Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guidance means...

Robyn Coburn wrote:

Every time you feel the urge to control a choice, you can ask yourself "why?" and begin to question the assumptions (or fears) about children, parenting, learning and living joyfully that you are holding on to.

Intentions matter. Guidance offered from the place of partnership and Trust has a different feeling, avoids rebellion, and is just plain less focused on the trivial. Guidance means optional acceptance instead of mandatory compliance. Guidance means parents being safety nets, not trap doors or examiners. Guidance facilitates mindfulness. Directives shut it down, and may even foster resentment instead.
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Many small choices

If the mom can practice and appreciate making many small choices, she can more calmly accept changes and experimentation and what might seem inconstant or random in the child’s choices. He might want to try things. He might not be in an adventurous season and might want the same thing every day for a year. But he will be learning, if he’s allowed to feel his own body’s responses without someone telling him what he is feeling or should be feeling.
photo by Kirsten Cordero

Monday, February 26, 2018

Living lightly

Living lightly is part of the joy of unschooling.

Airy and bright
photo by Kirby Dodd

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Be positively Positive!

Negativity is contagious and cancels out joy and hope. Some people are just casually negative without realizing it. Their first response to anything is likely to be derisive. It's like a disease, and they infect their friends and relatives. Eye rolling, tongue-clucking, dramatic sighs... It's emotional littering. Save them for emergencies.

Seeing and Avoiding Negativity
photo by Shonna Morgan

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Their own new eyes

Let your children make discoveries with their own new eyes. Don't show-and-tell them into a helpless stupor. Be with them, pay attention to what they're seeing for the first time and be poised to explain if they ask, or point out something interesting if they miss it, but try to learn to be patient and open to their first observations and thoughts. Like bubbles, or dandelion puffs, they are beautiful and fragile and if you even blow on it too hard, it will never be there again.

Practice being. Practice waiting. Practice watching.

Let them experience the world with you nearby keeping them safe and supported.

from page 124 (or 136), "Experiences," in The Big Book of Unschooling
which leads to
photo by Chrissy Florence

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What a child needs

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

It's the essence of every story: The protagonist has a need. He finds ways around what stands between him and what he needs.

Rather than being an obstacle, be his partner in meeting his needs. Be the one keeping an eye on the needs of those around him as you find respectful, safe, doable ways for him to meet his needs. Be the one manipulating the environment so he's not in a situation he can't handle yet.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Ashlee Dodd, of Marty and Ivan

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A warm moment

There are many things we can't control, and very few we can.

Your children think thoughts that you can't know. They might seem to be only sitting, only waiting, only basking in the sun, or zoned out, but they are living their lives, even if it's hard for you to see it.

Appreciate warm, quiet moments.
photo by Joyce Fetteroll, in New Mexico
She wrote, "Lizard chilling. Or warming. As lizards tend to do."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

More happy childhood

There are things I would love to go back and redo, but though I'm not completely satisfied, I'm not ashamed either. When I said "okay" to Kirby I was saying okay to the little Sandra inside me who might otherwise have built up some jealous resentment about this new kid getting to do things I never got to do. It was healing to imagine that if my mom had been fortunate enough to have other influences and better circumstances maybe she would have said yes to me more often too.

... By sharing my children's lives, there has been more happy childhood in my own life.
photo by Sandra Dodd

This is a repeat from February 2012, because midnight arrived and for me and Cinderella, that's a serious deadline.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Myths and alarm clocks

A myth and boogie-man:

"If children are allowed sleep as late as they want, they'll never be able to get up and go to work."

I have three children (at this writing 16, 19 and 21), all of whom have had jobs, none of whom has failed to learn to use an alarm clock and good judgment, none of whom has ever been let go from a job, all of whom have been free to sleep or get up for 16 years or more (depending). If there were no other refutation of the myth above than this, it would be sufficient.

It's also worth noting that none of those jobs have been "regular hours." Shifts have started as early as 6:30 a.m. and ended as late as 3:00 a.m. Good thing they were well prepared by years of irregular sleep!
That was written ten years ago, so my "children" this month are are 26, 28 and 31.
They have had even MORE jobs with odd hours, and sometimes "normal" hours.
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Turning down sweets

"I have many, many tales of my four unschooled kids turning down sweets or having a cookie in one hand and an apple in the other..."
—Emily Strength
Read two of those stories here:
and accounts by other parents, too.
photo by Margie Rapp

Friday, February 16, 2018


Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

A computer, a hand held game, an iPod are doors that lead to a vast world of experiences. Just as your front door leads to a vast world of many different things you can do. Would you refer to all the things your family does by going through your front door—walks, shopping, visiting friends. mowing the lawn, vacations—as "door stuff"?

Stop looking at the door. See the richness that exists beyond the door.

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd
"Screendoors" is a joke. Take it lightly.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What do you hope for?

Deb Lewis wrote:

A principle internally motivates you to do the things that seem good and right. People develop principles by living with people with principles and seeing the real benefits of such a life.

A rule externally compels you, through force, threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed good or right.

People follow or break rules.

Which is the hope most parents have for their kids? Do they hope their kids will comply with and follow rules, or do they hope their kids will live their lives making choices that are good and right?
—Deb Lewis
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Really look

Colleen Prieto wrote:

Look at your kids. Really look at them and see who *they* are and not who you want them to be. Get to know them. Be nice to them. Nicer than nice. Be kind to them. Love them and kiss them and hug them and Be with them. Play with them. Listen to them. Talk with them, not to them. Be patient and calm.

Love your spouse or partner, if you have one. Be kind and nice and patient with your spouse or partner too. Love them and hug them and see who they really are without trying to make them who you want them to be.
—Colleen Prieto

Practice watching
photo by Chrissy Florence

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tone matters

When you say something to your child, remember to feel it and believe it, or you'll be sending mixed messages, and the tone might be louder than the words. And with babies and toddlers, the tone might be the entirety of the communication.

The quote is from page 208 (or 241) of The Big Book of Unschooling,
which references this webpage:
Tone of Voice and Joy.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Amsterdam

Monday, February 12, 2018

A light on your path

"Notice what excites & inspires you, because your excitement is a light in the right direction on your path of life."
—Holly Dodd

photo by Sandra, of shields at Marty Dodd's house

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Incremental change

Change takes time. Don't send the bill. Don't "be nice" for two months and then say "I was nice and you weren't any nicer to me!" Be nice because being nice is better than not being nice. Do it for yourself and your children.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Trust; it's true

Caren Knox wrote:

Trust is a vital foundation to building an unschooling home. If kids can't trust that what their parents are saying is true, their foundation is shaky, perilous. That affects their ability to learn, and harms the relationship they have with the world (and their parents).

Why bring a negative force into the home?

If you're used to sarcasm and other lying, it might take practice to learn to speak honestly. It can feel vulnerable and risky. It is worth it. You'll soon be able to feel if what you are about to say is true — really true — and you'll develop the ability to stop, breathe, and change what you're saying if needed.
—Caren Knox

Deposit the good stuff.
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Friday, February 9, 2018

A kinder person

Learning to live better with children makes one a better person. Being patient with a child creates more patience. Being kind to a child makes one a kinder person.

Simply put...
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Where the magic is

"It's easy to see problems. It's easy to get down and be cranky. Anyone can do that. But to find the laughter, the beauty, the pathway to connection and possibilities—that's where the magic is. It requires you to look at things from different angles."
—Cass Kotrba
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sufficient, efficient

See if you have a dial in your mind that says "everything" at one extreme and "nothing" at the other. It's impossible for anyone to do everything or nothing. Maybe label it "too much" and "not enough" instead, and try for the midpoint. Replace any on/off switches in your mind with slide bars or dimmers!
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Icons and patterns

Design and symbolism will be a bigger deal than usual for a while, thanks to the Winter Olympics. There will be sportswear design, hairstyles, colors, flags, anthems, medals.

Look around at what is normal for you, and at what represents your own town, county, country, continent. See what is exotic, when you're away from home—things those distant locals don't notice, and don't know are not universal. To appreciate the beauty in your everyday world, it can help to see it through someone else's eyes.
photo by Holly Dodd, of the mountains, sunshine and flags
we see every day in Albuquerque

Monday, February 5, 2018


Don't miss too many moments of your life. They go by.

A bad moment can be followed by a new, improved, better moment.
photo by Karen James

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The value of optimism

"Choose to look at the beauty around you and to see life and people through loving eyes."
—Alex Polikowsky
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Free to play

Sylvia Woodman said:

"I love the flexibility. The ability that we could travel whenever we want. Like we’re not tied to the school system. I love the fact that I can play. That I am free to play just as much as my kids are free to play. I like to do a lot of cooking. I like to experiment with a lot of recipes. We like to invite a lot of people over. We can have parties. We can play games. We don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. We’re free to not only do what’s right for us but what makes us happy. And I feel like by unschooling that provides a really nice framework for that to happen."
—Sylvia Woodman,
Sylvia Woodman, interviewed by Pam Laricchia
photo by Megan Valnes, in Italy

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mysterious used-to-be

Not all history is in books or in words.

You will see things in the world that don't come with explanations.

There is beauty in the mysterious used-to-be.
Things and places
photo by Ester Siroky, in Portugal

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Big moon

People read this at different times and places on five or six continents. We can all see the same moon, though!

Things are different in every family, but we can still move toward the same principles, and peace, and light.

Light on light
photo by Jo Isaac, Victoria, Austraila