Friday, August 31, 2018

Sources and resources

Learn however and whenever you can, and remember no one person has everything you need.

Movies that Influenced Me
Screenshot from "Searching for Bobby Fischer"

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rich and full

Karen James wrote:

The most wonderful thing (to me) about unschooling is that we can support our children's growth, development, and learning in ways that embrace and nurture who they are as whole people with all their strengths and limitations. Our children can learn to live a rich and full life not in spite of where they fall short, but in celebration of where they find meaning and purpose and useful practice of skills they've come to own through a deeper understanding of who they are and what they care to spend their time and energy doing.
—Karen James
photo by Hema Bharadwaj

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Supplies for parents

Unschooling doesn't work out for every family, for various reasons. In a conversation, an unschooling mom said some families don't have the time, money and benevolent patience it takes to unschool. I thought it was a good checklist of needs: Time, money and benevolent patience.

What it takes
photo by Sandra, of Alex Polikowsky's son and a snowman as big as he was

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Karen James:
Your kids will learn to respect you when they come to understand from experience what respect feels like to them.
Sandra Dodd:
It can't happen all at once, but without taking the first steps, and the next, it will never happen.
photo by Amber Ivey

Monday, August 27, 2018

Gradually building

In our home, everything we do is an opportunity to learn something new or to make a new connection to something familiar, allowing each of us to gradually build on our unique understanding of the world."
—Karen James
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Change a few little things

Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life.
photo by Marty Dodd, of an beautifully cast and enamelled antique slot machine

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Don't look for rules. Look for principles. You want your children to fit in politely in situations they're about to find themselves in. There's no reason to coach them about how to act at a wedding unless they're about to go to one. Then there are LOTS of things they might need to know, depending on their age.
photo by Celeste Burke

Friday, August 24, 2018

Life is fairly unfair

Who's responsible for making life fair? Where and when has life been fair, and can we produce that condition again?

Parents try to be fair with their children, and sometimes do it by counting and measuring the time and money they put toward one child and another, but is it "fair" to give an introverted child who isn't needy the same amount of attention one might give an unsettled, hyper, talkative kid with the urge to collect something that costs money?

Fairness (where people had complained about homeschoolers)
Individual needs (which is soothing)
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Options beyond

Children and parents both will find many choices, crossroads, options and surprises as life unfolds.

We see an opportunity, or a passageway, or a place to sit for a moment, but we can't know what the effect will be of choosing that or opting out.

Living with curiosity and joy, acceptance and calm, will help you through surprises and through lulls. There will be other paths to take, other places to rest.
photo by Ester Siroky

Part of being present!

Solve problems before they become problems. Notice the direction things are heading and change things. Don't let them get hungry, tired, testy to the point where they're hitting or destroying things. Food. Naps. Go home. Put on a video. Draw one away to do something totally different.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Chrissy Florence

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Real respect

Some people confuse respect and courtesy. Some people confuse nicey-niceness with respect. But real respect changes action and affects decisions.
. . . .
Respect can be shown sometimes by being quiet. Sometimes it can be shown by thinking about what someone says and not dismissing it half-heard.
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, August 20, 2018

Ideas about unschooling

Writing about my writing:

I’m trying to pick ideas up and turn them over and see if they work, how they work, how they might be tweaked to work better.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Breathe, open, flush

Change your thoughts so that gratitude is with you all day. Make your decisions with gratitude in mind. Breathe in gratitude when you take a breath to think of what to do next. Open the refrigerator door with gratitude that it's not empty. Flush the toilet with gratitude that you have plumbing.
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Let go and look

Joyce wrote:
You can learn a lot by letting go of what you think you're seeing and really look.
"Don't fear your children's happiness, excitement and enthusiasm. Your kids are already experts on learning. You knew it all once too. But it's gotten buried beneath layers of "expert" ideas on how and what kids need to learn *in school*. You can learn a lot by letting go of what you think you're seeing and really look."
—Joyce Fetteroll
The quote was a light in a darker discussion.
Read more by Joyce here:
photo by Karen James

Friday, August 17, 2018

All of the days

Q: How will you know if they're learning?

A: Teachers need to measure and document because they need to show progress so they can get paid, and keep their jobs. They test and measure because they don't always know each child well.

Parents know a child is learning because they're seeing and discussing and doing things together every day. Not five days a week, or most of the year, but all of the days of their whole lives.
photo by Sarah Lawson

Thursday, August 16, 2018

High, low or average... (Don't ask.)

Of all the things I believe strongly, one that has changed my life as profoundly as any one other belief is my personal knowledge that test scores can and do (can't fail to) affect the treatment a child receives at his parents' hands. High scores, low scores, average scores—no matter.
Parents cease to treat the child as his original, known self and color him soul deep with that number.

My life would have been different. My husband's life would have been different, without those 5th and 8th grade ITBS scores. I venture to say without even knowing who is reading this that your life would have been different, and specifically I believe your life would have been better, had not you been branded with a number on your "permanent record" (there's a big mean scary joke, the "permanence" and important parts) as a young innocent ten or thirteen year old full of potential, at some unknown point on a learning curve that might soon be at its settled-out level, or might just be beginning.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Random efficiency

Unschooling is a way to homeschool, but without the schoolishness. Things can be learned in whatever order they come along, and the learner will eventually connect all the information he has gathered, but maybe not in the same way or in the same order as the assembly line would have had him do it.
Shockingly efficient
photo by Kristy Hinds

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Actually seeing it

Q:  How can families transition from more traditional methods of education to an unschooling approach?

A:  Unschooling involves seeing the world in a different way. Sometimes formal homeschooling families do some deschooling, but when switching to unschooling, more and different deschooling is needed, especially for the parents who have been involved in school and teaching and defending schooling for probably 20 or 30 years. The kids will be ready to unschool before the parents, usually.

It would help to be in contact with other unschoolers at playgroups or on the internet, and to meet unschooling families with children of various ages. It's difficult to imagine it, so it's easier to actually see it.

This new way of seeing the world involves seeing music in history, and science in geography, and art in math, and not talking about it. The last part is the hardest part.

I don't mean never talk about it. I mean don't say "Oooh, look! Science!" Once a person knows science is everywhere, and everything is connected to everything else, there will be nothing to talk about except the topic at hand, or where they're going or what they're seeing. The learning will happen without being labeled and sorted out. The labeling and sorting can prevent learning.
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, August 13, 2018

Keep learning

We don't know what our kids are thinking about what they're watching, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling in their lives. And we don't need to know. It does help for us to keep learning, too, ourselves, so we have more confidence that they're learning.
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, August 12, 2018

No assembly required

My favorite definition of unschooling is providing an environment in which learning can flourish. School prescribes what should be learned, and in what order. Then they build an assembly line, and put all the students on it. The reward those who get through easily, and punish others. School at home is like an assembly line for one.

Learning for Fun: Interview with Sandra Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd, in an antique shop,
in Ashford, Surrey


Saturday, August 11, 2018

He will learn.

When a child’s life is full of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, people and places, he will learn. When he feels safe and loved, he will learn. When parents begin to recover from their own ideas of what learning should look like (what they remember from school), then they begin a new life of natural learning, too.

a 2012 interview at Mommy-Labs
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 10, 2018

Creating problems

The idea that one can make a sacrifice to assure future success is ancient among humans, isn't it?

Deprivation doesn't create appreciation. It creates some or all of desire, neediness, curiosity, fascination, resentment, obsession, anger...

What have you sacrificed?
photo by Karen James

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A dynamic tapestry

Karen James wrote:

What I've discovered about my son's learning (about my own as well) is that it's a tapestry of experiences that weave themselves over time, with some threads longer than others, with some threads connecting in surprising places, with gaps that aren't holes but rather spaces that make way for new connections and patterns to take shape. It's dynamic and forever growing and changing. One simple exposure to something today can lead to some bigger exploration years down the road. Or something that seemed all-consuming one moment can be a mere whisper of influence the next.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

There and aware

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Conventional parenting is not about being present with kids. It's about giving kids rules as a replacement for being there. Same can go for information. Information shouldn't be a substitute for being there and being aware. We should let kids know that cars can hurt them, which is why we steer them clear of the street. But we shouldn't then depend on kids understanding. We need to be there. We need to be aware of our child's tendencies to run to the street when in that type of situation. We need to avoid as much as we can places where they can run into the street until they can understand.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Goals and vehicles

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling shouldn't be a goal. It's a vehicle that's well suited for getting to particular goals. Some of those goals are joyful living, whole children, learning through interests
Unschooling isn't the only vehicle that can get to those goals. And those aren't the only goals.

There's more of that, at this page:
and the ideas are good for non-single parents, too.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 6, 2018

Leaping and dancing

It's bad to make a religion of unschooling.

It's good to see all the logic and practicality in it, and to incorporate things gradually until the awkward first steps turn to confident strides and then to leaping and dancing in the dark.

Happy Logic
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Surprise opportunities

Gail Higgins, an unschooling mom, wrote of this photo: "Opossum staredown. Surprise photo op 😀"

It reminds me of those unexpected moments that pop up in any parent's life. Unexpectedly, someone is looking at you expectantly. It could be one of your children, your partner, a relative, a neighbor, a friend or a stranger.

Confidence in unschooling principles will make those moments increasingly easy to deal with. After becoming an unschooler, one can respond as an unschooler. It does take a while.

As Gail's confidence in her photographic skills increases, she can respond as a photographer, when surprises come along.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, August 3, 2018


There are different ways of seeing, and different things to see, even in the same scene, or object.

Look more closely
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Joy and learning

If a family is looking for rules and passivity, they can create a lifetime of it. If a family wants joy and learning, the creation is a bit more difficult and unusual but doable!
photo by Kristy Hinds
(at Bandelier National Monument)


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Look up and smile

Some mom reading here might look up and smile at her child, or touch his head softly, or turn off the computer and go watch him build with Lego, or go with him to the park to throw a frisbee for the dog. Maybe without this discussion, she would've told him to just go do something else because she had to fix dinner.
photo by Robin Bentley