Wednesday, August 31, 2016

One tiny step

Taking the dog for a walk in beautiful fall light

Until you drop the idea of teaching, you won't see the learning all around you.

One tiny step opens up a new world of learning.
photo by Eva Witsel

(Okay, maybe it's not a tiny step, but even if it's a series of awkward steps, get over there!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Criss-cross trails

Do the best you can to survive the bumps and unexpected turns of the trails through the unschooling world, which will necessarily cross back over and through themselves, which is how learning works–a little now, a little more later to connect to what you've learned since, and detours that end up being short cuts.

The quote is from page 3 of The Big Book of Unschooling.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 29, 2016

A mysterious little door

Sometimes a litle door might be literal, or sometimes figurative, but little doors can lead to many wonderful things! All the doors you've ever seen are connected in you. They open into all different places and spaces in your memory and your imagination.

Hidden secret rooms...
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cleaning the future

I had been unschooling for years before a few people suggested on a message board that requiring kids to do chores could be as bad as making them do schoolwork. I perked up immediately, and everything they said has proven true at our house. The first principle was "If a mess is bothering you, YOU clean it up." Another one was "Do things for your family because you *want* to!"

It was new to me to consider housework a fun thing to be done with a happy attitude, but as it has changed my life and because it fit in so well with the other unschooling issues, I've collected things to help others consider this change as well.

In the same way that food controls can create food issues, forcing housework on children can cause resentments and avoidances which neither get houses clean nor improve the relationships between children and parents.

Also, studies of separated identical twins have shown that the desire and ability to clean and organize has more to do with genetics than "training."
photo by Sandra Dodd
"That's a rad picture; I think I was eleven." —Holly

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Inside, outside

Where I didn't expect to see it, there was a small, quiet, mysterious depth. A beautiful plant was growing from it.

It reminded me of every good thing about learning and parenting.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 26, 2016

More or less

I often think back to the things I learned in La Leche League, from readings and other moms. If you nurse a child a long time does it make him dependent on the mom? Seems to be the opposite. If you hug a child every time he wants a hug, does it make him want a hug-a-day for life? You WISH!

The more they get, the less they need.

Quote from a very-early online chat for homeschoolers,
late 1995 or early 1996,
Photo of Kate Koetsier and her 10th Birthday cake
by her mom, Cathy, several years ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Then what?

With logic, or engineering, storytelling, sports or tricks, it's fun to wonder about the result one change or action will have.

Mindfulness is about remembering that what I'm doing right now is going to have an effect on what will happen next, not just in my own life, but in other people's lives.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless moments

Sometimes living lightly means letting things pass without comment. Words can be fun, but there is fun without words.
photo by Janine Davies,
of Kes and Holly

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Upward and onward

Our future doesn't need to be a repeat of our past.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 22, 2016

Play as work

People like to say that play is the work of children

Why think of something as "work" when it's light and fun? When you see that learning can happen all the time, play can be play.
photo by Brigita Usman

Sunday, August 21, 2016


One country's trash is another country's mysterious antique treasure.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Facets and aspects

This morning I was playing Dixit with people I hadn't played with before. So different! The odd pictures can be many different things, and the clues given were unexpected and interesting.

This photo, by Shonna Morgan, looks like light. A harp. A sail. A bridge. Well, it IS a bridge.

A bridge can be figurative or literal, but it's a connection, and a short cut. A "real bridge" might be a log, or a traditional rope or plank bridge, or it might be an engineering marvel that brings people and places together.

See the same thing in different ways, as often as you conveniently can.
photo by Shonna Morgan

Friday, August 19, 2016

Recent history

Sorting out news from "current events" from history isn't as easy as it once was, with the internet and with so many sources and resources.
Some history isn't very old at all, while other history is archeology and paleontology.

If you think of it all as stories, people, places, things, trivia and connections, it won't matter what label school might have put on it. Have fun with history!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Into the future

Do all the things that make unschooling better, and your life will be better in ways you never could have foreseen.
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A good question

When people change directions concerning their children's lives and learning, sometimes they ask what they should do and how they should do it.

A better question to ask is "Why?"
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Softer words

Some parents express their learning as "struggle" or "challenge," but those words are antagonistic. Try to relax, and try not to feel that you're wrestling (with your child's desires, or with your own thoughts).

If you can find softer words, you will experience softer emotions.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a flowering plant
growing out of a rain spout
on a castle


Monday, August 15, 2016

Unexpected art

It's easy to think of art as colors on flat paper or flat canvas. It's too easy to think of that as what art *is,* but now that your life is all about learning and being observant, look up, look down, look all around!
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a full-sized dog sculpted from sand
on a street in Windsor, in England

Sunday, August 14, 2016


So sorry to have missed two days! There was travel, and sleeping, and time change, and I'm on another continent. They drive funny and speak differently, and I need to think faster, so I sleep more.

There are advantages to staying quietly and peacefully in familiar places sometimes.

Try not to let confusion scare you. Set a good example for others. Relax if you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Surprises and discoveries

Rather than tell a child in advance what's about to be seen, it can be wonderful to let them feel they've discovered something on their own. A surprise can be so stimulating that the memories will be more vivid. And the discovery becomes a personal accomplishment.

If the parent is surprised too, that's a bonus, but if you can allow for someone else to be surprised, it can be a kindness and a gift.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Spooky for fun

Interesting mysteries are like amusement-park rides for our brains. Once in a while, think spooky thoughts, and come back happy., or
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tricky, trickier...

This life is deceptively difficult, and yet so simple!

It’s trickier than it looks, and once the tricks are learned, it’s easy!
photo by Sam Baykus

Monday, August 8, 2016

Flower Bath

I lifted the title of this post from Lydia Koltai's name for this photo she took. Naming these posts is fun but sometimes difficult, as I try not to duplicate even those I've borrowed from years ago. I like to hope that someone who doesn't open the e-mail, or read the text, might still be inspired by the title. "Flower bath" qualifies in that way.

Combine things that haven't been combined at your house. Do something that has never been done in your life before.
(The words above are Sandra Dodd's, new today,
but the link is to "Becoming Courageous," by Deb Lewis.)
photo by Lydia Koltai

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Neediness, and lack of it

When I was little I didn't get things, and I was told no a lot, and I still get
a thrill from spending money,
eating out, getting something new. It's as though
something in my broke, when I was little, and a switch is stuck that makes me
want something, vaguely. My kids don't have that at all, none of them.

Keith said he wanted them to grow up undamaged, and this might be part of what "undamaged" looks like. They're realistic and not needy.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a design on a lampshade

This post is a repeat, but anyone who remembers it from five years ago
might see it differently now.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gradually easier

When it starts to become a habit for a parent to consider peace, safety, acceptance, choices, service and gratitude in everyday decision making, parenting gradually becomes easier.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Old things, odd things, useful or interesting things...

Textures, shapes, colors, perspective.

Even if you don't share them with your children, the more you can see and appreciate them, the more understanding you will probably be of what they do notice and comment on. Seeing beyond "right answers," and seeing past what SHOULD be important will open up the world.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Richly and joyfully

Unschoolers don't "just live." They live large. They live expansively, and richly and joyfully. Those are the things that make it work.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Plans change

When you can, allow for flexible plans. Your vision of the moment might not be as good as what could spontaneously occur. Sometimes, instead of calling your child back, follow her out of the frame.
(New words here, many good words there.)
photo by Beth Lamb

Monday, August 1, 2016

Your part

Berend helping his niece at the zooMake the world more peaceful by being a peaceful part of the world.
photo by Eva Witsel