Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I like traditional construction, I like stiles over fences or walls, and I like paths. This one is in Montana, and has a bridge over a ditch, to get to a stile over the fence.

There are paths we can explore, and some we can't. There are metaphorical paths, philosophical paths, spiritual paths, and real-earth paths. There are paths in video-games, stories, books, and films. We can only follow a few, but it's fun to look around at others, too, to remember they're there.

Other path posts (images of paths), and some with the term "paths." Have a nice stroll.
photo by Kelly Lovejoy

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Upbeat and sweet

Doom and gloom make the world a gloomy, doomed place.
—Sandra Dodd

Here is a longer passage of something I wrote in 2016 on facebook:

I'm unfriending people I don't really know who are complaining about their kids, or about school, or about politics or the horrors of something or other.

I'm keeping people whose pages are upbeat and sweet, and more about them and their families than about corporate demons and evil foods. Doom and gloom make the world a gloomy, doomed place.

The post itself isn't very "upbeat and sweet" today,
but I hope parents who read it will be!
photo by Jen Keefe

Monday, July 29, 2019

See them looking

If we wait to see where a child's gaze falls, and wait a while for a question or comment to form, our observation and readiness to assist if needed, or to converse casually will be better than any pre-scripted lesson could ever be.

It will be personal, and real, and at exactly the right moment.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Good job! (Is it?)

EVERY DAY you should wonder whether you're doing a good job. And you should do what it takes for you not to wonder about that.

I don't know where I wrote it, but Sylvia Woodman quoted me, in 2011.
I will match it with... Thoughts about doing better
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Embrace both

Teresa Hess:
It's like giving ourselves permission to connect with our own joy again, in the same way we're supporting our kids interests, and making sure we have their favourite foods around, and looking for things that will light them up and bringing more of that into their life. It's like, "Oh, of course, I should be doing that for me too!”
Pam Laricchia:
And it's not an either-or thing. We don't need to think of it as, "I'm caring for the kids or I'm caring for myself." Our world gets bigger when we contemplate ways we can embrace both caring for our kids and for ourselves at the same time. Caring for yourself is about connecting with yourself. And it doesn't need to be big things. Would I rather have a cup of coffee or tea? Which would bring me more pleasure right now? Often there are so many small moments in the day that can really add up, so that we don't forget about ourselves.

The quotes are from Pam Laricchia's e-mail introduction of Sparkle and Zest and Unschooling with Teresa Hess, which you hear here, on Pam's site or you can watch here, on Youtube. (There are podcast sources, too.) There is a transcript at Living Joyfully. It doesn't have Pam's beautiful words above, but Teresa and Pam expand on the ideas there.
photo by Jihong Tang

Friday, July 26, 2019

Respectful attention

Where is the balance between ignoring a child, and being an irritation?

Children should not be ignored. Attentively staying some distance away because a child is playing intently, and not interrupting flow—that can be a good thing. Knowing that a child is intently playing alone involves paying attention to the child.

Transcendental moments
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Back to work!

Learn Nothing Day is over. If you wish it were not over, and you need more time, click here.

Otherwise, the holiday is over, so get back to work!

But wait...
Learning should not be work.

Get back to fun!

But wait...
You were probably having fun yesterday.

I will quote something, and recommend a book.
When a server in a restaurant asks me, "Are you still working on that?" my reply is, "No, I'm still enjoying it."
—Dean Sluyter

You might like his most recent book:
Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction.
I have paper and audio. His voice is very soothing.

Twenty years ago I found his first book, used. Even the name is entertaining:
Why The Chicken Crossed the Road and other Hidden Enlightenment Teachings from Buddha to Bebop to Mother Goose.

At the bottom of that page, I recommended that and another of his books, and there are links, there, if you're interested. Poke around his site.

photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Stimulating environments

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Unschooling is dropping the conventions of schooling, eliminating such things as required subjects, reading and writing assignments, and tests, and entirely replacing those with the creation of a stimulating, enriched environment and lots and lots of parental support for kids in pursuing their interests and passions.

LOTS of parents create stimulating environments and give lots of support for their kids' interests; this is not unique to unschoolers. What makes it unschooling is that unschoolers give up the rest of the schooling and trust that their kids will learn what they need to learn by being immersed in the rich and stimulating environment and with parental support of kids' interests.

—Pam Sorooshian

Definitions of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 22, 2019

Now life is sweeter

Jennie Gomes posted a beautiful photo, which she took, of her son seen through a doorway. I wrote and asked if I could use it here. I didn't know what text I would match it with, but Jennie's response is its perfect partner, and I have permission to share the set with all of you.

You know Sandra, it’s a funny thing and life comes full circle.

Prior to our unschooling life a picture/moment like this would have never happened, I would have said “no” to the stuffies on the porch and Matthew using MY guitar outside.

Now, our life is sweeter and moments like these make up our lives.
—Jennie Gomes

photo by Jennie Gomes

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Your own tools and understanding

Each person who wants to unschool well will need to gather her own tools and understanding. . .

You must learn it within yourself, and see the learning in your children, in your family.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Calmer and better

Very often, becoming a calmer and better parent can help a person be a calmer, better person. Unschooling itself can be extremely healing and therapeutic at times.


Thoughts about doing better
photo by Amy Milstein

Friday, July 19, 2019

In between and beyond

I grumped and objected, once, to a challenge for people to post black and white photos. Some people were choosing perfectly good color photos and making them black and white.

I love this photo by Janine, of a black and white cat under a black and white umbrella. If it were not in color, the black and white wouldn't be clearly that.

All of our moments have context, and contrast. Things are rarely "black and white," even in a black-and-white photo. 😊

Open yourself to the smaller subtleties and to the wide expanses.
photo by Janine

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Calmly alive

Find things that make your children's lives better and that make you and your family feel more calmly alive in the world.

Pickled eggs with beets, and the photo, by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Learning every day (except one)

July 17 was my dad's birthday. For me, it was the marker of "one more week" until my own birthday.

And so in the absence of my dad in this world, with the addition of Learn Nothing Day, eleven years ago, July 17 is the "One More Week until Learn Nothing Day" day, for me. 😊

Please explore the art and notes of many years, at
the Learn Nothing Day Blog

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


"We all have issues about something. They go deep and are tangled up around other stuff but working at them bit by bit can make them better."
—Joyce Fetteroll

When Praents Have Issues
photo by Karen James

Monday, July 15, 2019

Deschooling is healing

Deschooling, when done thoroughly, leads us through all the stages of our own lives, gradually, as our children get older. As each of my children reached the ages in my life that I had stress as a kid, I had emotions arise, again, but with the third it was milder than with the first.

It's healing, to treat our children in ways we wish we had been treated.

When Parents Have Issues
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Good person, good parent

Being a good unschooling parent involves being a good person, a good parent. Unschooling can't work unless the parent is there, whole and attentive and not screwing it up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ideas might start to grow

There's a fun fallacy in people who sort of hear about unschooling and then condemn it. They often seem to have taken the position that they know all about school, and we aren't sure what or where it is. 😊

I don't know why I've survived all these years, still helping people. It's really tiring, because school defenders think we're clueless about school, and structured homeschoolers seem to assume that we have no idea what "a curriculum" might be. The same arguments and defenses and attacks, over and over.

But then some of them stick around to see what they're mad about, and discover that there's actually something to it, and even if they think it's crazy and irresponsible, the seeds have fallen, and someday when they're frustrated, and their child is sad, the ideas start to grow in them.

I guess that's why I stick around, too.

The learning and the beauty
photo by Niki Lambrianidou

Friday, July 12, 2019

Learning; being

Amy: Here is Sandra Dodd with a simple definition of unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: Creating an environment where natural learning can flourish.

Amy: What’s natural learning?

Sandra Dodd: Learning from experience, learning from asking questions, following interests, being.

Why unschool?
photo by Amy Milstein

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The gift of time and space

"We aren't leaving them to their own devices. We're creating an environment that supports them learning what interests them and learning how to be in the world. We give them time and space to do that."
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Jo Isaac

I started to call this post "Time and space," but thought I should make sure I hadn't already used that. I knew I had not used this quote before.
I have already used Time and space.
Blanketing time and space
Means, encouragement, time and space
It's kind of a theme, I guess. A range. Sort of a "time and space" continuum, or something.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Brief but bright

Sometimes an experience is brief, but memorable. Rather than big lessons, think of small moments that spark thoughts.

Playing with a sparkler is like stirring light into darkness. I like that.

"Sculpture" and other words
photo by Erika Davis-Pitre

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A better three year old

"A three year old isn't a better three year old by being able to read. A three year old is a better three year old by being helped to do what fascinates her."
—Joyce Fetteroll

more by Joyce
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 8, 2019


"The best thing you can do for your child is be fascinated by life. 🙂 Get rid of that cloak of dullness that school draped over everything. Relearn how to explore just for the sake of exploring not because it's good for you or because it will be on the test or because it could be good for you one day. Do what's fascinating right now."
—Joyce Fetteroll

"Products" of Education
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Where do you draw the line?

I love the pattern on that wall, in Spain. I've never seen it, only this photo, but it flows, like art, like dance, like a fluttery ribbon, even though it is made of brick, concrete, rocks and plaster.

"He can't even draw a straight line," is an insult that makes no sense, of an artist. Why should an artist draw a straight line? Here is some formidable art, bigger than a drawing.

Look for the art that sneaks up on you.

Unexpected, perhaps—and art
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, July 6, 2019

"I'm flying!"

Sometimes a child will tell you exactly what her thoughts are, and it can be a ton of fun. Other times, they might be thinking, wondering, dreaming, pretending, and it wouldn't be a good time to ask.

Try to give them some privacy, in their imaginings, if they want it. If they want to share with you, then, consider it a special privilege.

on being more quiet...
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, July 5, 2019

Good morning!

At your house it will be morning again within 24 hours, but it could be morning in your heart any second.

When people begin homeschooling, that's a big bright morning, but you can have as many mornings as you need. If you want to change the way you're being or thinking, just do it. Don't wait for another year, another month, another day.

Good morning!
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Stretchy light and shadow

I like thinking about what something "IS"—as though ideas and things are as solid as elements. Well... solid elements, anyway.

I like this photo. It matches the idea that glass itself is a very slow moving liquid, rather than a solid.

Does the projection show what's in the jar? It's not sticky, or sweet, that color the sun made, in that shadow. We don't know for sure that what was in the jar was sticky or sweet, either, but I'm extrapolating. So much extrapolation, in our lives, about the past, and the present and the future. At least I hope it will light you up, sometimes, and you can cast a long, pretty shadow.

Practice acceptance
photo by Lisa J Haugen

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Gradually easier

When it starts to become a habit for a parent to consider peace, safety, acceptance, choices, service and gratitude in everyday decision making, parenting gradually becomes easier.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Playing with learning

Once there was a little discussion on facebook where I said that Learn Nothing Day was like a game, and you join in by showing you know how it works. In response to a question, then, about whether it's a holiday or a game, I wrote:

Well... it's a holiday when people demonstrate what they've learned about learning by attempting not to learn, which is kind of a science experiment and kind of a festival and sort of a game.

More than one thing is happening.

Learn Nothing Day is July 24
photo by Sandra Dodd, on a carousel in Austin, Texas

Monday, July 1, 2019

The scent of life

Be willing to appreciate a scent that reminds you of something soothing.

Recently it smelled like the mountains right outside my front door. Later I read that the wind of the day before had blown the wintery pollution out of the valley, and that's what I smelled—the air from the nearby mountains on a frosty day.

Baby powder gave me good memories another day.

A Loud, Peaceful Home ("Smell your child's hair. ...")
photo by Sandra Dodd