Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Don't be afraid

Some moms are more afraid of the candy than they are of scary ghosts and monsters.

Have a sweet life.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 30, 2017

The heart of unschooling

a mom named Tracey wrote:

"I am finding that it is when I can most fully let go of what 'should be' and most fully embrace 'what is' that I glimpse the joy and connection which is the heart of unschooling."

photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Photo credit—Cátia Maciel

Yesterday I didn't change the template and so accidentally swiped credit from Cátia Maciel. I'm really sorry! I've fixed it now; you can click the photo to see it with the proper credit.

photo by Cátia Maciel

I'm grateful to those who let me beg and borrow their photos of light and joy. Thank you all. At the blog, you can look for your favorite authors or photographers with the search box, upper left. Or use this link for today: (search "Maciel")

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Give them hope

Probably [doubters and critics] are sincerely concerned for your children, so try to be grateful for that, or at least to understand it.
. . . .

The nicest thing to say might be "Thanks, I'll think about it." If they say he might need some type of school, you could say yeah, someday he might. I liked to tell people that things were going well, but if that changed we would do something different. That gave them hope, and that was good for all of us. And it was true.

What Can I Say to Doubters and Critics?
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, October 27, 2017

Special times

Seasonal lighting, favorite food, special music and colorful clothing—you don't even need to wait for a holiday!


photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Unexpected results

You might think you know what water is going to do, but it can surprise you.

We can picture how our unschooling will go, but it will probably be bigger and better.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Slowly becoming wise

As children grow, parents age. Learning with them and from them and near them is learning we didn't expect.

Becoming a better parent is becoming a better person.

photo by Colleen Prieto

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tools and purposes

A YouTube video showed slime-play with a tennis racket. I didn't have one, but a potato masher worked, to create strings of slime.

"Bath toys" are sold in stores, but kitchens are full of things that are fun in bathtubs. Colanders, measuring cups, mixing bowls, slotted spoons to pick up bubbles (or blow them). Ice is great in the tub, and cheap, and cleans itself up.

Practice seeing other purposes and possibilites.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 23, 2017

What helps?

I think one thing that helps is having a house. A detached house.
. . . .

It's not a requirement, but it seems to help. Then kids have dirt to dig in. I know some apartments have dirt and some houses don't. But still. Dirt. Bugs. Plants.

There is more of that, and more about what else helps, in a chat transcript:
photo by Lydia Koltai

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Better Things

The fewer things you say or do to make things worse, the better things will be.

photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wellbeing, learning and balance

When I stopped seeing my daughter as adversarial it changed the world for us.
. . . .
We have developed a sweet and trusting bond where the focus is on wellbeing and learning and finding balance.
—Joanna Murphy, 2008

photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, October 20, 2017

Precious principles

Leah Rose wrote:

I had an amazing experience with [breathing] last night. At bedtime (which is about midnight in our family) I had just tucked in and said goodnight to our two youngest (8 and 11 yo boys) and was climbing into my own bed when I heard one of them calling me. My knee-jerk reaction was a blast of annoyance—very typical of me in that situation, exacerbated by the fact that I'd felt crummy all day and was really looking forward to collapsing into bed.

I huffed out an angry breath, started to head back to their room and suddenly had a thought from something I'd read here recently (or maybe on Sandra's website or the RU Network): "First, breathe and center yourself." So I took a deep breath, and as I inhaled I felt my whole being kind of slide into place—it was weird, almost a tangible sensation—and suddenly I felt completely peaceful. I walked into their room with a smile on my face and asked if either of them had called me. It was ds 11, he wanted me to set up his extra pillow (which was on the floor leaning against his bed) behind him so he could sit up and read for a bit.

Normally in this circumstance I'd have walked into the room annoyed and impatient and would have responded to this request by going on a rant about why he couldn't just reach down and pick it up himself, why he had to call me all the way back into his room for that, how tired and crummy I was feeling and there is no reason why I have to be the one to do it since he's perfectly capable himself! (You get the picture.)

Last night I just said, "Sure!" and set his pillows up behind him and gave them both another kiss goodnight and then went to bed feeling exhausted but very peaceful—and very thankful for my networks of unschoolers, from whom I'm learning the precious principle of abundance.

—Leah Rose

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Things by my back door one day, looking like a set. Inside the glass is an old end table with fancy legs. There's a plastic planter, and a metal watering can, all stripey. The colors were nice, too.

No one arranged them, they just were there.

Be open to seeing something others aren't seeing—in your children, your surroundings, and your life.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Calmly and happily

Deb Lewis wrote:

If you take care of your house happily, even if you don't ever make any real progress or feel it's getting really clean, if you look after things calmly and happily your kids will be more likely to participate in the process. If you're grumping around growling about things being out of control, how are they ever supposed to feel they could manage it? If you can't handle it, how could they?
—Deb Lewis

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mysteries and clues

Mysteries and clues can be nice, on a day when it's okay to decide which way to go on a whim or a coin toss. Even when "random" isn't on the schedule, be open to unexpected new directions.

photo by Cathy Koetsier

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trust can grow

"There are many things one can trust as one begins unschooling. Draw on what you know about your child, your partner and yourself to nurture confidence. Trust in unschooling will deepen and grow as one gains understanding and experience. Oh! Which reminds me! I trusted that others who had unschooled their children successfully before me knew some things (a lot of things, it turned out) that could help me. That trust grew as I tried some of the things people suggested and they proved to be very useful."
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Discovering ways to help

I do love words. I love their history. I love their sounds, and their power. I love the way they can reveal fears and other emotions, and prejudices and confusions. It's not that I like to see those things revealed, but when people are looking for clarity and we're trying to help them, it's good to see where they're limping or hurting, as it were.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A little more

A little more time.
A little more patience.
A little more joy.
A little more calm.

photo by Janine Davies

Friday, October 13, 2017

What big eyes you have!

Since I was little, I have loved the line, "Grandma, what big eyes you have," from Red Riding Hood. It's a good line.

What can you see if you look far away or close up, or with your eyes closed, "with your mind's eye"?

The New Mexico State Museum of Natural History has microscopes. I took a bug there. If you click that, I think you can get an image you can zoom in on to see his eyes, his toes, his wings. How can you see that? Other people helped you see.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More than they seem

All the entertainment, office tools, art, music, trivia and humor that used to take people two or three rooms to store can be accessed with a tablet computer now, or a smart phone, or a laptop. They are lit-up windows to people, places, languages, recipes and sites to order the ingredients and cookware.

You can make photos and video, sound recordings, send art, letters, old photos, to family, friends and strangers. The Jetsons' video phone wasn't nearly as good as Skype is.

Be grateful for your wifi and the sweet things you can find and share.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Alive and breathing

There is a depth of understanding, and a practice of many years, that make unschooling work well. Joining a group, or subscribing to a magazine, or going to a conference (or a dozen conferences) isn't what it's about. Unschooling lives (is alive; breathes; functions) where the learning is happening. The learning is supported and fed by the relationships between the parents and chidren.

photo by Karen James

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Again, again!

“No-one is ever likely to read my whole website and I don’t ever need them to. It’s not written to be read from one end to the other any more than a pharmacy is intended for someone to start at one end and eat, drink or inject every substance in the whole room. If you find a page that does help you, guess what? It will help even more if you read it again after a year or two. And if you read it after you’ve been unschooling for five years it will seem that the first time it was a black and white postcard and now it’s a technicolor movie. Because you’ll understand it better and you’ll see the subtlety and the artistry of what people wrote and maybe you’ll wish you’d been able to understand it better sooner.” ~ Sandra Dodd

Changes in Parents (episode of Pam Laricchia's interview podcast)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 9, 2017

Energy and joy

I have noticed how much energy unschooling parents are willing to put into their kid's joy.
—Robyn Coburn

photo by Megan Valnes

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Interesting, wet and chilly

From Deb Lewis's list of things to do in winter:

I have found so many interesting things to do around our little town just by talking with people and asking questions. I ask everyone questions about what they like to do, etc. I have met so many people with interesting hobbies who have been happy to share what they know with my son and show him their collections.
. . . .
Cool things are everywhere, summer and winter. David and Dylan went to the tennis court on Sunday and tried to play with snow balls. There's no snow now so what ever we do this weekend will be wet and chilly, but we'll find something.
—Deb Lewis

photo by Heather Booth

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Electric guitars, or Egypt

What aspect of some particular subject involves objective truth? What is folklore or mythology? What literature or fantasy has come about based on that subject or item? Consider dragons, or India, or snakes, or rainbows. Checklist Abe Lincoln, the discovery of fire, or the depths of Lake Superior. Plot WWII, Japan, electric guitars, or Egypt.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in a pawn shop

Friday, October 6, 2017


Sometimes, be still.

Don't be still all the time—kids and life are busy, busy, busy! Notice moments of stillness, and breathe there.

Music without any quiet parts can turn into too much noise.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Beauty and softness

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

It's such a big part of our culture to get it done now, fix it all now, make it happen now, do, do, do, do. Sometimes what life really requires is calm and patience. A very valuable thing to learn in life is to how to take care of ourselves and others during times of stress and times that aren't ideal and wonderful.

I think that's part of "stopping and smelling the roses." If you don't take that time, you miss some pretty wonderful bits of life. When there is stress and other negative influences happening around us, it's even MORE important to take that time to seek out the beauty and the softness and the sweet and light and happy things.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Not what was expected

Life is like this:

Some things that used to be easy become more difficult.

Some things that used to be difficult become easy.

Things we thought would be around forever are gone.

Things we never could have imagined would exist are here.

chalk lettering and photo by Sandra Dodd
(There's my first cellphone, for scale—I liked that little flip phone.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Easier, more manageable

Deb Lewis wrote:

The more you're aware of how good things are when they are good, the easier it will be to wade through the times when things are less good. If you're aware of how lucky you are, everyday problems by comparison can seem smaller, and more manageable."
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, October 2, 2017

Geek intelligence

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has a category that explains serious hobbyists, gamers, and comic-book collectors:

Naturalist intelligence involves recognizing and categorizing things. Birds and clouds, certainly. Trees. But it also applies to flags, heraldry, automobiles, computer components... the talent for recognizing a widget or a seed seems to be the same.

If your child knows all the Pokémon and their stages, a hundred Minecraft tricks, or the history and evolution of My Little Pony, this is a strong ability to discern the nature of things—to identify and analyze. Each child will have other intelligences, too, and those blend together to help him or her learn easily and to make fun connections.

(The middle paragraph is on that page, the rest I added here just today!)
Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions
photo by Andrea Quenneville

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Life changes

Impermanence is irritating, but can also be a relief.

A few centuries ago, people believed strongly in the wheel of fortune—that circumstances would change, and did change, and that nothing good or bad would last forever.

You can't keep air, or save rain. Clouds are wet and wispy.

The weather of the soul
photo by Sandra Dodd