Friday, March 31, 2017

Little bits of life

Look for beauty in the tiniest things in the smallest moments.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Unscheduled brilliance

"Let go of the fear of missing out; it will hamper your ability to be open to the cornucopia of unscheduled sparkling brilliance."
photo by Sandra Dodd
of an Australian possum I saw, thanks to Jo Isaac


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Your perspective will change

"Your perspective will change when you've experienced new things, seen the world from a different place."
—Debbie Regan
photo by Cheryl Balazs

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Love in the moment

Deb Lewis wrote:

One of the beautiful things about unschooling is it gives our kids time to really explore the things they love—to see where they might lead. And if they don't lead to a career or life-long hobby, the love of the thing, in the moment, is still a valuable experience. If you could magically know what would give your child joy, wouldn't you want to provide it? The magic is in trusting our kids to know what they want and in helping them do as much of that as we possibly can. It's not always easy or comfortable, but how do you put a price on learning and joy?
—Deb Lewis
photo by Stephanie Guthaus

Monday, March 27, 2017

Focus on the good

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

I wish things for our family had been different earlier than later, but it is what it is. Unschooling really helped make us better people. I can't even imagine, or rather I can, how different things would be with our relationships with our kids if they'd been in school all these years.

Kids absorb the good and the bad. Unschooling really focuses on the good, and that's, well, GOOD!
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blue Suede Shoes


Some time back there was a request for songs to be sung which would be educational. As music itself is a discipline, I think any music can be used as an educational tool. It can tie in with physical activity, mathematics, physics, history, geography, art, language, and it can be used to get kids excited and awake, or calm and asleep, or anything in between. I don't mean singing about math or history, either, but discussing the form of the music, the rhythm, the moods, the origins, the instruments on which it is traditionally played, the length and pattern of the verses (or phrases, or whatever), what its purpose is (a march, background music for a movie or for an 18th century fireworks show, a lullaby, a love song), etc.

Don't miss this fun and easy opportunity to tie different "subjects" together by using a song as a jumping off place to many different discussions. If you need ideas, name a song here and see how many suggestions you can get for it!


What's above was written in 1993. Someone named "Blue Suede Shoes," thinking it wouldn't net much. I just wrote and wrote that day, and luckily I printed it out and saved it. The link below leads to my response, commentary and a video of Elvis doing another song, that leads to another song, and... you know.
photo by Sandra Dodd (of some art right behind my house)


The tromp l'oeil art of full-sized cars on storage containers is still behind my house. The Elvis page has two added videos—not of Elvis, but things that one reminded me of, and then the other (added recently). I hope you have fun with all of this!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Living with food

You don't know what your children need. They won't know either, if they're never allowed to live in such a way that they will learn to pay more attention to their bodies than to a book or a menu, a calendar, a clock, or to their parents' fears and prejudices.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, March 24, 2017

Be that way

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Treat them the way you want them to treat others - It's easy to be nice when the kids are nice. The kids need to see how people (you) can be patient and kind when life isn't going smoothly. They need to see how to work with someone whose view is different. They will get to see that by how you treat them when their view is different from yours. If you treat their needs and feelings as less important, they'll learn to treat other's needs and feelings as less important. And then when you're old and bedridden, they'll say, "No, you don't need more tea, no, you don't need to finish that TV program. I have other things to do than tending to your needs. Can't you see how busy I am?"
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Erika Andromeda, of a patient child and his well-loved Great Grannny

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mind and awareness

Don't think of your brain. Think of your mind and of your awareness. A little tiny brain can hold a LOT of information. A big fat one can fail to do so. It's not size, it's peace and use.
photo by Charles Lagacé, of sundogs in Nunavut
("trois-soleils", in French)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


It's cool when something can be more than one thing. When you think of how to categorize an object, an idea, or an action, if you can give it more than one designation, it will have more "relatives"—more connections in the world.

Art? Apple? Fruit. Food. Gift. Inspiration, memory, photo-op!

Most things are many things.
photo by Brandie Hadfield

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Awareness in the way a mother touches and speaks to and thinks of her child in the next moment she is near him is the awareness that makes unschooling and peaceful parenting work.,
a page I chose because it has a reference to tigers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Along the way

Karen James wrote:

I've climbed big hills (physically and metaphorically) like this for a couple of decades now. I don't look up and think "That's going to be exhausting." I look up to get a sense of where I want to go. Then I start walking. As I walk, I listen to my breathing. I watch my progress. I notice the beautiful details along the way. I look up every once in a while to celebrate how far I've come. I haven't made it to the top of every hill I've wanted to climb, but I don't let that negatively influence my next attempt.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 18, 2017


One of my main principles has been that it's my job to protect the peace of each of my children in his or her own home insofar as I can. I'm not just here to protect them from outsiders, axe-murderers and boogie-men of whatever real or imagined sort, but from each other as well.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, March 17, 2017

Peacefully and respectfully

Karen James wrote:

Living in the world peacefully and respectfully are good places to begin to focus when new to unschooing. The best advice I was given was to look at my son. Not at ideals. Not at freedom. Not at school or no school. Not at labels. Not at big ideas. Look at my son. Be with him. Get to know him deeply. And, then to read a bit about unschooling. Give something new a try. See how it goes in the context of our real day to day life.

I still do that. I'm still learning.
—Karen James
photo by Karen James

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Unusual but doable

If a family is looking for rules and passivity, they can create a lifetime of it. If a family wants joy and learning, the creation is a bit more difficult and unusual but doable!
photo by Amber Ivey

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Principles and change

"Focussing on being my child's partner is helping me to place my real life children front and centre of my attention and to think deeply and respond kindly and appropriately to their particular needs in this particular moment."
—Zoe Thompson-Moore
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Childproof world?

Instead of childproofing the world, worldproof your child.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brighter than the sky

One time my neighbor's tree was brighter than the sky.

Sometimes my kids are brighter than I am. The older they get, and the older I get, the more often they outshine me in many ways. I do not mind one bit.
Photo by Sandra Dodd, in November 2010

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Old history

No one could make a website, or a book, or a library or a university with all the history you will come across in your life. Frolic! Delve.

Catch it in your peripheral vision. Learn it in relation to cooking or automechanics or learning which plants came from other countries when, and why. Why were airplane plants popular with Victorian ladies and with hippies? And the Victorian ladies couldn't have called them airplane plants, so what did they call them? And why did they have them? And what does NASA think of airplane plants? They're #1 on NASA's list! But wait... that's not just history. It involves geography, home decorating, botany and the space program. Don't stop 'til you get enough.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of root beer on the dashboard
outside Bode's in Abiquiu, New Mexico
(AB-i-cue, and BOE-deez)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What is real

Sandra Dodd, response in 2000 to: Can anyone explain to me "unschooling"?

It's like "just say no."

Just say no to school years and school schedules and school expectations, school habits and fears and terminology. Just say no to separating the world into important and unimportant things, into separating knowledge into math, science, history and language arts, with music, art and "PE" set in their less important little places.

Most of unschooling has to happen inside the parents. They need to spend some time sorting out what is real from what is construct, and what occurs in nature from what only occurs in school (and then in the minds of those who were told school was real life, school was a kid's fulltime job, school was more important than anything, school would keep them from being ignorant, school would make them happy and rich and right).

It's what happens after all that school stuff is banished from your life.
photo by Amber Ivey

Friday, March 10, 2017

Where the learning is

Even if you obtain the coolest tools or toys unschoolers could recommend, natural learning isn't in the toys, it's in the relationship between the adult and child—in the freedom and peace and time to explore and to think.
(The quote isn't there, but similar ideas are!)
photo by Janine

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kind of a background thing

Pam Sorooshian, on strewing:

Strewing might be what I did at the Live and Learn conference when I noticed that some of the leaves were turning colors and, as I was heading to our room, I picked some up off the ground and left them on the bathroom counter so that my daughter would happen to see them when she used the bathroom. I have no idea if she ever noticed them or not. Or it might be that I'm getting something out of a closet and I notice a game that hasn't been out and played in a while, so I set it out on the living room coffee table.

When the kids were little, I was very aware of and more intentional about this habit—I picked up interesting rocks or feathers, put out different kinds of paper or markers or tape or a puzzle or an old hat or anything that might, even if just for a moment, interest someone. Now it is just a way of life and I don't think about it, but we all do it. It is kind of a background thing that goes on in unschooling families—it is part of what creates a stimulating, enriched environment for our kids.
—Pam Sorooshian

Strewing: Definition and Suggestions
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What really matters

Meredith wrote:

"I always wonder what people expect when they ask unschoolers what materials they use, since it's a question that does come up now and then, generally by academic homeschoolers but sometimes in a daycare context.... The flattering reason, I guess, is that they think we're all geniuses at "making learning fun" but it's ultimately the wrong question. There aren't any special materials. Our homes are full of normal things, commercial toys, cartoon pajamas and pokemon sippy cups, tvs and video games, with piles of things that need to be sorted and put away slumped in corners, or cluttering up the couch and stairs. Many families unschool on slim material resources. The magic of unschooling is in the relationships."
—Meredith Novak
photo by Rachel Singer

"The magic of unschooling is in the relationships." —Meredith
(I repeated the last line because it's good.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Move toward "Why?"

I don't want to spend my volunteer time telling people what to do. I AM willing to help people move away from needing that, and toward seeing that WHY to do things will help them figure out hundreds and thousands of whats and whens and wheres.
photo by Shannon McClendon

Monday, March 6, 2017

Loving answers

Why does...?
Who will...?
When did...?
Where are...?
What is...?
Do you...?
Can I...?
I think...
Let's ask...
We can look...
As far as I know...

Treasure your child's questions and offer loving answers.
Relationships are built of these things.

photo by Sandra Dodd
re-run from 2010

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Learning will happen

If life is a busy, happy swirl, they will learn. Learning is guaranteed. The range and content will vary, but the learning will happen.
photo by Chrissy Florence
__ __

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Brief retirement

Someone wrote once:
"I really have to be vigilant on myself and try not to control."

I was amused, but responded, in part:

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 Charles Lagacé, in Nunavut

Friday, March 3, 2017

Positively trustworthy

Unless their joy and curiosity are snuffed out, your children will have interests and, if you're lucky, obsessions and hobbies. How negative do you want to be about those? Try to decide in advance so you're being mindful and aware when they show you their painted rocks or their plastic soldiers or their hip-hop video collection.
They will trust you as long and as far as you are trustworthy.
photo by Eva Witsel

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Generous and kind

You don't need to control yourself to keep yourself from being controlling. Make generous, kind choices, over and over, as often as you can.
photo by Hannah North

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stance and viewpoint

If there is a method to unschooling it's certainly not a simple one. It involves changing one's stance and viewpoint on just about everything concerning children and learning. That's not "a method." That's a life change.
photo of "the rock house" (small, at 10 o'clock), from Sandia Tram,
by Sandra Dodd