Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sweet and grounding

"There's little so sweet and grounding to me as being loved for who I am and appreciated for all I choose to spend my time doing. If we want our children to really know what that feels like too, we should stop standing on the sidelines, and start joining in. It's a simple gift we can all give to our children that will have the potential to last a lifetime."
—Karen James

A simple gift
photo by Karen James, too

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Right now; respond to that

I tell them to look directly at their child without overlays or filters or labels—to see who he is, right now, and respond to that.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tricked by "knowledge"

Meredith Novak wrote:

A great deal of parenting "wisdom" is made up of things "everyone knows" because everyone repeats them back and forth, over and over. Like "you have to go to school to learn" and "children need rules". Some of the things "everyone knows" are completely wrong, but because "everyone knows" them, it's very, very difficult for people to change their attitudes even in the presence of evidence to the contrary.

It was really shocking for me to discover just how much of what I "knew" was a result of that repetition. I accounted myself an intelligent, thoughtful person, with strong "alternative" viewpoints, but most of what I thought I knew about parenting was based in a kind of cultural conditioning. The ideas in my head weren't my own. That's humbling.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Seeking joy

In discussing the idea of coercion, Dawn Todd wrote:

"I can't really say from looking at my kids whether they feel coerced or not in a given moment. But I can tell joy when I see it. So seeking joy is way more helpful to me as an idea."
—Dawn Todd

Not exactly a match, but could be useful:
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, September 26, 2015


From 2011, in a discussion of "special needs":

I have a son who would certainly be labeled with disabilities if he were in school. I am familiar with the early intervention path, and how it can make every suggestion seem mandatory.

One of the reasons I quit the path of cookie-cutter help was because I got to watch my (unschooler) friend's son, a boy much like my own, blossom in her care.
bee in a white hollyhock bloom
With every difficulty or difference he presented, whether it was speech differences, sensory difficulties, or behavior issues, she arranged life to fit his needs. She also approached all this with a solid faith in him that he was the way he was supposed to be, and that he was on his own schedule. She sought appropriate help when needed, but it was out of a "what are his true needs" space.

I have since approached my son's needs in a similar manner, and he is blossoming.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Friday, September 25, 2015

Special and everyday skills

Notice and appreciate what your child can do well.

Part of a longer list in a discussion of skills:

ability to apply logic and reasoning
ability to pick up language skills easily
identify plants
sense weather
finding one's way without a map
reading maps
making maps and giving directions
fancy braids on three My Little Poniesconnecting people
hosts a good party
good at collaborating
good at directing
good with kids
good with babies
ability to listen
remembers details
good with numbers, proportions and formulas

That list was by "Tandosmama," and there are others on this page:
photo by Holly Dodd (click to enlarge)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy, good and open

"Many, many times in my daily life with my son, I am reminded that there is value in so very many things—be those things Scooby Doo or Pokemon or Star Wars or Harry Potter or 1,000 other "easy to criticize" forms of media or entertainment. Life is so much more fun when you look to the happy parts, look for the good, and keep an open mind."
—Colleen Prieto
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Confidence and a smile

No matter who is asking, I answer with confidence and matter of factness. I'm friendly and disarming. I smile. If there is a lull in the conversation, I smoothly transition into asking something about their child. Maybe something like - 'How is Susie doing? I saw that she has a brand new pink bicycle with a Barbie bell. She must love that'.

The way I've dealt with people's questions has improved with time and practice.
—Rippy Dusseldorp

Responding to questions about unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Creating rebellion

In response to someone who described her child as "a rebellion factory":

The conditions required to create rebellion don't exist at my house. I don't think unschooling provides a good environment for a rebellion factory to emerge.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, September 21, 2015

Waiting for proof?

Schuyler Waynforth wrote, some years ago:

If I'd decided to wait until a respected research body verified what people on lists like this are sharing from their own lives, Simon and Linnaea would be in school and our lives wouldn't be filled with the learning that happens just being us.
And it will never be verified, because it is something that takes a single-mindedness of purpose that I would never have thought I was capable of. Which means that it isn't something that everyone can do. Not because they aren't necessarily capable of it, although that may be the case for some, but because they don't have as their goal "to help a child be who she is and blossom into who she will become."
self-portrait of two Hollies by Holly Dodd
and it's a link


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lighten up

A butterfly in the yard is more wonderful than a dusty butterfly pinned in a box, but you can control the one in the box better, as long as you don't want it to fly. At least it will be there when you want to look at it. The one in the yard is on his own schedule.
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Here and now

Don't have so much of past and future in your head that you can't live now.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 18, 2015

Climbing mountains and baking pies

Cumbres and Toltec train, 2015
In response to someone saying her child would rather take the easy route than try something tough, Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

It's human nature to avoid what we feel is a waste of time, energy and resources.
It's also human nature to pour energy into what we find fascinating.

If someone is made to climb a mountain, they'll find the easiest path, and perhaps even cheat.

If someone desires to climb a mountain, they may even make it more difficult—challenging—for themselves if the route doesn't light their fire.

If it were human nature to go the easy route, I wouldn't be sitting here writing out a response! No one would write a novel. No one would climb Mt. Everest. No one would bake a cherry pie from scratch. No one would have kids.
—Joyce Fetteroll
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly Dodd riding a steam train restored and largely operated by volunteers. The easy route would have been for them to stay home and read books and watch movies about trains.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Better than school

If you're going to unschool, it needs to be better than school. If that involves getting mental, emotional or physical therapy for the parents, then do it! The house doesn't work if the roof is leaking and there's no heat. Parents don't work if they're in an emotional fog and can't pay sweet attention to their kids.

swan in the water, baby swan on the sidewalk near a pigeon

Healing Presence
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm positive!

"Being able to find the wonder in small things contributes to being more positive."
—Marta Venturini
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 14, 2015

All over the place

Children learn when they're not with parents, too! They're learning all the time, all over the place. photo 22Dec09002.jpg
photo by James Daniel
of Holly Dodd in 2009 at Rex Features office in London,
delivering 1967 David Bowie artifacts to be photographed

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Time and space

Children need recovery time, and space, and peace, if they've been schooled, before their curiosity and joy can return.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Make a loved one smile

Alex Polikowsky wrote:

He will not learn to be spoiled if he gets everything he wants—no one gets every little thing they want. But he will learn that his parents will try to give him everything he wants—if possible. He will learn about family budget and money and economics and most of all he will learn the joy of giving something that makes a loved one smile.
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a carousel in The Netherlands
Click it to see details.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Just discussing life, hanging out...

Nobody kept their kids home for 18 or 20 years just discussing life with them, hanging out, playing games.

We probably wouldn't be either, if it weren't that we're biding time until the clock runs out on compulsory education.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More than "not school"

There are aspects of learning and living that people forget about when they claim that a school can provide what unschooling provides.
photo and "Barbie art" by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stream of Shakespearean Consciousness

Instead of a quote, I'm going to list words and terms from a page called "One Thing Leads to Another, and some things are Shakespeare":

Buffy, Angel, Jeopardy, pizza, a priest, Asterix, Animaniacs, "Go Fish", hemlock, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes, Vishal Bhardwaj, The Reduced Shakespeare Company, The Simpsons and Star Trek.

There are happy Shakespeare stories from several families here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Loud, happy homes

A loud, happy home is more peaceful than a quiet home where people are afraid to "disturb the peace."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tied up in words

Thinking you "have to" do something keeps you from making a choice.
photo by Janine

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sets and patterns

In music, art, weather, foods, clothes, trees, games... there are patterns repeating and changing over time and space.

Whether it's the observation of a moment, or a collection made over many years, notice and enjoy as life carries you through.

The writing above isn't a quote, but here's a good follow-on:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Knuckles, the past and the future

Thirty days hath September,
All the rest I can't remember.
The calendar hangs on the wall;
Why bother me with this at all?

That's a rhyme that goes around, in protest of a longer and more complicated thing kids used to be pressed to memorize. Some of those kids are still alive, but the antique "hath" remains.

Times change, though. People don't flip through calendars on the wall so much as they ask Siri or Google, or look at the calendar on the iPad. Phones know what date it is, and what time zone you're in.

Go to this page to see how to calculate month lengths with your knuckles:
image by Andrew and Glenda Sikes

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happily, with a purpose

Once when a new video game was to come out in three weeks or so, I overheard Marty and Kirby discussing at length and without any frustration all the different combinations of ownership and funding might be possible for them to put their allowance together and buy it. If Kirby contributed as much as Marty's allowance, they could be co-owners, but wouldn't have enough to get it the day it was released. Could Marty owe Kirby, and buy in up to 50% later? Should Marty just own a lesser percentage? I think they were 9 and 12 or so. It was complicated math, with all those percentages of increments of age times .75, but they were doing it, and just in their heads, and happily, with a purpose.

They didn't think to ask us for help. They didn't feel they needed to.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of my kids playing Zoombinis,
not a Nintendo or Playstation game,
but their ages match the story above.

NOTE: I hope your family can afford more, but our kids got seventy-five cents per year of age, weekly. So in the example above, if they were 9 and 12, Marty was getting $6.75 and Kirby was getting $9.00. Console games were $50 or $60 in those days.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Concepts, experience and emotions

When you consider what a thing is or what it's like, you not only make connections with other concepts, but experiences and emotions. You will have connections reaching into the past and the future, connections related to sounds, smells, tastes and textures. The more you know about something, the more you can know, because there are more and more hooks to hang more information on—more dots to connect.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top of the list

Lori Odhner wrote:
If parents want to give the best to their child, including warm clothes and good health care, an intact family should be at the top of the list.

Many of the maladies that claim marriages are completely curable.
—Lori Odhner
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a bed with mosquito netting, in Queensland

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Smooth and soft

Cass Kotrba wrote:

I am stunned, amazed and very grateful for the wisdom I have learned and continue to learn on this list.* It is amazing the impact it has had on all of our lives. And it has been surprising to experience how much our emotions impact our health. Even her skin, previously dry and bumpy, has improved. Radical unschooling has helped us be smooth and soft, inside and out.
—Cass Kotrba

 photo window.jpg

* The Always Learning discussion is the list on which that appeared. The original is here.
photo by Cathy Koetsier