Thursday, June 30, 2016

Small change, big deal

Every time "have to" comes up in writing, speech or thought, back up two words and see it as a choice, and not a have to.

You don't "have to" do that, but your ability to make choices and to live a life of abundant gratitude will be hampered if you don't.
photo by Eva Witsel

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sunshine and water
photo by Janine, of her boys—
and if it's been used before, it's worth seeing again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fun shelter

"Don't shelter them from the world. Don't let them loose in it. Walk with them, paying attention to what it looks like they need to know (not what you think they should know). Partner with them in this real world we live in, so that they can learn, with your guidance and support, how to make the most of their explorations and their ever-growing experience."
—Karen James
photo by Hinano

Monday, June 27, 2016

Service and nurturing

Service and nurturing can make parents better humans.

Not being served, or being nurtured, but being of service and being nurturing to others.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Smiling and helpful

Children are born learning, and unless and until that joy is extinguished (by school or pressure or shaming or belittlement), it will thrive and grow. Learning is easy when the people around are smiling, encouraging and helpful.
The quote came from a comment I made on a YouTube video.
After I wrote it, I thought I should share it here.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adam learned from Pokémon...

"If you lose at first, try again — it doesn't mean you will never win.

If you lose, shake the other person's hand.

It isn't possible to be unbeatable."
—Adam Daniel
(when he was six)
and there's more of that list at
photo by Tim Mensch

Friday, June 24, 2016

Perpetual learning

Once school is behind and life is in front, learning becomes self-perpetuating.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Everything in the Whole Wide World

There is a Sesame Street book called Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum. There is a "things under the sea" room and "things in the sky" room, but still each room is just a room in a museum, no windows, everything out of context. Then he opens a big door marked "Everything Else" and...

The picture that follows is here, and more text, but what's outside the door of your own home is more important.

art by Joe Mathieu, early 1970's

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Peace and convenience

Our lives are peaceful, our pressures are self-inflicted and mostly optional, we’re free to visit historical sites when there are no crowds, to leave town during the week, to sleep late or have guests whenever it’s convenient for us, without regard to school’s schedule.
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What if?

What if.... you dig a hole in your back yard? What if you leave laundry in the washing machine? What if you think dangerous thoughts?

What if you keep your child home from school for one year?
What if you keep him home longer?

What if you create such a rich life that not only is your child learning, but so are the parents? So are visitors to your house?

What if you click the link below, and read more about all of that?
photo by Karen James

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Whole and functional

It has been a long time since I worried about whether they would grow up whole and functional. They were whole, functional, bright and conversant all along.
—Sandra Dodd, in 2006,
even less worried in 2016
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Rise up and see

"When you are in a defensive crouch you can't see the bigger picture."
—Sylvia Woodman
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 17, 2016

Night swims

A mom named Melissa shared a special evening, years ago:

It was so beautiful to see their happiness and contentment shining in the pool late at night. The soft glow through the water was enough to light their faces,
and they were happy to be out and playing games with dad and mom. We floated in the noodle chairs and watched lightning bugs. We counted stars and adopted some as our own. We all gathered around Avari in her baby floatie and laughed as she splashed her way around to try and get the floating glow sticks. Rachel learned to dive under water so she could catch as many as Emily was getting.

I took the big plunge with unschooling, and I'm still finding little things I didn't realize I was ruining for everyone. We stayed up swimming until midnight. The little ones got out on their own and climbed into bed as they got tired.
photo by Charles Lagace, of northern lights in Nunavut, not of glow sticks in a pool

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A tool, a toy, a game

My kids think math is a tool and a toy and a game. Why would they want to be saved from it?

"We don't have to know that" isn't anything I have ever heard my children say. Because there is nothing they do "have to learn," there is nothing that is off their learning list either. In artistic terms, without the object there is no field. In math-lingo, they have the infinite universal set. In a philosophical light, they avoid the dualism of learning and not-learning.
Photo by Sam Baykus

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Distance and perspective

If people learn to use "learn" instead of "teach," it helps them move to another angle, to see things through a different lens.
Some people see experienced unschoolers ("experienced" meaning in this context people who have done it well and effortlessly for years, who aren't afraid anymore, who have seen inspiring results) mention classes, and they think "Ah, well if the experienced unschoolers' kids take classes, then classes are good/necessary/no problem."

But 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. If you turn away from the academics and truly, really, calmly and fully believe that there is a world that doesn't revolve around or even require or even benefit from academic traditions, *then* after a while you can see academics (research into education, or classes, or college) from another perspective.
photo by Heather Booth

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Patience and understanding

I didn’t expect unschooling to make things so sweet between me and Keith.
Partly Keith's just a nice guy, but principles that applied to the kids applied to the adults, too, and we all experienced and shared more patience and understanding.

The more I got to know Marty, the more ways I saw him like Keith, and because I was sympathetic to those traits in Marty which had bothered me in Keith, I became more sympathetic to and understanding of Keith.
photo at Marty's wedding, in 2014

Monday, June 13, 2016

So many paths

I love the potential in this photo. There is too much to explore, but the options are up, down, through, around. It reminds me that we live in the moment that connects the past and the future.

The world is too big for anyone to see everything. History will never all be discovered or known. The best we can do for ourselves and our children is to view their surroundings with wonder and curiosity. We can help them experience small things and large, old things and new.
photo by Sukayna

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fairly easy

Deb Lewis wrote:

Figure out what would help you the most and make the changes to make it happen. Maybe that means putting a garbage can in every room, having baskets or bins to chuck stuff into, having a container of those premoistened cleaning wipes in every room. Get a Roomba and let it go. Cook enough for two meals one night so you don't have to cook the next night, etc. Joyce recommended a pizza night so you don't have to cook. You could have sandwich night and everyone can eat off paper towels.
—Deb Lewis
photo by Rachel Singer

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Be aware

BE AWARE of who this child is and of your potential to help or to harm.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Little moments

Life is made of little moments.

A good life is made of moments seen and appreciated.
photo by Meghan Pawlowski

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Fill your house with peace

"Fill your house with peace, toys, interesting things, good food, and love. Create abundance, not scarcity, even if you have very little in terms of monetary resources. Love and peace and happiness don’t cost a thing."
—Colleen Prieto
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Adapt and change

Saying "positive things" when someone is having problems is most likely to keep them from making any changes that would improve the situation. Assuring an absolute stranger that she's a great mom is not only useless—it can be harmful.
. . . .
I'm willing to support people in their quest to understand natural learning and mindful parenting, but that support involves helping them understand the principles behind why it works, and finding ways to adapt their lives in ways that will help it flourish in their families.
photo by Erika Ellis

Monday, June 6, 2016

Knowledge grows everywhere

My strongly held belief about most things is that no one knows for sure, knowledge grows and changes, but that stress and fear are always harmful.
photo by Ve Lacerda

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mindfully and deliberately

"By relinquishing the desire to control, you help your child onto the path of living mindfully themselves, making choices and decisions mindfully and deliberately, instead of reactively."
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Celeste Burke

Saturday, June 4, 2016


It's okay not to share everything you think.

Children's thoughts are their own, but if you're interesting and interested, they might share their thoughts with you.
photo by Jennie Gomes

Friday, June 3, 2016

The easy way

When someone wrote "I may be taking the easy way out by just waiting until my son is older...," I responded (in part):


Make people’s lives easy. Don’t think there’s virtue in allowing difficulties to continue.

Make his life easier, if you can do it in some simple way.

The world will provide obstacles and difficulties enough. Let it be your duty and joy to provide a haven.
photo by Abby Davis

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Nice, and patient

Being nice to another person is what makes one nice.

Being patient with another person is what makes one patient.

If a parent says hatefully "BE GOOD," he's not being very good.

Instead of telling a young child "Be nice, and be patient," the parent should be nice, and patient. It's a generality, and a truism, but it's generally true.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Ren Allen wrote:

"You can read all the books, you can talk to unschoolers, attend a conference and join some lists. But until you GET IT at the internal level, until there is trust and a willingness to extend that trust to your children, unschooling is just a nice idea or philosophy to discuss...nothing more. For those that decide to learn to trust themselves and their children, they soon find their lives a bubbly, interesting swirl of natural learning."
—Ren Allen
photo by Hinano