Friday, November 29, 2019

Artistry with color and food

When you choose, clean, cut and set food down, be there.

Sometimes, consider the texture, color and shapes. A few minutes spent seeing more clearly, and moving more purposefully, might make memories for those who see your momentary artistry, and will give you a moment of presence and success.

Play with your food
photo by Lisa Kae

Thursday, November 28, 2019


When you look up, literally or figuratively, life is better than when you're stuck looking down.

The air, the light, the expansive sky, are not down under your feet.

Look way up, and smile.

photo by Megan Oriah

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kids' stuff, and sunrise

At the age of eleven, Holly has had very little exposure to the idea of what is kids' stuff and what is not, and so her television and movie tastes are personal and calm. She will watch Teletubbies on the same day she might watch Stand By Me or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She likes music, she understands The Green Mile, and she's analytical about the messages various PBS children's shows intend to present, about school or self esteem or history or math. It's fun for me to watch her watch TV.

Seventeen years after that was written...
We have a toddler watching Teletubbies at our house sometimes now. Holly saw a sunrise that reminded her of the intro to that program, and sent it to me for Just Add Light and Stir.

How Unschooled Kids Watch TV
photo by Holly Dodd, November 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Who thinks what?

[For unschooling to work...]
The parents need to be truly interested in their children as people, not just as symbols or irritants or mistakes or property. They need to care more what their children think than what other adults think, and that is very rare in the world.

I don't know where I wrote it, but Tiffani M. shared it on Facebook in 2012.
I'm glad she saved it.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Monday, November 25, 2019

Tangents and connections

How many ways can you categorize a scene or a situation? Here is a photo of a bridge.

I see geography, weather, water, engineering, technology, materials, transportation, history, finance, artistry, reflection, photography, generosity, audience, storage, reference, stored in fleeting pixels.

Play with your ability to see things more than one way. Enjoy hopping from one connection to another.

photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Think it up

Think of something that could make a child's life better.

Act on that thought.

Inventory Your Tools
photo by Sarah S.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Supporting the soloist

What is your relationship with your child? The boss? The friend? VARIES depending on project—sometimes I'm the coach or the lead. Sometimes I'm not.

Sometimes I'm a stagehand. Sometimes I'm the soloist. Sometimes my child is the soloist.

What happens with partners is that when one is the soloist, the others still sing backup, or sit in the audience supportively, and meet them at the stage door, figuratively or literally.

Some thoughts about partnerships
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The cool thing is...

The cool thing about partners is, if they win you win.

Partnerships and Teams in the Family
photo by Tessa Onderwater

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Whole people, with lives unfolding

I see my children as whole people whose lives are unfolding now. They may have memories as vivid as mine. What I do and say now will be part of their lives after I’m dead. And do I want to be the wicked witch? Do I want to be a stupid character that they grow up and live in reaction to and avoidance of? And so if I see them as whole, then I see that as they grow bigger, I grow smaller in their universe.

Improving Unschooling (transcript, and recorded interview)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Same sun

The sun I see today will be the same sun you all see. In Maharashtra, in East Sussex, in New Mexico, the horizon is different but the sun is the same.

Children learn by playing, asking questions, trying things, watching and thinking. The house, objects and the other people are different, but unschooling works the same way.
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Monday, November 18, 2019

The way to be

The way to be an unschooler is to change the way you see and think,
so that you can change the way you act and react.

problems with unschooling lists
auto-generated word cloud with words from some posts here

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Building the foundation

Caren Knox wrote:

In addition to this time being short, and precious, you are building the foundation of natural learning in your home. Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now.

—Caren Knox

"Are we stuck?"
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Give your kids so much love and self-confidence that peer pressure will mean nothing to them. They will be pressure-proof.

photo by Holly Blossom

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Intense learning

I was just telling a young (22) friend the other day that my kids were always the most exhausted not after a day of physical activity, but after a day of intense learning. If they saw things they had never seen, got to do something they’d never done, met new people and played and talked, they slept like rocks. But those days might not have looked like something to write a transcript about.

Sometimes the most intense learning of all looks like play. And that is central to what makes unschooling work.

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07
photo by Kinsey Norris

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Learning and peace

Peace and calm help learning.
Stress and pressure never help learning.

If you set your priority on learning and peace, it makes other questions easier.
Peace and calm
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 11, 2019

Information to consider

I don't care if people disagree with me. I wouldn't want anyone to agree with me blindly, nor disagree blindly.

Nothing personal to me—I just want to present information for people to consider.

That was written in the mid 1990s, in an online workshop
about detoxing oneself from schoolishness.
It is preserved here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Learning everything

If you think of knitting as “good for learning math” it isn’t good for knitting. 🙂

EVERYthing is good for learning everything.

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07
photo by Ida Maria Stenild Coltau

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Compare and appreciate

When trying to decide whether unschooling is working, remember to compare it to what would be going on if your kids went to school. They’d be doing six different things (homework) not of your choosing or theirs. And you would be expected to oversee/help.

They would have been taught by school NOT to fraternize with others; they would be less likely to play together.

So don’t compare it to your imagined ideal. Compare it to other real options, and then appreciate what you have.

The big upside
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Friday, November 8, 2019

Try, discuss, explore

What makes unschooling work is that children learn by playing. Older kids too. Adults, too. People learn by playing.

People can learn without “work” and “study.” They can learn by trying, discussing, exploring.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Real, actual unschooling

I don’t mind “radical.” I just hear it as “real” or “actual.”

Radical Unschooling is...
photo by Cass Kotrba

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Your move

Sometimes I’ve said that conversations, friendships, relationships, are like a chess game. You don’t get to plan out all the moves in advance and decide the end. You get to make ONE move. Then you wait.

Because of a post called Moonrise, here,
a discussion ensued.
photo by Vicki Watkins

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Value, form and substance

My response to this (years ago):
We are going into our third year of "homeschooling." Our first year consisted of complete deschooling. The next year I fell victim to mother panic mode
If I said "I went through a year of demagnetization, and the next year all kinds of metal stuck to me," you might think I hadn't really demagnetized!

Deschooling only works when it works. Doing nothing schoolish isn't the same as actively recovering from school. Kids will get over school gradually, but there needs to be an active unschooling life taking its place as they recover. Parents get over schooling MUCH more gradually, as they were in school more and they have parental fears and responsibilities and pressures from others. So it takes more work and more time for parents to see the value of and to recognize the form and substance of natural learning.

Unschooling - some questions (2003)
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, November 4, 2019

A small decision

How often do you make a choice?
How often do you think "I have no choice"?

How do decisions happen?
How small a decision can you make?
        to pause?
        to smile?
        to sign your name bigger and happier?
        to open your windows and your thoughts?

Considering Decisions
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Growing newness

Unschooling is a good excuse for parents to do new and interesting things.

Unschooling can make it easier for a parent to feel, and to show, enthusiasm.

When a parent enthusiastically does new and interesting things, there is value even if the child's attention and interests are elsewhere.

Newness and excitement
photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Sleep it off

Sometimes you need to sleep it off. Being tired can be a sign that there was a whole lot of fun, activity, work, or learning.
Sleep when you're tired
photo by Sandra Dodd