Friday, June 30, 2017

In the world

I will know more later, but from my vantage point as someone with two "of age" boys and a girl about to turn eighteen, it seems that the adult products of unschooling turn out to be adult humans who were relatively unhampered as they learned and grew.

 small wildflowers in the bottom of a glass bowl

Many things we have been told and assumed were natural human behavior seem now to be natural side effects of schooling.

School promises a child that if he's good, someday he can take his place in the world. They're still making him that promise when he's a young adult: "Someday…"

Unschooled children are in the world from an early age. When they reach adulthood they have a carriage and calm that I believe came from having being respected as people for many years. It's hard to describe, but impossible to ignore.
[page 264 (or 305— "Young Adults") of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Move on

"When you have a bad moment, admit it. Move on."
—Sarah Anderson-Thimmes
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trust learning

"Don’t trust children to be right. Trust children to be able to make a guess and then learn from what happens."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Investing in the future

Karen James wrote:

Find as many ways as you can to fill your daughter's cup. Surprise her one day with some new creation for her dolls. Set them up in an interesting scenario, and wait until she finds them. Sit down and play with them with her. Grab a Kleenex. Make a skirt. Build a house out of a cardboard box. Help her decorate it. Buy a second hand one, and let her find it one morning. Get really creative and enjoy this time with your daughter.

More and more I'm discovering it's not so much about giving, as it is about building, and investing. You are setting the foundation for your daughter's future interactions with the people she will come to hold dear..."
—Karen James

Read about Karen's Barbies, memories, and ideas here:
photo by Karen James

Monday, June 26, 2017

A loud, happy home

A loud, happy home is more peaceful than a quiet home where people are afraid to "disturb the peace."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy memories

Think about what creates happy memories.

Something new and different. Time to play and relax. Smiles.

If you can think of what might mar a day like that, picture it as something to avoid. People can't be happy all the time every day, but the more you can allow happiness to flow, the more happiness you will see, and the more happy memories your children can have.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, June 23, 2017

Not just for kids!

I've been saying "why not?" more often and it feels good! I think it's rubbing off on my husband.
        . . . .
Say "yes" to saying yes!
Read the middle of that story with a sweet example:
photo by Hinano

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Options, doors, choices

Robyn Coburn wrote:

The idea of Unschooling is for parents to be the facilitators of options, the openers of doors, the creators of environments of freedom, and the guardians of choice, not the installers of roadblocks and barriers. Unschoolers are making the huge and wonderful choice to renounce our legal entitlements to be the authoritarian controllers of our children's lives, and instead choose to be their partners.
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ideas and trivia

Learning isn't in fancy books or computer games, it all happens in the ideas children have, in the trivial facts they fit together to come up with their view of the world—past present and future. You don't need a lesson or a unit to show a child what's wonderful about woodgrain, ice crystals on the windshield, or birdsongs. Five seconds worth of pointing and saying "Look, these trees were not native to North America" might possibly lead to an hour long discussion, or a lifelong fascination. Bringing something interesting home, browsing in an antique shop, listening to new music on instruments you've never heard—all those build neural pathways and give you a chance to be together in a special place.

Quote from the 1998 article "All Kinds of Homeschooling"
photo by Holly Dodd
of art by Holly Dodd
which happened to catch a rainbow


Tuesday, June 20, 2017


 a sleepy seal

Sometimes "bored" means tired, low on energy, needing a break from conscious thought and responsibility. Arranging a nap, or putting on a soothing video (even for older kids—a romance instead of an action flick, or light drama instead of comedy), leaving a pillow on the couch and herding the rest of the family in other directions might result in an unplanned but needed nap.
photo by Karen James

Monday, June 19, 2017

Time is inconsistent

Time is theoretically some sort of mathematical constant, but parents know that a day can seem to last forever, and a season can seem like a lifetime—then in retrospect seems to have zoomed by.

We can't live in "how will I survive this?" time nor can we live well by pining for that past we've already lived through. The best way to get through must be to do a better thing. If a conscious thought about time passage comes, think of what will be an improvement, and make that choice, however tiny, however slight.
Avoiding regret, contributing joy...
time will flow as it will,
but we can move closer to peace.

The writing here is new, but here is more on this perspective:
photo by Sandra Dodd, on a carousel in Austin

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How do you decide?

green garden hose, swirled, tangled, on carpet, with a cat standing on it looking up

So how do you choose? You decide where you want to go before you decide to turn left or right, don't you?

Just like that.

The way to know the right direction is to identify the wrong direction.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A better friend

"One of my epiphanies as a parent actually came when I realized I was not being as good a friend to my own kids as I was to my adult friends. Changing that made a world of difference."
—Lyla Wolfenstein
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 16, 2017

Things and places

I like museums, but if you can see the whole world as a museum, your life will light up!

If you can see art in normal, functional things, your life will lighten up!
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a dam and some tumbleweeds

Thursday, June 15, 2017


"Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of 'side benefit'."
—Pam Sorooshian
Principles of Unschooling
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Much better!

There are no "violent video games." Kids are sitting on a couch in their parents' home pushing buttons on a remote control. That's not hurting them or anyone else. (Or young adults are home sitting and pushing buttons, instead of being out drinking or vandalizing something.)

In every single case of real-life violence anyone can think of, wouldn't it have been better if the perpetrator had been home on the couch than out causing trouble? 🙂
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gradual and constant improvement

Those who really want to unschool well should probably read something every day or three, from my site, or Joyce's or somewhere. Waiting until there's a problem and asking a narrow question will not be as good as gradually and constantly improving one's understanding to the point that there aren't many problems.
(Those who read here every day might be okay,
but you might want to follow the link, too.)
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, June 12, 2017

Social interactions

If you turn 180 degrees away from the myth and fantasy of how many friends kids have at school, and look at the real world in which you plan to live, things will look different.

Find people to visit, find places to go where other people will be. Begin to see people as people, rather than as pre-schoolers or school-age, or second grade. Just practicing that will take you MUCH nearer to peace about interactions with other people.
photo by Janine

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quiet courage

Deb Lewis wrote:

There was a study...that found babies could quickly learn the names of objects they found interesting but not of objects that didn’t interest them. And if they heard only the name of a boring object but could see an interesting object, they attached the name to the interesting thing.

Unschoolers have been thinking about the importance of interest to learning for years.
—Deb Lewis

from "Becoming Courageous", by Deb Lewis
photo by Abby Davis

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Embracing now

Embrace your present moment instead of yearning for what you don't have. I love the saying 'the grass is always greener where you water it.'
—Clare Kirkpatrick
photo by Janine

Friday, June 9, 2017

Looking and learning

Amy Carpenter wrote:

For us, right where our kids were—loving music and TV and video games—was a great starting place for more. Going to concerts, finding out how different bands have influenced each other, figuring out how people have made the movies they've posted on YouTube, researching FAQs, talking with other gamers, looking up weapons that are used in the video games, playing the music we've heard in video games, pretending and finding new connections through our pretend games, talking through the logic of different strategies, looking up actors on IMDB—all of this keeps leading to more and more learning about how the world works, about how the creative process works.
—Amy Carpenter
photo by Rhiannon Theurer

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thinking for fun and profit

Research means reading three or ten places, not just one. Don't consider all sources equal. If you think about it, try it out, and it helps, great! If it doesn't make sense or seems like superstition, be wary.
photo by Renee Cabatic

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Doing it

Until a person stops doing the things that keep unschooling from working, unschooling can't begin to work.

It seems simple to me. If you're trying to listen for a sound, you have to stop talking and be still.

Some people want to see unschooling while they're still teaching and putzing and
assigning and requiring.

They have to stop that FIRST. And then they have to be still. And then they have to look at their child with new eyes.

If they don't, it won't happen.
photo by Sukayna, in Lebanon

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Something extraordinary

New from Joyce Fetteroll:

It helped me think more clearly about unschooling when I realized unschooling isn’t something kids do. Unschooling is something parents do. Unschooling is *parents* creating a learning environment for kids to explore their interests in.

Unschooled kids aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. They’re merely doing what comes naturally. They’re doing what all animals with lengthy childhoods do. They learn by doing what interests them in an environment that gives them opportunities to explore.

Unschooling is parents doing something extraordinary. It’s deliberately creating an environment where kids are supported in pursuing their interests.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Unschooling is...
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, June 5, 2017

More time, less worry

The more time parents spend with their children, doing interesting things together, the less they will worry about other things.

Marta saved the quote from a post on Always Learning.
Here's something similar:
photo by Karen James, a few years ago,
in a giant wheel in Japan

Friday, June 2, 2017

Helpful and respectful

The most to be accomplished from punishing or sending bored kids away is that the kids will learn not to go to that parent for advice and ideas.

Sometimes the real message behind "I'm bored" is "I'm little and feeling agitated and vaguely unhappy and I don't know what I can do to get over this uncomfortable feeling. What would you do if you were my age, in this house, on a day like this?"

I think that deserves a helpful, respectful response.
Lego art by Robbie and Robert Prieto (photo by Robert)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Peace and consideration

Megan Valnes wrote, at Always Learning:

Radical unschooling can bring about such a sense of peace with one's own self, that it can be poured into the being of another. I *enjoy* finding ways to make other people around me comfortable, including my children. I *want* the people who come to my home to enjoy their experience here. Sometimes, we have to bend a little for others, and isn't that empathy? To feel another's feeling and adjust your own reaction to fit their need? Keeping peace has become the number one priority in our home, so sometimes we have to get creative to make that happen! Consideration for others is key.
—Megan Valnes
photo by Megan Valnes