Thursday, February 28, 2019

Breathing and baby steps

Breathing and baby steps are useful suggestions for new unschoolers. Both help us to stay in the moment, to relax right where we are rather than leaping ahead or getting mired in "shoulds." They help us cultivate soft, open ground upon which we can rest with joy, and know enough confidence to take the next step.
—Leah Rose
The first sentence is slightly amended from the longer writing
(upper left, second item) here:
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

History is Here

History is here—in the appliances and furniture we have in our homes, the medications and bandages and toothpastes we use, popular music and movies, and the available bicycles, skis, computers and candy.

If that seems wrong, look at photos from 1919, or read accounts of what they had, for those things listed above. What were the soles of their shoes made of? What games did they play? How many presidents or kings or prime ministers had there been then? (Depending where you're from, adjust the question—your country might not even have existed in 1919). History
photo by Holly Dodd, of two trucks and a jeep, a mailbox
and a tumbleweed, at a farm where she works sometimes
(The truck on the right is hers, but belonged to her grandfather before.)


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Comfort and entertainment

Here's how unschooling can help: Look right at her, this moment, and do what will comfort or entertain her. Do that as many moments as you can, until she's helping you find things that are comforting and entertaining.

Comfort and entertainment can lead to all the learning in the world, if you start when a child is young.
photo by Amy Milstein

Monday, February 25, 2019

Some of the moments...

"I see all that time and energy and attention as an investment—in my son, and in my own future. If I get to grow old, I hope these are some of the moments that bring colour to my winters."
—Karen James
photo by Amy Milstein

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Nice, and patient

Being nice to another person is what makes one nice.

Being patient with another person is what makes one patient.

If a parent says hatefully "BE GOOD," he's not being very good.

Instead of telling a young child "Be nice, and be patient," the parent should be nice, and patient. It's a generality, and a truism, but it's generally true.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in June 2016

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Odd traditions

People do things without thinking much about them, sometimes.

We give people fire for their birthdays, but they can't keep it. "Here is your ceremonial fire," and people sing, and applaud, and it is time for that fire to be extinguished in exchange for a wish.

A child helped me learn that. It's good to be willing to learn things that are true without worrying about the source.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, February 22, 2019

Produce Happiness

Having a happy home comes from the creation and maintenance of happy conditions. Produce as much as you can. You'll fill yourself up and it will overflow, and your family might even have enough to share with friends and strangers!

That was written in explanation of having shared a quote I got from watching "Being Erica," a Canadian TV series, in which Dr. Tom (one of the main characters) quoted George Bernard Shaw: "We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it."

photo by Julie D

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Scary shadows

Sometimes children want to puff up and be bigger, and stronger, and braver, than they normally are. Help them play that, if they want to.

Sometimes children want to be a little bit scared, for fun. They might want something spooky. Stay near, and spook them gently. Be quick to change the game if "peek-a-boo" becomes too much.

It's natural for kids to think about power, and fear, and heroics, the same way kittens and puppies play rough.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Like nothing else

If a parent can learn how to "facilitate learning"—to help a child get what he needs or wants—rather than to direct or try to own it, all of unschooling goes better. And if a child learns to read without "reading instruction," that can open the world up like nothing else can.
photo by Alicia Gonzalez-Lopez

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Continuing down the path

Leah Rose wrote:

Unschooling, deschooling, parenting peacefully, all of it called to me, deeply, but it felt like a huge risk, a giant gamble. But I'm so glad we didn't pull back, that we continued down the path. ...

Learning to parent mindfully, keeping my focus in the present, making choices towards peace, towards help and support, is not, as it turns out, much of a gamble or a risk. It is the surest path to connection and trust.
—Leah Rose
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Monday, February 18, 2019

"How Important Is It?"

Sometimes in certain meetings* this question is asked:
"How important is it?"

Recently at the dentist I was under the effect of nitrous oxide, having wild, flying thoughts, and that question flitted through. I thought the profound answer was "It depends what 'IT' is, and it depends who YOU are."

When the drugs wore off, it seemed less profound, and I thought I would keep it to myself, but the very next day my husband mentioned something being like life and death to some people, and nothing at all to others.

The photo here has the top of the monument cut off, but guess what? It's not a photo of that monument. It's an image of a dad and two daughters, who happened to be within sight of (and within camera frame of) a famous thing when they were interacting with each other so sweetly.

photo by Chrissie Florence

* The "certain meetings" are likely to be Al-Anon or Adult Children of Alcoholics, where people can be hung up on problems they didn't create, or on fixing things they can't fix. It's a good question lots of times, though, when someone is wound up and hyper-focussed on something that can't be fixed right there, right then (or ever) by them.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Little bitty bits

The whole world is made of little bits of information. Yesterday, at my house, Holly asked who first did "Dream Lover." I was thinking someone like Dion, or Bobby Vee, and while I was thinking she said "Bobby Darin," and I said no, not first.

Spoiler: I was wrong.

She pulled the computer out of her pocket, looked the song up, and played the beginnings of a couple, on Spotify. "That one!" I said, to the one by Dion. It listed Ben E. King, among others, so we figured (falsely) that it was his first, THEN Dion, then Bobby Darin.

Does it matter? To us, it does. To music history, and royalties, it matters. As to political correctness and the basis of assumptions, it ties in to all sorts of socio-political, economic, maybe geographical aspects. Trivia is what knowledge is made of. Enough little bits form a rich whole.

We could each explain why we thought what about whom, in all that. Those explanations would lead to other trivia, stories of other songs, writers, and musicians.

Any interest can lead to all interests. Let curiosity flow.

These will (while they're there) link to recordings at YouTube, but if you have Spotify or another music service, you can find recordings by these and many other people. There are other songs with similar names, too. I will embed Bobby Darin's version, because he wrote it, but it's not the one I knew as a kid.

"Dream Lover," Bobby Darin (composer), April 1959
"Dream Lover," Dion, November 1961
"Dream Lover," Ben E. King, February, 1962

Notes on Wikipedia and SongFacts:
"Dream Lover" is a song written by Bobby Darin and recorded by him on April 6, 1959.
Dream Lover by Bobby Darin

Trivial posts about trivia
(or profound reflections on very real learning)

Saturday, February 16, 2019


Children WANT to act in adult ways, so it's important for unschooling parents to be the sort of adults children want to emulate, right then. Not when they grow up, but now.

From a facebook discussion about helpful unschooled kids.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 15, 2019

Mysterious elements

You don't need all the answers right away.

Sometimes a mystery is the best part!

Mentions of Mysteries
photo by Robin Bentley

Thursday, February 14, 2019

More than possible

Lyle Perry wrote:

"I know how scary it is to think about letting go of what's 'normal', and I know it seems impossible to think about your kids learning on their own, but it's all very possible. More than possible. It's waiting to happen."
—Lyle Perry
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bank it up!

Emotions are kind of like banking, in a way. If you deposit peaceful times and kindness and positive thoughts and joy, then you build up a stronger account of hope and all that.

Happy goes in the bank.

from the transcript of a chat on Mental Health
Chrissy Florence photo

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How will their learning be used?

Pam Sorooshian wrote this:

The time spent mothering and playing is not time away from real learning—not to be rushed through to get to "the good stuff" as some may think of it. It is essential to real learning and, really, to allowing the child to grow up as a whole, integrated human being.

Homeschoolers think a lot about learning—but they often focus on learning to read, write, do math, or learning science or history, etc. Unschoolers tend to take that kind of learning for granted, it happens along the way. Instead, as we get more and more into unschooling, we tend to focus on things like kindness and creativity and honesty—all those character traits that will determine "how" their learning will be used in their lives.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 11, 2019

Strewing, and teens

Someone asked about strewing for a teen. I wrote:

Your family needs to be interested and interesting. Go places. Bring things and people in. Visit friends of yours who have cool stuff or do interesting things. Ask him to go with you if you take the dog to the vet. Drive home different ways and take your time. Putz around. Go to the mall some morning when it's not at all full of teens, and windowshop.

If you can afford it, find something in another town like a play, concert, museum, event and take him there. Stay overnight.

Go touristing somewhere not too far from you. Like if you had out-of-town guests, but just go with your son.

There are other ideas, too, at
photo by Karen James

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Whole, healthy, strong and free

We can see how controlling food is related to controlling education, sleep, playtime and other areas of our childrens' lives. We can mess them up early (which our culture applauds) or we can learn to let them grow whole and healthy and strong and free, not crippled in mind and spirit.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Undamaged curiosity

Unschooling is about learning, and not about teaching. Unschooling parents rely on their children's native, undamaged curiosity and on the interesting world around them.
photo by Collen Prieto

Friday, February 8, 2019


No matter where a person is, a step up is a step up. Happier is happier.

BE better
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Older every day

If you're the preferred parent, be there, and ask the second-best parent to do back-up for you, instead of so much direct interaction. Every day, the child is older. Every single day.

Protection and enrichment
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Common connection

"I still consider monkey platters the best way to connect kids and teens when they come over and may not have anything in common."
—Leticia King

A Simple Gesture
photo by Martialia Deb Files

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Every action, an investment

"Knowing what you know, set your husband and his daughters up for peaceful, calm, successful interactions. Think of every action as an investment."
—Karen James

Actions as investments
(Longer original, at Radical Unschooling Info on Facebook)
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, February 4, 2019

Request for help

There are over 3,000 posts here now! A few good ones are linked below. If we were all in one place, I would put a jar by the door, or pass the hat. Perhaps there would be cake.

Please help me with expenses....
[that collection is finished now, so I took the links down]

photo (a link) by Holly Dodd

Natural Learning flows
Growth is good.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Many gifts

Karen James wrote:

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude for the many gifts in my life has taken me from a place of hopelessness in my mind, to one of abundant possibilities. Because my life *looks* more abundant to me, every moment holds more potential. That doesn't mean my life is all wonderful and easy. It does mean that I have access to more emotional, creative, and intellectual tools to help me move toward the kind of life I want for myself and my family.
—Karen James
photo by Amy Milstein

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Fascinating and important

Joyce Fetteroll, responding years ago to someone looking for the educational content in Thomas the Tank Engine:

I think it helps not to see it as educational content, because what he’s getting out of it that’s important to him very likely doesn’t look at all like something taught in school.

He may be absorbing things about relationships, accents, effective story telling techniques, the usefulness of color and so on. All those are really fascinating and important to some people and figure largely in the careers they choose.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 1, 2019

A toddler's whim

Dawn Todd wrote:

Whim is such a dismissive word.

A toddler's "whim" is their urge to explore and understand! One of my greatest joys as a parent is being able to facilitate that!
—Dawn Todd

photo by Lydia Koltai