Monday, December 31, 2018

Different window, different view

Different window, different view.

Don't forget to look.
Quietly, just look
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Though it cannot be guaranteed, one unexpected benefit of unschooling and of parenting peacefully seems to be that children get along better with siblings.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Doing well, and doing good

Deb Lewis wrote this. Who is she talking about?

They work together, plan and organize. It might inspire thoughts about the usefulness of cooperation.

They handle tough situations with humor. That might inspire someone to think about the value of a happy and positive attitude.

They help people who need help.
The people who need help ask for it.
These are good things.
—Deb Lewis
photo by Holly Dodd—"Three Round Things"

Friday, December 28, 2018

Words where they live

What writing needs is a large range of things that begin and expand outside of and away from "paper" or writing of any sort. A familiarity with the range of the language, of voice and tone (without knowing those words, it's easy), of funny words, scary words, plain and fancy words. That comes from listening to comedy, watching award-winning films, and YouTube videos, reading (or hearing someone read) comics, artsy menus, advertisements, legal notices, warning signs, brass plaques on government buildings. Tweets. Posts on yahoogroups or facebook. Post cards. Business letters and birthday cards.
photo by Sandra Dodd (for this post, of things I could see and reach without getting up)

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Writing is thinking clearly. For unschoolers writing will be helped by a kid having the confidence that if someone asks him about a movie or the lyrics of a song, that person will listen to his report, and to his opinion, and if he's misheard the words or misunderstood the plot, that they will help him understand it.

a nice match for Untangling Ideas, but the quote is from Seeing Writing
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sparkly and joyful

Choices in an environment maintained with learning in mind are different from choices in a quiet, boring place. If I were a kid, my choice in a quiet, boring place would be to go to school.

Make your unschooling sparkly and joyful. (righthand box halfway down)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Joy and service

When you do things, look for the joy and service in them, and your life will be softer and more meaningful.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of ice as a bathtub toy


Monday, December 24, 2018

Make it plentiful

Once someone tried allowing her children to choose their own foods, and after a month she was ready to give up. Part of my response is below.

It's only been a month. It might take more than that for them to get as much candy as they feel they've missed in five or seven years. You scarcified it and made it valuable. Let them gorge. They'll get over it. If you don't let them have it now, they will continue to crave it, sneak it, and pack it in. Make it plentiful, and that will make it less desireable.

Please read all of "Economics of Restricting TV Watching of Children" by Pam Sorooshian. It will apply to food too.
photo by Sandra Dodd, at someone else's house

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Calm, sweet joy

May your calm expectations
and your sweet surprises
bring you much joy.
wreath and photo by Janine Davies,
words by Sandra Dodd, written for a Christmas card


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Meditation for moms

When a question about meditation came up, years back, Caren Knox shared:

I've done it different ways, at different times of my life. Mostly, as described - sitting, focusing on the breath, noticing thoughts, not getting carried away by them. And if I get carried away, when I "return", calmly return my focus to the breath, without letting thoughts of "Oh, no! I got carried away!" carry me away again. ...

When the boys were younger, I'd sit when I could, but I noticed that thoughts of "needing" to meditate were pulling me away from the moment *with them*. So I'd get centered in that moment, breathing (three deep breaths is magical), noticing sounds, smells, where my body was. Momentary, but being able to be in the moment changed & flavored the next moment, and shifted it toward peace.
—Caren Knox or
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, December 21, 2018

One peaceful choice

Lisa J Haugen wrote:

I make one peaceful choice, one bonding, relationship-building choice. Just one little choice.

Then it's easier to make the next one, and the next one, and sometimes there's wobble, but rebuilding peace and self esteem one choice, one moment at a time, is doable! When you do that you can get to really sweet, joyful, soul-warming places.
—Lisa J Haugen
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Observation and curiosity

If you look closely, and are curious, learning happens.

New input + questions = new hooks to hang other information on.

Look at the image on the building. It's a parachute, with a zia. Why? Come and see how a collection can branch off and curl back, touching on unexpected people, places, times and ideas.

Zias and Pickups (on facebook)

Those without facebook access might want to
play around with one of these collections of connections:
photo by Brie Jontry; click it for a larger image

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Another starting place

Don't do what you don't understand.

Q: Any gentle methods of a peaceful bedtime after not having one for a while?

A: I think being honest and saying, "This isn't working. I took some bad advice. Your dad REALLY needs to sleep quietly, and I do too, so let's come up with a better plan..." would be the starting place.
—Sandra Dodd
photo by Lisa J Haugen

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

When is writing "real"?

Somewhere between writing nothing and being a wealthy professional author, many people write in the middle ground, and others' lives are changed.

Other Voices
The quote is from
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Radical," dude!

"Radical" means from the roots—radiating from the source. The knowledge that learning is natural to humans can radiate forth from that point in every direction.

So the history of "radical unschooling" came from someone saying "Well we're not that radical," and me saying "well I am."
. . .
From the roots to the tips
from the roots of hair to the tips
or the roots of a tree to the end of each leaf
or from the roots of a belief to the end of each action.

Why Radical Unschooling?
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Tactful tactics

Tact is not a rule.

Tact is making a strategic, thoughtful decision after considering as many factors as the person has access to. Tactful. Tactics.

Tact is not about rules. Tact is about not burning bridges, not losing friends, not screwing things up. Tact is about being a good member of a social team. Tact is what helps a person maneuver a difficult situation and be praised and thanked later. Tact is what can get someone invited back over again. Tact is a WONDERFUL thing to have. It is one of the best things anyone could have.
photo by Karen James

Friday, December 14, 2018

What if a parent is afraid?

Part of my response to a request for advice to fearful parents:

Turn away from the school and look directly at your children. Look at them as individuals, rather than as students, or third graders or eight-year-olds. Look at their potential, their interests, their sweetness, and find ways to preserve and nurture those.
. . .

Don't do school. Do life as though school didn't exist. Live to learn; learn to live. If after really trying it as hard and as honestly and fully as you can for an extended period of time you can't get it to work, then you can always go back to a curriculum.

School has already taken twelve or more years of your freedom and individuality. You don't have to let it take your adult life as well. You don't have to let it have your child.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, December 13, 2018

As well as you can

Unschool as well as you can, and lots of the side questions disappear. But part of unschooling well is keeping a fairly peaceful environment.

Making choices about being more peaceful is like making other choices.

Make the better choice.
photo by Kristy Hinds
(inside one of the cliff dwellings at Bandelier)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Like night and day

A rule that noise is okay at a park isn't as good as looking at the principles. Even in a park, time and place can be factors.

We met in a park with other families for years. Morning before lunch. LOTS of noise, sometimes staying longer, eating running, singing, rough-with-sand (if there weren't younger kids or kids who weren't with our group).

Keith and I also took our kids to parks after dark a few times, and swung them on swings to calm them down, and to have some fun in a cooler, quieter place after some big activity or other, or just for the fun of cold slides instead of the hot slides Albuquerque kids are used to. But we were helping them be quiet, snd screaming wouldn't have been good, in a residential neighborhood after dark. Yes, legally the park is open until 10:00 p.m. but "legal" isn't the only consideration.

Text (rearranged a bit) from
photo by Kirby Dodd

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Courtesy and common sense

Don't bring your hot dog to the vegan friend's house. Don't bring stinky food to places where others can't get away. Don't bring great-smelling food to a hospital room where someone is on a restricted diet, or on an IV with no food allowed.
. . . .

"It depends" is a good first answer when someone asks whether something is or is not okay. There is no "rule" that says unschoolers can eat anything they want any time. But there should not be arbitrary restrictions, just really logical, sensible ones involving courtesy and common sense.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 10, 2018

Fun, intriguing, challenging

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Stop thinking in terms of the skills they need. Start thinking in terms of fun, intriguing, challenging things they might like to do that just happen to use those skills. The skills are *tools*. They aren't the end product themselves. Unfortunately that's the way schools teach so it's hard to break out of that way of thinking. Math is useless unless you want the answer it can get for you. Writing is useless unless you have something to say and a need to do it through writing.
—Joyce Fetteroll

When Does Independence Arrive?
photo by Karen James

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Welcome connections

Once you start looking for connections and welcoming them, it creates a kind of flow that builds and grows.

Once you start looking for connections...
photo by Jo Isaac

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Living proof

"We don't have to be tested to find out what we've learned. The learning will be demonstrated as we use new skills and talk knowledgeably about a topic."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, December 7, 2018

Have your cake and clean up too

"Is the goal to have a clean kitchen or the experience of making a cake? If the goal is a clean kitchen, then it's better not to have children! 🙂

"Ah, but why can't the goal be both a clean kitchen and a cake?"

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo (a link) by Jen Lynch

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Abundant peace

"Fill your house with peace, toys, interesting things, good food, and love. Create abundance, not scarcity, even if you have very little in terms of monetary resources. Love and peace and happiness don’t cost a thing."
—Colleen Prieto

from Colleen's list at the bottom of "Doing Unschooling Right"
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Surprisingly bigger

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 Marta Venturini Machado

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Choose the good things

No parent has to do anything. They choose to do things.
. . . .
Through all the innumerable factors, how DO people decide?

By deciding what principles they are following. Each principle one clings to eliminates about half the choices in the world easily, and in a good way. Each additional principle eliminates some more options, until the world becomes manageable.

One of my guiding principles is that I want my children's worlds to be sparkly.

There goes the dull and the darkness. Easily not chosen, not an option., 2004
photo by Irene Adams

Monday, December 3, 2018

Practice acceptance

Practice being accepting of whatever cool things come along, and providing more opportunities for coolness to unfold.
Two things, two words
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Savor the present

Taste your food, or holiday sweets, and feel the familiarity that you might miss someday.
clickable photo by Sandra Dodd
(well all photos are clickable, but this one leads somewhere)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Framing the sun

No one else sees the world just as you do.
photo by Olivia Turner

Friday, November 30, 2018

A drop of water

Karen James took this photo, and wrote of it, "A forest in a drop of water."

It reminded me of this, from "Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers":

Universe-in-a-Drop-of-Water Method: Can one intense interest come to represent or lead to all others? A mom once complained that her son was interested in nothing but World War II. There are college professors and historians who are interested in nothing but World War II. It can become a life's work. But even a passing interest can touch just about everything—geography, politics, the history and current events of Europe and parts of the Pacific, social history of the 20th century in the United States, military technology, tactics, recruitment and propaganda, poster art/production/distribution, advances in communications, transport of troops and food and supplies, espionage, prejudices, internment camps, segregation, patriotism, music, uniforms, insignia, religion....
Karen took a photo of a forest and of unschooling in a drop of water.
photo by Karen James

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wrapped in thought

"Self control" is all tied up with being bad, and with failure. Choices, though, are wrapped in thought, power and freedom!
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Simple wisdom

One zen student said, "My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating."

The second said, "My teacher has so much self control, he can go days without sleep."

The third said, "My teacher is so wise that he eats when he's hungry and sleeps when he's tired."

My kids did that!
The quote came to me from Bela Harrington.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thoughts can flow

The clearer your mind is of trauma and fear, the more easily your thoughts can flow, and connections can be made.

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 Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sky show

Free show! Look up.

Trees change, clouds change, you might see stars, or the moon. Birds or flying machines might make special appearances.

Feel the air on your face. Breathe in peace. Summon up your gratitude.

From his perspective, a younger, smaller person might look up and see you, in the sky show.

Same sky, another view
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Move to life.

Don't rush. This is a hard but crucial piece of advice. Rush to take him out of school but don't rush to replace it with anything. Bring your child home, don't bring school home. You don't even have to bring their terminology and judgments home. You can start from scratch, brush off the labels, and find your son where he is. Forget school. Move to life.
—Sandra Dodd
March 2000
newspaper interview

Unschool Quote-arama
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sun, or moon, or fire

Sometimes light is from an Aha!! lightbulb moment.
Sometimes light is more information, or seeing from a new angle, "in a new light."
Sometimes light is from the sun, or the moon, or a fire.
Sometimes light comes from just lightening up. (Not "lightning up," or "lighting up," so spelling will make a big difference, in those lights.)

Live lightly.
photo by Kes Morgan-Davies

Friday, November 23, 2018

There is no "have to"

It is such a relief to know that there is no requirement here. You can just be yourself and follow what interests you. There is no “have to” hanging over your head...
—Maria Randolph
Deschooling with Maria Randolph, at
photo by Robin Bentley

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Comforted, entertained, loved

Too many parents talk and talk to their kids, and ask them how they feel and ask them what they need.

Learn to guess. Learn to provide in advance. Food is good to practice with. Soft, clean cleared-off beds are good to practice with. Clearing off space for video gaming is nice. Soon you start to think about heat, softness, clean clothes, toothpaste before it runs out, favorite foods when you shop. And then people feel heard and comforted and entertained and loved.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thoughtful generosity

If someone gives you a blanket when you need a blanket, just because they know you need one and think you might like to have one, it's better than a hand-quilted show-piece given to someone who had blankets.
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Leaning toward balance

On finding balance:
Lean by thoughts and decisions.
Lean toward what you understand, and what makes sense.

Too far? Lean back.
Just right? Do more with your children, while you're in that state.
photo by Sandra Dodd; Castle of the Moors, in Portugal

Monday, November 19, 2018

Walk where you are

What is peaceful for one might be spooky for another. Be a comfort to your child and to others on the path with you.

If no one knows what is around that bend, approaching it calmly and confidently is better than pre-emptive dread and fear. Don't be surprised to find an easy, joyful time.

Being where you are now might be the best preparation for being where you will be later.
photo by Heather Booth

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Pay attention to your child and help him do/find/see/experience things that will interest him. Help him be his best self as often as you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Art Supplies

Deschooling usually involves seeing everything in a new light, or re-naming things we see all the time. If someone thinks of "art" as a school course or in "an art room," breathe that away; shake that off.

If you think of "real art" as oil paintings and marble sculpture, expand your definition.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tweak it.

See how it's going at your house.

Tweak it.

Move toward a good relationship, move toward being more present, and then you start to understand.

Extras with Sandra Dodd (at 2:45 on the countdown)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Looking, reading and logic

To say peace doesn't need quiet doesn't mean that all noise is peace. Quite a bit of understanding unschooling is looking at all your thoughts, and the things you read, with as much logic as you can gather up.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Step in, play around

Don't let unschooling disturb the peace.

Unschooling can bring more peace, but step in gradually, and play around in it before you go into the deep waters.

For new unschoolers:

Not so new? Here:

photo by Doug James

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Real relationships

There are multiple facets that make unschooling work best. The two biggest facets that go hand in hand for me are the absence of school and school think, combined with real working relationships with my kids. People can go and do one or the other and not let them overflow into each other, but it won't be as bright and sparkly.

Relationships and wholeness
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, November 12, 2018

Happily and successfully

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Unschooling happily and successfully requires clear thinking.
. . . .
Unschooling well requires understanding the underlying philosophy of how children learn, and the principles that guide us in our everyday lives arise from that philosophy. It isn't some new kind of parenting technique that can be observed and applied without understanding.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Better, happier, more peaceful

"Are there ways of living with people that can make life better, happier, more peaceful? Are there ways of living that can make life worse? Doesn't it make sense to choose to live together in a way that will make life better?"
—Deb Lewis
photo by Amber Ivey