Monday, November 30, 2015

Any child would flourish...

"I think any child would flourish in a loving, supportive, interesting, fun, resource-rich, nurturing, stimulating environment."
—Amy Childs

Who can unschool?
(from Amy's podcast series on unschooling)
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, November 28, 2015

In thought and awareness

When someone recommends turning full on toward the child, that means don't keep reading your newspaper or your computer screen. Pause the video. Put down the gardening tools. It doesn't mean stare at the child until he finishes his story. It means to be WITH him, with him in thought, and with him in emotion if needed, and with him in awareness.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp,
of Adam, Julie and James Daniel


Friday, November 27, 2015

Look for moments

Karen James wrote:

Look for moments in the day that are good—especially the ordinary moments. Pause and appreciate them when you see them. Let them set the mood for how you move forward. Listen for pleasing sounds. A giggle. A child's breath. Your own heartbeat. Some music. Close your eyes, notice and appreciate those sounds. Find the ones that make you smile. Let your smile soften your mood.
—Karen James
Original quote from a post at Always Learning, November 26, 2015.
photo by Julie D

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not enough hands?

Instead of having a rule that kids had to hold my hand in a parking lot, I would park near a cart and put some kids in right away, or tell them to hold on to the cart (a.k.a. "help me push", so a kid can be between me and the cart). And they didn't have to hold a hand. There weren't enough hands. I'd say "Hold on to something," and it might be my jacket, or the strap of the snugli, or the backpack, or something.
"Hold on to something" or what?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quiet reflection

"Please take time for reflection. Take time for your mind to be calm and quiet."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Thank you"

A good project for this season: Maybe send a thank-you note.
Not to me.

Send a thank-you note to someone who has helped you this year, or maybe deliver one by hand to the nicest person at your grocery store, or a neighbor who smiles and waves.

Maybe someone has been nice to you online, and you could send an e-mail or a facebook message.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Other factors

It's hard to explain unschooling, partly because the best answers are "it depends," followed by questions for the parents to consider while they're making their decisions.

It depends on time available, time of day, safety, resources, the effect on other people, need for food or rest, and other factors I can't think of right now.

Some days a certain request would be just perfectly WONDERful to do/pursue, and the same request on another day might be a total flat-out "no" (or a "maybe later, but not during a funeral," or whatever it is).

Getting unschooling is a process. There will be more to get once you're comfortable with the new understandings and behaviors.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fill up your family

"You can't give what you don't have," some people say, and if you want your children to give generosity and kindness and patience to others, you should give them so much they're overflowing with it.

It works with respect, too.

Holly and Adam making Christmas cards
photo by Julie D, of Holly and Adam

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don't hackle or vex

zoo sign in Hindi and English telling people not to bother the animal

Good policy for the treatment of children, too! Keep all those things in the "bad idea" column, and choose their opposites whenever you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Books? Old books?

The edition of The New York Public Library Desk Reference we have might be a little outdated, but the rules of ice hockey haven’t changed, nor the way in which one addresses a letter to the Pope, nor the date of the discovery of Krypton. (Some of you thought it was just a Superman thing, didn’t you? Nope—1898, the year before aspirin.)

(Before the internet, people had reference books, and even then they seemed like trivia. Trivia can be the interesting door that leads to strange, new knowledge.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


"My Little Pony" figures and stories have changed over the years, but their contributions to happiness and learning continue to grow.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 16, 2015

An outpouring of love

How can one get from resentment and rigidity to an outpouring of love? Too mushy? It happens.
a red rose, in a soda bottle from India

Making the shift
photo by Sandra Dodd
I first credited Holly. She says she put the rose in the bottle,
but I'm the one who took the photo. It's been a while.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pay close attention

"Pay close attention to your children. Really see what they are doing, what they are interested in, what they are enjoying, what frustrates them, what they like and what they don't like."
—Karen James
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The important things

Children can only hear "no" so many times before they start to ignore it, so we helped them make good decisions when they were young, and saved "no" for really important things.
photo by Janine
and it's a link

Friday, November 13, 2015

What matters

I am willing to watch it with her because I know she loves it. I affirm something about her by taking her interest, her pleasure seriously. I let her know she matters by making it clear that she matters to me.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Easy flow

Jenny Cyphers, on overcoming fears:

If a parent has too many hangups, too many fears, too many issues, that they don't take out and examine, it will destroy what unschooling could be. People can get really wrapped up in fears and "what if's". Sometimes it consumes a person, a parent, a family. Happy, peaceful, unschooling can't flourish in those conditions. Fear creates blocks. Learning needs easy flow. Easy flow can happen naturally unless a person blocks it.
photo by Chrissy Florence, the day they saw a mom and baby whale

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy and comfortable

"What makes your child happy and comfortable?"
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, November 9, 2015

The kids will follow

If you're just starting to homeschool I have a few words of advice: Breathe. Smile. Your kids will be sharing your stress and fear, so move quickly to get over them. Meet experienced homeschoolers and model your practice on families you like and respect. Deschool yourselves, and the kids will follow easily.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sweet surprises

Find a comfortable way to relax into the flow of life, as often as you can, appreciating the sweet surprises along the way.
Round, coming around
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Joyfully harmonious

Meredith Novak wrote:

Expecting human relationships—of any kind—to be fair and equitable is a set-up for cynicism and disappointment in the human race. Human beings are marvelously varied in their needs and capabilities. It helps a whole lot to think in terms of needs and capabilities rather than rights or fairness or equality. What more can you do to support the people you love—including yourself? Kindness, grace, and generosity go a lot further toward creating warm relationships and a joyfully harmonious home than measuring out equality.

Being a Happy Mom
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, November 6, 2015

Joy is better

Happiness helps learning. Biochemically, joy is better than dismay. Optimism is better than negativity.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, November 5, 2015

*Time out*

Yesterday's post had the wrong time, so it will be delivered today (for those who subscribe by e-mail—1533 people). Thank you for reading!

The Bayeux Tapestry post on November 2 had the wrong photo credit at first. It was Leon McNeill, not Helene McNeill. Holly caught it in the morning, but the e-mails were already out there.

This is post # 1772 or so. That's quite a few. I missed the fifth anniversary of this blog, in September. If you're reading by e-mail and you wish I had written something different, click the title and you'll be between a randomizer and a set of "You might also like:" photos and links. Even if you've read them all, your own knowledge has grown and your perspective has changed, and what you saw before will look different now.

Reminder of another blog you might want to subscribe to:
Unschooling Site News,
blog-generated selfie by Sandra Dodd, while writing the notes above

Wednesday, November 4, 2015



Literally, scattering something out, like rose petals or herbs or straw on a medieval floor.

Figuratively, leaving interesting things out where they will be discovered.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Australian things Schuyler saved to show me

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ongoing and fluid

When life is whole, and not divided into school grades, then reflection, assimilation and connection are ongoing and fluid. In the absence of reporting periods, there's no need to evaluate periodically. Gain trust in learning, and then focus on providing a rich, peaceful environment.

Become an unschooling parent.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Special moments

Special moments can be planned or accidental, funny or profound. Sometimes there's a photo. Sometimes there will be just words, or a quiet memory. Plan a few, and be open to the unexpected.

Holly is ten years older now than she was on the day she saw the Bayeux Tapestry so closely, and her host-dad caught her profile. I'm glad to have this photo of Holly seeing something wonderful.

May you have many special moments, and many more of quiet, normal, peaceful nothing-so-special moments with those you love.

photo by Leon McNeill, of Holly Dodd, in 2005

Sunday, November 1, 2015


How much are supplies for unschooling? It ranges somewhere between nothing and everything—the whole budget. Once a family starts to consider everything educational, even groceries and cleaning supplies
are educational. For beginners, though, part of the trick is working on the definition of "educational."
. . . .
Learning is everywhere. The five dollars that will buy nothing but plastic pennies or pencils at some stores will buy a sackful of treasures other places.
That's old writing. I avoid the term "educational" now,
but start where you are and keep getting better!
photo by Colleen Prieto