Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Deep and wide and whole

Once someone wrote that her child was doing passive things, and had no interest in learning the basics. Amy Carpenter wrote something wonderful about active learning. This is just a bit of it. There's a link to the rest, below.

We recently took Fisher to a Blue Man Group concert—his first real "grown-up" show. Again, I could see all the connections being made—he watched how the instruments were being played, listened to how the sounds and the rhythms came together, jumped and bopped his head and let it all come together inside of him. His knowledge and awareness of music is growing deep and wide—it's not about "the basics," but about a gestalt, a holistic, systemic approach.

When you ask what component you are missing, this is what I keep coming up with. Are you looking in the wrong places? Are you looking for the basics when in fact, your son's knowledge and understanding is deep and wide and whole? What you see as "basic" are just a few Lego pieces that he'll fill in as he goes—but in looking for those, are you missing the incredibly large, whole creation that he's built up?

from Amy Carpenter's writing, here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Projects and interests

Make room in your heart and your life and your house for your child's interests.

Holly Dodd, working on a costume
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 29, 2017

Airy and bright

"Add light" can notch us up into the... lighter light.

It's not just sunshine that's light. There is firelight, candlelight, the glow of an iPad on a happy face, a flashlight under the covers, moonlight.

There can also be light from within—bright eyes, and a warm smile.

Light as in not heavy or ponderous—lighten up in that way, too.

Light humor. A light step. Light music, with a light lunch.

I hope this will bring to light some ways for you to light up your own life and some of the lives around you.
photo by Hannah North

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Because they're people

Meredith Novak wrote:

"A lot of unschooling involves learning how to listen to one another, how to build up understanding and partnership in relationships, rather than tearing it down. Virtually all of the principles of how that works work with husbands as well as kids — not because men are babies, but because men and children are people, and we know a lot of things about how people learn and build relationships."

Becoming a Better Partner (or Meredith's post)
photo by Brandie Hadfield

Friday, May 26, 2017

A challenge

"Unschooling becomes the ultimate
challenge against modern selfishness."
(From a longer commentary on Precisely How to Unschool)
photo by Janine

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Safe and peaceful shelter

Shelter your kids from what you know is ugly. Shelter me too, if I'm around.

It's really okay to "cherry pick" in regard to the stories you let into your day. There's enough horror somewhere on the planet at any moment to make us all suicidal, so make it a habit NOT to collect or dwell on those stories. You have a responsibility to create as safe and peaceful a nest as you can for your own family.

Thank you, Heather Booth, for saving that and putting it where I could find it again.
art and photo by Sandra Dodd
(the switchplate near our kitchen sink)

This is a re-run of a post from 2012

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Learning and learning and...

I have always looked at learning. Learning was and is my goal—I keep learning, the kids are learning—and one of my principles, and one of my convictions. Children can learn from a rich, supportive environment.
old photo from carol singing at a nursing home with baby Marty and sleepy Kirby

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More doors

We are here now.

We have been other places in the past.

We will be in surprising places in the future.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 22, 2017

Detox, gradually

For a child, deschooling is just the time to relax and get used to being home and with Mom—a child who’s been to school. A child who hasn’t been to school has no deschooling to do.
But for parents, deschooling is detoxification from a lifetime, and recovery from all of their schooling and whatever teaching they might have done. And it’s also the start of a gradual review of everything...

They don’t need to do it in advance, they don’t need to do it right at first. It’s so big, but it’s also gradual—it's just like living and breathing and eating and sleeping. Because every day a little more can come to the surface and be examined as it pops up.

Changes in Parents
The quote is from a recent podcast of Pam Laricchia interviewing me.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Peace inside

Peace, like learning, is largely internal.

Mother Teresa could have found a more peaceful place than Calcutta, but she was helping people find peace in non-peaceful surroundings.
photo by Sukayna

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Small but important

floor scenario with kitchen bottles and toy dinosaurs

Size, age, volume, cost...
Value and priorities, for unschoolers, might begin to surprise you and continue to do so.

Don't judge importance too quickly.

Learning is everywhere.
photo by Lynda Rains

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be dignified

Be dignified, if you want your children to respect you and to grow up to be dignified themselves. You cannot maintain your dignity and also embrace INdignity. Breathe and think of your children's need for peace so that unschooling can thrive in your home.

Indignation is not a virtue.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Something different

tugboat with truck tires mounted on it for pushing and bumping

Things you are used to are exotic to others. There are things you see every day that some people might never, ever see in person.
Lightning storms.
Cargo bikes.
Lifts / elevators.
Shave ice.

Inventory your special local treasures!
photo by Sandra Dodd
(click it for a video)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Friends might be siblings or cousins or neighbors, or might be in other towns or states or countries.

Skype and gaming can help them stay in contact.

If parents can find some opportunities to host or to visit, they should remember that the children will be learning from and with each other, while they gain fond memories. Consider it an expense of unschooling, to visit friends.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweet healing

It will help you heal from your childhood, to be a good mother. Seeing your own child's bright eyes when you do something sweet can heal the child inside you who would have loved to have had someone do that to, for, with her, years ago.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The flow of history

 child using a typewriterWhat is new now might be an antique before your children are grown.

Try to ride the gentle flow of time and progress.
photo by Amber Ivey

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Travel interesting paths

Even in the long term, unschooling is not about the completion of a project at all. It’s about becoming the sort of people who see and appreciate and trust that learning can happen. And who can travel with children, not just drag them along or push them along, but who can travel with children along those interesting paths together not until you get there, but indefinitely.

And for beginning unschoolers that sounds also a little esoteric, a little foofy. And not solid. They want to know what do I do when the kids wake up in the morning? So, the beginning information is very often, “What do I do?” But the information that will get people from the beginning to the intermediate is why. "Why do we do this?"
photo by Elise Lauterbach

The quote is from a new podcast of Pam Laricchia interviewing me.
I tweaked the quote just slightly, capitalizing "even"
and using "unschooling" rather than "it."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Quietly, just look

Look quietly.

At least once a day, just look quietly.
snowy owl against grey sky
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Do it!

"That's how unschooling works. By living life as if it were an adventure. As if you only had a limited amount of time with that child. Because that's the way it IS."
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How you see them

"Unschooling is all about how parents are seeing their kids."
—Jill Parmer
photo by Brie Jontry

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Aiming for learning

"Aiming for freedom can send radical unschoolers down some dangerous and goofy paths. Aiming for learning, exploration, discovery, peacefulness, and connectedness is much more helpful to radical unschooling."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, May 8, 2017

Half a lifetime ago...

Marty was fourteen. By the time this is read, he might be older. But he was fourteen, it was Saturday, and I was playing something on Neopets.

Marty came in and said, "Mom, you know what I really need?" I didn't know. Had I been pressed to guess, I might've thought maybe he wanted the new Nickelback CD, or maybe a hamburger, or to win the lottery. Though his question had been more hypothetical, mine was real:


"A map of the New Mexico Territory when Arizona was a part of it."

I might never have guessed that one, so I'm glad he told me.

As I post this quote and photo, Marty is 28 now and still loves maps.

Read the rest of "What Marty Really Needed":
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 7, 2017


You may pass through the same door again, but you will be different each time.

Where you are right now will never be exactly the same again.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Not everything, but something

"We can't magically afford everything, but very often we can afford something."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dividing is divisive

"I was thinking the other day about husbands and chores and how many people I've heard say that it shouldn't be their job to pick up after their husband. I never thought of picking up my husband's things as being my cleaning up after him—I've only thought of it as cleaning our house. Does it matter whose laundry or dishes they are? Does he shovel only his own side of the driveway and leave me to climb snowbanks to get to my side of the car? Dividing things yours-and-mine, even socks, in one's internal thoughts doesn't seem to add much happiness."
—Colleen Prieto
rainbow on child's hand

Chores, Serving others as a gift, tales of kids helping out voluntarily
(a chat transcript)
photo by Janine

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Find your options

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Lots of people go through their whole lives never feeling like they had choices in many many areas of their lives in which they really did. Just like it is useful for unschoolers to drop school language (not use the terms teaching or lessons or curriculum to refer to the natural learning that happens in their families) it is useful to drop the use of "have to's" and replace it with an awareness of choices and options.

How we think—the language we use to think—about what we're doing, matters.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The world changes

Even without anyone trying, the world changes. Ironically, we try to make the world better, and on the same day can feel sad that things are different.

We change. Our children change. Trees and buildings and cars change.

Miss the past gracefully. Accept changes with sweetness.

That will make the world better.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Own the good stuff

If parents retain ownership of their children's learning,
the children cannot learn on their own.

What I've just said above is / will be / has been misinterpreted to mean the parents should throw up their hands, back off, and not say a word. That's not what I mean at all. Possibly the very same interactions can occur, but the balance of power and responsibility can change by changing the phrasing and definitions.

Own joy management, or trust-earning or something.
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, May 1, 2017

Peace and joy

Bring her home, surround her with peace and joy. Don't fight with her. Just love her. There is much more at stake here than her "education."
—Pamela Corkey
photo by Chrissy Florence