think) that learning can happen without teaching or showing. They see that connections are being made that school would not, could not, have set up, when the parents back away from directing and instead provide experiences, materials and input.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Worthwhile" means...

Once someone wrote in an unschooling discussion:
"I just have one concern. I want my children to finish what they start."
I responded:
If you start a book and decide you don't like it, will you finish it?

If you start eating a dozen donuts, and after you're not in the mood for donuts anymore, will you finish the dozen?

If you start an evening out with a guy and he irritates or frightens you, will you stay for five more hours to finish what you started?

If you put a DVD in and it turns out to be Kevin Costner and you don't like Kevin Costner, will you finish it anyway?

The only things that should be finished are those things that seem worthwhile to do.
Finish What you Start
photo by Chrissy Florence

The American Heritage Dictionary says it's an adjective meaning "Sufficiently valuable or important to be worth one's time, effort, or interest."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Real peace

Most moms who come around to tell more experienced moms about how terrible "violence"
is haven't even tried to define that term in their own minds. They will say a cartoon is "violent," or a TV show is "violent." Their children are probably sitting safely on a warm couch in a house with a locked door.

Think peaceful thoughts about imaginary violence.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Find joy

If you practice noticing and experiencing joy, if you take a second out of each hour to find joy, your life improves with each remembrance of your new primary goal.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 10, 2015

Water play

Remember these moments, when simple things make the normal world magical.

Provide for the possibility of these moments.
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quick Install

Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life., which also has a guide to
Gradual Installation (necessary in most school-trained cases)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Connect, inspire, trust and help

"I learn every day how to have a better partnership with my children and spouse, how to connect, inspire, trust and help. And now that I have learned how to read without my emotions interpreting the emails for me, the message is consistently the same—be loving, gentle and sweet with your children, *be* with your children, live joyfully."
—Rippy Dusseldorp
referring to Always Learning
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 7, 2015

Scary learning

Michelle Thedaker wrote:

I'm becoming more and more easily able to . . . ask myself, "What is my issue with this? How can I get past it?" and really open myself to a variety of answers. Scary? Yep. Worth it? Beyond yes!
—Michelle Thedaker

Read what I left out, and more:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Better than what?

When I write and speak about people trying to be better, some balk or resist, or say "You want us to try to be better than others?"

It's personal, not competitive.

This is the better I'm talking about:

Be better than you would have been if you had not thought "I would like to be better."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What if, what if, what if

 photo DSC02918.jpgWhen you don't know what to do, try not to do anything.

Wait a bit.    Think.

Breathe.       Smile.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Be careful

Be careful.

Be sweet.

That's from notes for a talk I gave once. If you want to hear me, go here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 3, 2015

No shoving, please

Set it out, don't try to shove it in.

That line is from small talk I gave once, to dads only. I was talking about logic—to draw it in, not to hit people with it. But "Set it out, don't try to shove it in" can apply to many things—food, interesting things, ideas, and to unschooling itself.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Remember "partnership"

Being patient and compassionate with a child who is sad or hungry or tired or maybe teething or frustrated with his friends is good. Feeling good makes you calmer and more confident. It will give you stores of calm and clarity so that you can remember that your spouse might be sad or hungry or tired, maybe aging, aching, or frustrated with his co-workers and friends.

If you have come to feel adversarial in any way toward your partner, remember "partnership." Help him or her follow interests or hobbies or to take care of collections, or to see a favorite TV show. Support his interests. Being nicer makes you a nicer person.
photo by Joyce Fetteroll

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Let your child be your cause

 photo DSC09455.jpg
Putting your child first while you unschool is important. When your kids grow up, you could dedicate the rest of your life to only wearing used clothes and not using electricity or charge cards or an automobile, but putting token environmental gestures first in your life causes your child to become a token environmental gesture. The environment is changed imperceptibly. His life, hugely.
photo by Sandra Dodd