Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Monstrous fun

Dress-up and make-believe help children learn. Assisting children in their dress-up gives parents opportunities to be skillful and chillful.

Relax and play!
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The history of tomorrow

Emily Strength wrote:

"The pop culture of today is the history of tomorrow."

I responded:

This is true of music, clothing, food, hairstyles, slang, cars, kitchen design, dishes, shoes, musical instruments...
. . . .
Find this river of newness becoming history that's flowing right around and through us all, and learn to ride it openly and happily if you can!

I left some out, above. So history goes.
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, October 29, 2018

Everything else

A mom once expressed excitement about strewing books. I wrote and said strewing books wasn't the best way to strew. She asked "What else is there to strew?"

I wrote:
         "Everything else."
And then I listed a few dozen things, which are saved at the link below.

My kids have been interested in books and documentaries, but if I only "counted" that, or thought those were more valuable than the other connections, unschooling would fizzle.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Adding beauty

Adding beauty where it was not required is the heart of artistry.

Perhaps art is never "required."
Maybe art is always a choice.

Discovering or creating beauty
photo by Lydia Koltai

Friday, October 26, 2018

Share this contagion!

As my kids get older...I'm seeing more vividly the results of parenting choices, not just in them, but in their more conventionally parented peers, as well. Generosity begets generosity.
—Caren Knox
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, October 25, 2018


It's a luxury to be able to sleep when you're tired.

Parents of young children might think that opportunity won't ever come back to them, but it will. Meanwhile, try to feel the benefit, and the gift you're offering when you let your children sleep how and where they want to, if and when you can.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Avoid punishments because...

No matter how "peaceful" the punishment might be, it still involves power and judgment and has a loser. A winner and a loser. Ultimately several losers, because the parents lose out on the chance to undo it, and the grandchildren might suffer similar losses of choice, freedom and happiness if the children aren't shown a better way.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
photo by Lisa Jonick

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Engineering peace

Every bit of peace makes the world more peaceful. If you can engineer one peaceful moment, you can have two or ten.
From The Big Book of Unschooling, Sandra Dodd
photo by Eva Witsel

Monday, October 22, 2018

A hundred times instead of once

Many people do have experience "removing restrictions," but please help us help others by NOT recommending doing that, ever. Sudden change confuses kids, they don't trust it, they assume it's temporary, and so their behavior reflects that. And it robs parents of the growth from gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more.

You could have said "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, and the gradual change would have been a joy.

"Too Far, Too Fast":
(I changed the original slightly, because it used to have "joy" twice.
I'm not against joy, but it broke the flow.)
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, October 21, 2018

How much time will this take?

How much time does unschooling take?

It depends how you look at it. If you're looking for moments of one-on-one instruction or school work, it takes none of that. If you're looking for hours of mindful living with the hope and expectation of learning, then it will take all your time.

If you come to see and understand unschooling, then the question about how much time it takes will seem like asking "How many hours a day are you alive?"

Page 6 of The Big Book of Unschooling, which links to
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Playing around

Usually it looks like we're just playing around. When it doesn't look like we're playing, I work on it. Unschooling works best when we're playing around. Much of our play involves words, music and humor. It has to do with merrily connecting the dots, in a real world way, and in a mental-connection way.

Jubilation and Triangulation
photo by Karen James

Friday, October 19, 2018


Wherever you live, most of the rest of the world will never visit there, never see or touch the things you see every day.

Sometimes, when you look, listen, taste, feel, smell, close your eyes and rest, remember that you are in one special place.

Something different
Normal or exotic?
photo by Carolyn Pihl, of an apple in Sweden

Thursday, October 18, 2018


If you get to sleep for a long time, be glad. If your sleep is interrupted, try to be like a cat, and just accept it. Measuring sleep and being angry about the clock will lead to neither peace nor rest.

Children will wake you up. Breathe in love and remain restful.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


I decided not to hate anything, and to leave as much of the world accessible to my kids without them feeling they were messing with something I didn't like, or asking about something I disapproved of.

When I reject something from my life, it closes doors, in my head, and in my soul. I can't make connections there anymore. I have eliminated it from active play. It's not good for unschoolers

Everyone has the freedom to be negative. Not everyone has thought of good reasons to be more positive.
The quote above starts in the middle of a sentence, at the page called "open."
Before that, it was about jazz and science fiction. It's a circus page.
photo by Ester Siroky (click for more context)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The real problem

Years before we had children, I was telling my young husband-to-be that in school the only math I liked were the "word problems."
He said those are the only real math problems in text books. That was the real math. The numbers sitting already in equations and formations were the solutions to unstated problems, with only the arithmetical calculations left to be done.

I remember that moment vividly. I was in my late 20's and hearing for the first time what "mathematics" meant. I had asked my teachers all through school "What is this for?" and "How is this used?" and they rarely had an answer beyond "Just do it," or "It will be on the test."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sparkly thoughts and moods

When someone said she should make her house seem more sparkly, I wrote:

Not seem. No pretending.

Not your house. Your thoughts, your interactions, your moods, your responses. Sparkling, like sparkling from one thought to another, connecting a picture with a song with a joke with a movie with a dog.

Sparkly ideas
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A big, easy difference

"If I can bring someone a snack before they come tell me they are hungry it can make a real difference in the kind of day we are all having!"
—Sylvia Woodman

Siblings: Attending to Very Young Children and Their Siblings
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Gently, step by step

Step by step is usually more effective than trying to leap across. More tortoise, less hare.
—Debbie Regan

Gently unwind
photo by Robin Bentley

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sunrays and angles

Remember that different people see things differently, maybe because they're younger, or shorter, or more interested in the mountains than in the sunray. Maybe someone is thinking of song lyrics and will miss a joke. Being near running water can keep someone from hearing a question.

It's likely that more things are happening and being noticed than the parents saw or planned.

Do the peaceful, generous things when you can.
photo by Lisa J Haugen

Thursday, October 11, 2018

More than some

We can't know all of everything, but we can know more of everything.

More of everything
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Don't play it, be it

"If you are choosing to be a mother, move beyond playing at it, and *be* it."
—Pam Laricchia
Are You Playing the Role of “Mother”? by Pam Laricchia
(see also, if you're having fun,
photo by Colleen Prieto

originally Being a mother, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Are you struggling to relax?

Leah Rose:

Sandra wrote: "They need to STOP battling, STOP fighting, STOP struggling"

This has been such an incredibly powerful, empowering concept for me. It's a total turn around from the way I grew up thinking, from the way we think and speak in Western culture. But I have made the greatest strides in my own deschooling by learning to notice when I feel myself "struggling," and to Stop! Then I can choose to let go, to relax about the disparity between what I want and what is. And what I have discovered is that that conscious mental shift releases the energy I need to step forward mindfully into the moment...and then that moment becomes, itself, a step towards what I want, away from what I don't want.
—Leah Rose
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, October 8, 2018

Seeing and Doing

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

Go to parks, pick up sticks, ride bikes to new places, swing on the swing differently, make bubbles and blow them in front of a fan. Look at stars at night and try to find constellations, light things on fire with magnifying glass, roast hot dogs for dinner (it's cheap), the possibilities are limitless, but only if you choose to see them.
—Jenny Cyphers

Choose to see abundance
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 7, 2018

See your child

See all that is good about your child.
Holly Dodd, self portrait in a gas cap

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Confidence oozes out

Once your own child starts to grow and change, then the confidence isn't external. It's not "I believe this will happen because I've seen it happen elsewhere," it's "I believe it's happening because it's happening. You can't deny that I know my child learned this without school." And so the confidence that those families then have oozes out to other families. And this is an advantage of those many years passing, is there's a lot of experience, a lot of examples, to see.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, October 5, 2018

Into the future

One of the most important things to remember is that we have choices. It's the choices we make, consciously or unconsciously, that take us into the future.
—Karen James
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fascinating or non-fascinating?

In a discussion on why children should learn things, I suggested that it would make them more interesting at cocktail parties. Someone objected, saying children shouldn’t be pushed to learn things just to make them interesting. She had missed my point, but that only made the discussion more vibrant.

The cocktail party goal might be more worthy than pushing them to learn things so that they can get into college, but I was really enjoying the discussion because it was so different. For one thing, it’s quite a figure of speech now, so many years after the heyday of “cocktail parties." And wouldn't an admissions officer prefer fascinating over non-fascinating? But the stated objection was this: “To push kids in all kinds of directions in order for them to be fluent at cocktail parties is a waste of time, imho." It amused me and I responded. ...
photo by Holly Dodd, of herself in a Learn Nothing Day shirt

When this first ran in 2011, there was a good comment, and that's Right Here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Body Smart"

There are eight or ten intelligences people have, in different combinations and degrees. One is "bodily intelligence," or kinesthetic intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic covers dance, body-awareness, physical talents that might be used for sports or knot-tying or wood carving or physical therapy. Some people are only slightly aware of how their bodies work and what their capacities are. Some people seem to be born knowing, or using their bodies well without even thinking about it.

See and appreciate physical skills.

Multiple Intelligences
photo by Lydia Koltai

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Enjoy it!

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

What do I regret? EVERY minute that I spent worrying over whether the house was clean. That would be my biggest regret. THAT was wasted worry.
. . . .
I have learned to LOVE doing the dishes. I don't DO them without enjoying it. I either enjoy it or don't do it. Appreciate or enjoy or at least feel pleasant&mdashI don't have to be deliriously happy. So sometimes they don't get done. But usually they do. And nobody in my house ever has bad feelings about dishes anymore.
—Pam Sorooshian

Quote from Chat with Pam Sorooshian;
Ideas match Dishes.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 1, 2018

Laugh, think, smile

In a group chat on "wonder and awe," Marta wrote, to me:

Do you know what I have done lately whenever I'm feeling a bit down? I listen to one of your talks! It makes me laugh, it makes me think, it makes me smile, it makes me feel awe and it makes me go right back to my daughter and my husband and touch them and kiss them.

I love your voice, I love your laughter. It calms me, what can I say?
—Marta Venturini Machado

The quote is from Wonder and Awe
and there are things to hear at
photo by Amber Ivey