Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rocks and shells and...

Robert Prieto wrote:

"If strewing seems manipulative, think of Mother Nature. Nature has strewn a whole world out there, full of trees and people and birds and animals and rocks and shells and plants and bugs… We each get particular pieces of what she has to offer, based on where we live and how we live (urban/rural, traveler/homebody, etc.)—and those pieces are sitting right there for everyone to pick through, explore, enjoy, and learn from.

"That is all strewing needs to be. Here's the world, kids—and here's a few things from that world that I think you in particular might like, or a few things that relate to you in some way. Have at it."
—Robert Prieto

photo by Karen James

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ought to "have to"

The phrases "ought to" and "supposed to" are so old, and have been recited for so many years (hundreds of years) without conscious thought that people don't even think about what they literally mean. "Supposed to" is kind of easy; you can deconstruct it, and it loses a lot of power. "Ought" is related to owing and debt. Obligation. No choice except dishonor.

"We're supposed to..."

"We ought to..."

"We have to..."

Use those with care, and thought.


photo by Ester Siroky

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Something very special

Sylvia Woodman wrote:

"One of my favorite things of all times is watching my children concentrating. I see it when Gabriella draws. I see it when Harry games or practices Taekwondo. The kids have friends over this week and I've spent more than a little time hanging out in the room with them watching them focus on their games—both together and apart. I feel like I'm in the presence of something very special, almost holy."
photo also by Sylvia Woodman, 2013; text 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Things change

Being a child's partner rather than his adversary makes the balance of knowledge unimportant. Nowadays my children drive me around, help me out, read small print and get things off high shelves. For many years, I did those things for them.



Learning first, and partnership and being present close after, and all the other things flow in around it.

Part of a longer response to an odd question: The other things flow in around it.
See also "Snapshot" on this blog
photo by Karen James

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fascinating and charming

My kids don't mind following rules when they join clubs or attend meetings in places with rules. The gaming store where they play (and where Kirby came to work after a while) has a language rule. They can say "crap" but nothing else of its sort or worse. There's a 25-cent fine. If they don't have a quarter they do pushups. But because of that rule, families go there that wouldn't go if it had the atmosphere of a sleazy bowling alley. (It has the atmosphere of a geeky gaming store.)

I think one reason they don't mind following rules is that they haven't already "had it up to here" with rules, as kids have who have a whole life of home rules and school rules. They find rules kind of fascinating and charming, honestly. When Holly's had a dress code for a dance class or acting class she is THRILLED.

Maybe also because they haven't been forced to take classes or go to gaming shops (?!?) they know they're there voluntarily and part of the contract is that they abide by the rules. No problem.
Seeking joy
photo by Sandra Dodd, July 2005
and the writing is older than that

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Play. Joke. Sing.

I was once asked:
Since unschooling is a lifestyle, how can a family wanting to embrace these ideals begin the process? What encouragement would you offer?

Part of my 1998 response:
Play. Joke. Sing. Instead of turning inward and looking for the answer within the family, within the self, turn it all inside out. Get out of the house. Go somewhere you've never been, even a city park you're unfamiliar with, or a construction site, or a different grocery store. Try just being calm and happy together. For some families, that's simple. For others it's a frightening thought.

Try not to learn. Don't try to learn. Those two aren't the same thing but they're close enough for beginners. If you see something *educational* don't say a word. Practice letting exciting opportunities go by, or at least letting the kids get the first word about something interesting you're all seeing.

The "Try not to learn" idea inspired Learn Nothing Day ten years afterwards (and ten years ago, now).

photo by Holly Dodd

in French

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Comfortably and happily

Just like ALL learning, learning how to live comfortably and happily are really wonderful things. It takes a focus on turning away from what you know you don't like and turning towards something else—that something else that creates happy learning and living. Unschooling really is a shift in thinking and then acting on it.
—Jenny Cyphers

photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, July 23, 2018

Look and see

If you're traveling or if you're in a familiar place, the things you see are viewed though your own windows, or doors. You see through your own eyes, and experience. *You* see.

The world you see where you are today will not be what you could see ten years ago, or twenty.

What your child sees and what you see will probably be different, and continue to change.

Keep looking.

photo by Ester Siroky

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Safe, respectful and empowering

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling is the opposite of both authoritarian and hands-off parenting. It's neither about creating rules to remote parent nor about letting kids jump off cliffs. It's about being more involved in kids lives. It's about accompanying them as they explore, helping them find safe, respectful and empowering ways to tackle what intrigues them.
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Full, curious, free life

So what is unschooling? It's learning by living life. It's living a full, curious, free life with parents who support, encourage and help their kids pursue what interests them (while making opportunities available to expand their interests).

Unschooled children learn as a side effect of doing.
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Diana Jenner

Friday, July 20, 2018

See everything

When parents see how and what their children are actually learning instead of just scanning for the half dozen school-things, unschooling will make sense to the parents. If you wait for school to congeal from a busy life, you'll keep being disappointed. If you learn to see everything instead of just school things, unschooling will start working for you. When you see it you will believe it.
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Learning is learning

Learning is learning whether or not it's planned or recorded or officially on the menu. Calories are calories whether or not the eating is planned or recorded or officially on the menu.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Robin Bentley, of exotic German... (not French fries, but something)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Learning effortlessly

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

School is to unschooling as foreign language class is to learning to talk. The first is orderly, thorough, hard and hardly works. The second is chaotic, random, effortless and works like a charm."
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

To begin with...

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Enough to share

Energy is shared, and that's how unschooling works. Whether I'm excited about something new, or my children are excited about something new, there's still newness and excitement enough to share.

photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Important little things

"Listen and watch when they want to show you something. It might seem like a little thing to watch what your child wants to show you, but it’s important to them and it matters to them! The little things are the big things!"
—Laurie Wolfrum

Trust can grow
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Descriptive and unlimited

I think that an unschooler's checklist should look more like the five senses and past/future than like "science, history, language, math, maybe-music-art-physical education."   Because that model is prescriptive and limiting.  And the other is descriptive and unlimited.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 13, 2018

Finding yourself with your children

Being where you are, in a mindful way, with the potential and the tools to be still and know it, is the portal to a better life. Call it what you want to, finding yourself with your children will put you in a good place.


photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Into her world

Karen James wrote:

Helping facilitate a good experience is different for each person. It depends on what they are interested in and why. It depends on how they want to explore whatever it is.

Bring some of her interests into her world, not by suggestion, but by learning enough about her interests to be able to converse about whatever-it-is. Maybe even try it yourself. Find places or folks to visit where those interests are practiced, where she might have a dabble too. Maybe she'll want to dive deeper. Maybe not.
—Karen James
Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary
photo by Amber Ivey

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Familiar and unfamiliar

If everything is unfamiliar, it's hard to think about what it is at all. If everything is too familiar, it can escape notice and conscious thought.

Learning happens best at the edge, where something familiar has a difference. Something is not the same, in an otherwise understandable scene.

photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, July 9, 2018

What and Why?

The when is now, the who is you,
the where is where you are.

The remaining questions are
what are you doing, and why?

If you don't know what you're doing, it might be good to relax and reconsider. Start fresh, and with purpose.

If you don't know why you're doing what you're doing, that could be reason enough to take a break.

photo by Lisa J Haugen

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Side benefits

My world's pretty cool. It has become gradually cooler since I had kids and have tried to figure out how to make THEIR worlds cooler. Mine got the side benefit of what I learned about how to help keep them happy.

Shared fun
photo by Sarah S.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Count slower

Someone said one time that she counts to ten and then she's still mad so what should she do, and a couple of people said "Count slower."

Angrily holding one's breath and counting to ten in a hostile fashion isn't the "count to ten" that's recommended. Breathing to ten is way better.

Breathing can be done in an overt, hostile "I'm breathing so I won't hurt you" passive-aggressive way, too. That cancels it right out.

The quote is from an online chat, but a good link is SandraDodd.com/breathing.
photo by Destiny Dodd, of sunlight coming in the top of a cavern

Friday, July 6, 2018

Roots might show

Conditions aren't always ideal. Parents have histories, kids have genetics, sometimes it's summer and sometimes it's winter. You might live in the desert, or a rainforest.

Where you are, when you can, do some cool things.

(Apple Tree analogy, and the nature of wholeness)
photo by Joyce Fetteroll

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A little big deal

Perhaps you have seen lots of fireworks—professional, big shows that cost tens of thousands of dollars. If so, $20 worth of little fountain fireworks might seem lame.

Some people are newer to the world. A child who hasn't seen so many fireworks might be thrilled by a few fountains. Honor their excitement. Share it. You're creating a memory of peace and light, if you do it well.

photo by Sandra Dodd
(a lame photo of something that was making a nine-year-old girl very happy)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Steps toward "better"

By making the better choice, you step away from the worse choice.

photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Grace and joy

People who resist or reject joy will be rejecting the best tool they could have used to unschool well, to have longterm relationships with others, and to age gracefully.

photo by Amy Childs

Monday, July 2, 2018

Those flowers bloomed.

I have saved this, text and images, from something Janine Davies posted:

Kes has loved the film Wall-E since he first saw it, age 3. ❤️

He has watched it over and over ✨

When his snow boots didn’t fit him this winter and we bought him new ones, he said, “I’m going to grow a flower in my boot just like in Wall-E.”

He planted seeds in both boots back in early spring and today those flowers bloomed. πŸŒΌπŸŒΌπŸ’›πŸ’›
The plant from Wall-E

top photo by Janine Davies, 1 July 2018

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Past voices

Let the past inform your decisions. Let the past be a little angel on your shoulder, but don't let the voices in your head tell you what to do. It might be time to tell the voices in your head "enough."

Voices in your head
photo by Karen James