Monday, February 29, 2016

Brain food in abundance

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Human brains are voracious and will feed on whatever is available. Unschoolers should be offering interesting experiences, ideas, stimulation, music, logic, conversation, images, movement, discovery, beauty, etc. Brain food in abundance. It requires effort. It requires attention to qualitative and quantitative aspects of learning. Depth and breadth—creating a lifestyle in which kids are offered the opportunity to learn a lot about some things and a little about a lot of things.
—Pam Sorooshian
Thanks to Marta Venturini Machado for finding and sharing that quote.
photo by Meghan Pawlowski

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Food as love

Offering a child food instead of waiting for him to ask has been frowned upon by some people as being pressure. I think that's wrong. Asking for cold pantry-food, or needing to ask someone to cook something isn't nearly as good as smelling food cooking, or seeing nicely-arranged food that's immediately available if you want it.
photo and homemade pita bread by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Point of view

"Being mindful won't prevent kids from getting frustrated but it will be a huge step in the right direction. Seeing the world from kids' point of view will help you understand why they are reacting to the world as they are."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Nancy Machaj

Friday, February 26, 2016

In the space of a breath

Robyn Coburn wrote:

My attitude continues to make the greatest difference to my happiness. Most of my needs are met in joyfully giving and being with my family. Those that are not met that way, are more able to be met when my daughter and husband are already happy and feeling generous. And if I am feeling like I need a break, I can take one in the space of a breath, a memory, a moment, a hug.
photo by Jane Clossick

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quick access

When I was first unschooling, we waited two months for a new issues of Growing Without Schooling. There was no internet discussion at all. When that began, a few years later, it was user groups, not even e- mail or webpages yet. Today someone can get more information about unschooling in one day than existed in the whole world when my oldest was five. I'm glad to have been part of honing, polishing, clarifying and gathering those ideas, stories and examples, and keeping them where others have quick access to them.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
photo by Ve Lacerda

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Better moments, days, and weeks

"Each and every moment is new. You can just try to make the very best choice in the next moment with your child. As the moments get better, so do the days and weeks. So all you need to do is make this moment the very best it can be. That's all."
—Ren Allen

The quote was provided by Eva Witzel. It goes well with
photo by Charles Lagacé

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When it's working...

Don't expect to be perfect, but expect yourself to be improving all the time.
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, February 22, 2016

As long and as far

They will trust you as long and as far as you are trustworthy.
photo by Sam Baykus

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Open portals

When books are an obsession, it's considered a virtue. When mathematics is an obsession it's considered genius. When history is an obsession, that's scholarly.

When rock and roll is an obsession or folk art, or dance… maybe not as easily impressive to the outside world. But as all things are connected, let your child see the world from the portals that open to him, and don't press him to get in line at an entryway that doesn't sparkle and beckon.

from page 189 (or 218) of The Big Book, which links to
photo by Lynda Raina

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Change one thing.

Change a moment. Change one touch, one word, one reaction. If you try to change your entire self so that next year will be better, you might become overwhelmed and discouraged and distraught.

Change one thing. Smile one sweet smile. Say one kind thing.

If that felt good, do it again. Rest. Watch. Listen. You're a parent because of your child. Your child. You should be his parent, or her parent. Not a generic parent, or a hypothetical parent. Be your child's parent in each moment that you interact with her.
photo by Jennie Gomes

Friday, February 19, 2016

Generous, thoughtful, considerate

Mary King Shawley wrote:

So I ask myself, what is my purpose? How do I want to be remembered? My purpose is to help my children grow and learn to be good humans and treat other people well.
—Mary King Shawley

Generous, thoughtful, considerate humans
photo by Janine Davies
(backup link to the article)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Where do you focus?

What you first see isn't all that's there. Different people notice different aspects. Don't be afraid of that. Explore it. Expect it! Enjoy it.
photo by Rachel Singer

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

If you've wound them up...

With anything, if a family moves from rules (about food, freedoms, clocks, what to wear) to something new, there's going to be the backlash, and thinking of catapults (or trebuchets, more technically, or of a rubber band airplane, or other crank-it-up projectile vs ...) the more pressure that's built up, the further that kid is going to launch if you let it go all at once.
photo by Ruqayya

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Full of joy

"We spend days and days watching TV, baking, doing origami, playing computer games, being silly, playing tag in the house, hide and seek. It's making me smile just writing it. It is so full of joy."
— Sarah Shields

Many other days of joy are here:
photo by Celeste Burke

Monday, February 15, 2016

Don't be vigilant

Being "vigilant" sounds like absolutely exhausting effort. Relax. You do not "have to be vigilant." Especially not on yourself. That's you watching yourself. Way too much work. Let go of one of those selves. Relax inside the other one. Have a snooze. Don't be vigilant.

When you wake up, think. Am I glad to be here? Is this a good moment? If so, breathe and smile and touch your child gently. Be soft. Be grateful. Find abundance. Gently.
photo by Celeste Burke

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Flexibility and change

"Be prepared to be flexible and willing to change as your child gets older."
—Emily Strength
photo by Janine

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happier. Sparklier.

An ever-improving understanding of unschooling will, incrementally and gradually, create a life in which the parent is HAPPY to have done better, been more interested and interesting. Where "more" is the goal. Happier. Sparklier.

Fiene driving the car in autopia in Disneyland
photo by Eva Witsel

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Seeing what is

Sometimes a heavy thing can seem much lighter if you accept what is, instead of arguing with the air about what you think SHOULD have been.

Be a light thing.
Rise up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Step up and see

The same life can be seen from many different angles.
The same situation can be seen while holding one's breath
and being furious,
or while seeing the alternatives
and finding ways to be grateful,
no matter how small,
because on one small bit of gratitude,
one can step up and see another one,
and another.
photo by Sukayna

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Humor and learning

dirt, rocks and three tiny cactus in a clear coffee cup
The connection between humor and learning is well known. Unexpected juxtaposition is the basis of a lot of humor, and even more learning. It can be physical, musical, verbal, mathematical, but basically what it means is that unexpected combinations or outcomes can be funny. There are funny chemistry experiments, plays on words, math tricks, embarrassingly amusing stories from history, and there are parodies of famous pieces or styles of art and music.
photo by Becky Sekeres

Monday, February 8, 2016

Makes sense

Two Nutcrackers and One Nut--a husband next to tall figures of nutcrackers
When the parents are curious and can find joy in exploring and discussing common interesting things in the everyday world, unschooling can make a lot of sense very easily. Optimism and positive attitudes help. If the children's comfort and joy can be a high priority and the parents can see the value of letting even young children begin to make choices, by the time the kids are teens they'll have had a great deal of real-world experience in making thoughtful decisions.

Sandra Dodd in a 2009 interview
photo by Susan Gaissert

Sunday, February 7, 2016

From the inside

Debbie Regan wrote:

From the outside, unschooling may look like no chores, no bedtimes, no education, no discipline, no structure, no limits, etc. But from the inside,
it's about learning, relationships, living with real parameters, partnership, navigating turbulence, making connections, joy, curiosity, focus, enthusiasm, options, following trails, fun, growing understanding, opening doors...
—Debbie Regan
photo by Ve Lacerda

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Support and accept

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

I really can't imagine villifying anything in their lives that they might find very exciting. Well, I can imagine it, so I guess that's why I don't do it.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Susanna Waters

Friday, February 5, 2016

Yourself and the world

People don't become really good at unschooling without changing the way they see themselves and the world.
To hear it:
To read it: Living Unschooling
If you have the book Natural Born Learners, turn to page 199 for a longer version.
photo: Erika Ellis

Thursday, February 4, 2016

All those people

To my children, I'm someone who's getting old who could hold them back (in a way). To me, though, I have all the stages my children have ever been. I still remember the babies, toddlers, "big kids" who could put their own shoes on. Big kids who learned to read and visited places without me, and big kids who went to jobs, and moved away.

The house is empty, but my heart is full of all those people.

A Series of Selves
photo by Isabelle Lent

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Improving the flow

One of the nicest thing I do for my husband is to withhold criticism. I could (and used to, when we were younger) say too much, comment too much. Letting things go by lets peace and love flow in.

P.S. It works with children, too.
or the same article in German: Bessere Partner werden
(though the quote is from a discussion)
photo by Sandra Dodd (it's a link)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


If you're going to unschool, do it wholeheartedly and happily.

If you're going to unschool, don't do it reluctantly. Don't do it resentfully.

(That advice works for just about everything.)
photo by Murtaza Usman

Monday, February 1, 2016

Once upon a grocery list...

In a past year, Karen James to her son Ethan: I'm going to the store. Do you want anything special?

Ethan, after a pause: Yeah. Lettuce.

Karen: Lettuce?

Ethan: Yeah, lettuce...and other good snack food like that.

Karen: Okay.
photo by Sandra Dodd, at an allotment garden in West Sussex