Thursday, December 31, 2020

Comfort and joy

Many people have said when they moved their focus from their own concerns and feelings onto their children's comfort and joy, there was enough comfort and joy for the whole family and some to spread around.

In a mother-focussed home, unschooling won't work very well.

Always Learning, in 2006
photo by Kinsey Norris

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Don't hackle or vex

zoo sign in Hindi and English telling people not to bother the animal

Good policy for the treatment of children, too! Keep all those things in the "bad idea" column, and choose their opposites whenever you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Big gift, little effort

A good project for this season: Maybe send a thank-you note.
Not to me.

Send a thank-you note to someone who has helped you this year, or maybe deliver one by hand to the nicest person at your grocery store, or a neighbor who smiles and waves.

Maybe someone has been nice to you online, and you could send an e-mail or a facebook message.
photo by Mary Lewis

Monday, December 28, 2020

Forgotten roofs of the world

I'm sure there are things on my roof that would be interesting to someone else, but I don't go up there, and I don't look.

When I've visted other places, though rooflines seem exotic, and the chimneys and birds and all are not what I'm used to and I get excited.
More often,
              look up.
It can help in more ways than one.

photo by Sandra Dodd, in Chichester, in England

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Turn and softly look

spontaneous delight

Turn and softly look at your child to see what is fresh and new. Look at your child with awe. See your child with curiosity. Admire your child. You will be amazed. Learn to be content with your own puzzlement, and to nurture the puzzlement around you. It's okay not to have all the answers, but to let the questions confuse you for a while as you move in new directions. Let new ideas and experiences astonish you. Find delight in small, everyday things.

Turn and softly look at the world to see what is fresh and new. Look at the world with awe. See the world with curiosity. Admire the world. You will be amazed.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Devyn with a lizard she had caught

Text and title repeated from December 2010, with a new photo

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Curiosity and learning

One of the highest points of any life is seeing, touching, and considering something new and different.

When considering what to do, where to go, what to bring into your home, think of things your children can experience directly, thoughtfully. Don't ask them to report, past conversational exchange. They might want to think about it privately and come to some of their own conclusions. They might think about it for the rest of their lives, if you let it be sweet, and their own.

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers ←the section on Five Senses
photo by Amber Ivey

Friday, December 25, 2020

Joyous excitement

If a child has a joyous excitement for music, or sports, computers, poetry, horses, golf or dance, nurture that without owning it. Smile at it without naming it something bigger than your child. Treat is as a butterfly, beautiful, vibrant and alive. Don’t stab a pin in it, label it and stick it in a display box to show everyone the details, and try to keep it as it is forever because then you take the life of it away. YOU own it, and not the child, then.
(original is here, but the page above is better)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Last-minute gifts

Something people need for Christmas is patience, sweetness and a little more attention than you think you have time for. Slow down just enough to look more closely at each person in your house, or in your video feed, or who sent you a card or note. If you can't give them more of yourself directly, think kindly of them. Maybe do something helpful for someone else, in their honor.

Many people are not where they would like to be this week, and those who see each other might not hug and kiss.

If you can make things better and not worse, that is a profound gift.
Give patience for Christmas.
photo by Sandra Dodd, from last year

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

If you give a sheep a cookie...

This photo is from another year.
          I'm glad the sheep had a cookie.
                   It's glorious that his mom got a photo of it.
                            I'm grateful that she let me share it here with all of you.
                                             🎵And glory shone around.🎵

photo by Christa McCowan

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A gift for the child and the parent

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

Every time I prevent something damaging happening to one of my children, it's like healing a little bit of me. Every time I help my children achieve something wonderful, it's a little bit like healing that little girl that would've like that to happen for me! I love gifting my kids with that! It helps make me a better person to give my kids something better!
—Jenny Cyphers

on Always Learning, in 2010
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, December 21, 2020

Life, living and being

I've said before that people shouldn't live with one foot in the school (with a curriculum, or trying to keep up with school), nor even in the shadow of the school.

It means to live as though school didn't exist. It means live outside of, far from, without thought of school.

Learn in ways that work naturally and holistically, where the learning has to do with life, and is living, and being.

—Sandra Dodd, 2011
Step away from school
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Sunday, December 20, 2020

A better emotional neighborhood

Good people make better parents. Better parents make better unschoolers. If some of your transitional energy is spent being a better person, your child's working model of the universe, which only he or she can build, will have a better foundation. It will be built in a better neighborhood, with cleaner air and purer water.

Right and good
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 19, 2020

When the world is new

Babies and young children can see the same old world as a whole new place, because from their perspective, bubbles, Christmas lights, fountains, sand, rainbows, and chickens are phenomenal new experiences—exciting and glorious. Next year, next time, they might have forgotten, and it can be new again.

Adults, if they're lucky, can also acknowledge the chance for learning and joy when they see something for the first time. A sense of wonder comes easily for toddlers, but it can be yours, too, with a little practice.

New to the World
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Friday, December 18, 2020

Photos, thank you

When I came to choose a photo, I looked through the past week's to find something that wasn't too similar to something I've just used.

When the blog was new, most of the photos were mine. I didn't think it would last ten years, but it has, and others have let me have some of their photos, for the pool from which I choose.

Without it being planned, the past seven photos are from Moldova, England, the eastern U.S., Northern Ireland, The Netherlands, Brazil, and the western U.S.

The week before that, Oklahoma, The Czech Republic, California, France, my home town of EspaƱola, New Mexico; more California (thank you, Karen James!)

There have been, and will be, photos from many other places, too. I hope you will continue to be soothed and amused by these images, from unschoolers, of what they're seeing, or being.

For reading, thank you.
photo by Colleen Prieto

More snow photos, mostly; mentions, maybe

If you're at a computer, or in webview, try this for fun: Mosaic

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Bringing snow inside

Laurie C wrote:

On the snow days that are entirely too cold for the children to go outside, or even when it is too dark outside we bring buckets of snow inside. We put the snow into the bathtub and allow the children to sit on the outside. Reaching into the tub they can use their action figures, trucks, barbies,or other misc. toys to play in the snow. When they are finished playing the snow runs down the drain and leaves very little clean up. (We have also allowed the children to make and throw a couple of snowballs at the shower wall.)"
—Laurie C, 2005

Things to Do in Winter, by Deb Lewis
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Intangible souvenirs

If you have any shaming or controlling voices in your head, think of how they got there, and how you might avoid becoming one in someone else's head.

Say things your child, partner, friend or neighbor will remember warmly.

Voices in your head
photo by Kelly Drewery

Monday, December 14, 2020

When is enough enough?

Don't assess "enough." Pay attention to your child and don't try to press him to do something he doesn't want to do, and don't try to make him stop doing something while he's still having fun.

See learning as your priority, and you will begin to see it more and more.

Seeing it
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Sunday, December 13, 2020

A little trust, one step

Someone had written, of unschooling:

"It sounds like it takes an enormous amount of trust in everything to allow this process to happen."

I responded:

"It takes a little trust, and desire, and willingness, to take one step. It gets easier as you go. No one can take all of the steps at once."
No one can, or should, have trust in everything. Try things out. Think carefully, and observe directly. Practice!
Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Learning not to "have to"

Please don't think that you "have to." Then it won't be a fun choice you've made.

There are a few phrases that can keep parents from really relaxing into unschooling. Letting go of "teaching" and "have to" will go a long way toward seeing learning and choices. And not just seeing them, but feeling them comfortably, living with them, and with them in you. and
photo by Eva Witsel

Friday, December 11, 2020

Your full self

"I've come to realize that my kids need ME, not just in the same room, not just nearby, but by my attention and interaction—my full self."
—Caren Knox, 2009

More by Caren Knox
photo by Elaine Santana

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Limitless relaxation

"Gorging on what was forbidden or limited is very common. Once they're confident that they truly can have as much as they want for the rest of their lives, then they will slow down and be able to walk away, confident that if they return, they'll still be able to have some."
—Joyce Fetteroll
True Tale of Kids Turning Down Sweets matches,
but it applies to other things, too, such as Abundance
and the 2004 original is at the wayback machine, here

photo by Amber Ivey

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Arbitrary rules and limits

Arbitrary rules and limits have the characteristic that they entice kids to think about how they can get around them and can even entice kids to cheat and lie. I know a couple of really really great unschooled kids whose parents set limits on their computer use time. The kids used to get up in the middle of the night to use the computer while their parents were asleep. It is an unintended but very very predictable side effect of rules and limits that they always set parents and children up as adversaries (the parents are setting the rules and the children are being required to obey them &mash; these are adversarial positions) and can lead to kids feeling guilty and sneaky when they inevitably bend or even outright break the rules. Avoiding that kind of possibility is one really good reason for not having rules or limits at all.

Coercion creates resistance and reduces learning.

—Pam Sorooshian
(in an obscure discussion from 2004)
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Right and good

A thing doesn't need to be big or fancy to be right and good.

Same with people.

Right and good
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, December 7, 2020

Like real life

Soft, hard,
lasting, fleeting,
solemn or sweet—the nature of "real life" can be shifty.

Be soft, and lasting, and sweet as well and as often as you can be.

The words are new,
but a good follow-up is
How to be a Good Unschooler.

photo by Karen James,
of art by Karen James,
with subject posing

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Get witnesses

One suggestion for moving toward more peaceful parenting:

Get witnesses.That's one reason people join support groups and confess to their friends what they're doing, because you've told somebody what your intention is. You've told them what your problem is and what your intention is and now you have witnesses and for some people that helps. Sometimes it needs to be an imaginary witness, sometimes it needs to be a real witness. But maybe, if it will help you, imagine that the friend that you most want to impress is there and would you do it if they were there.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Theoretical peace

For a single person to dedicate himself or herself to "a cause" is all well and good, but for a parent to take one moment from his child's peaceful life to try to make theoretical peace 10,000 miles away is bad.

I know the argument, that there is no peace until all have peace, but that is a big old fallacy and foolishness. There never has been universal peace and never, ever could be.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, December 4, 2020

Food and shelter

Seasons change, and creatures look for a place to be, near something to eat.

If you're providing food and shelter for your children, good job! If you can look cool while doing it, with a bit of style and pizzazz, bonus for everyone.

Fill your shelter with peace and patience.

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Karen James

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Using fewer words

To a mom using way too many words, I wrote:

IF (just if) your regular mode of communication is to coat words in words and then have introductory phrases, that will very likely cause children not to understand you, first of all; not to take you seriously; and eventually not to listen to you.

Think of what you want to communicate and do it in three or five words. With feeling. Be the lead partner in your relationship. Take care of your children. Be solid.

That's for anyone, and everyone, who tends to fall into "Well, sweetie, I understand that you might be feeling frustrated, but your sister doesn't want to be hit and when you yell it hurts mommy's ears, so please find a way to be more peaceful" instead of "HEY. Stop. Leave her alone."

and more quiet

photo by Karen James


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Happily and richly

I've seen hands-off, hands-up parents use various justifications for not helping a child do better. I've seen them blame other things, other people. I don't like to see it recommended in discussions I've organized and invited people to.

What I intend to continue to do for people who want to be unschoolers in the way it's discussed here, is to encourage them to be each child's partner, to help him live peacefully and joyfully, and to learn in his own way as happily and as richly as they can arrange for it to happen.

from Getting angry at people who are helping, a discussion at Always Learning

Paragraphs above aren't in the same order they were at the longer original.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Figuring out how to read

How will they learn to read?

In school or out, every child learns to read in his own way, as he figures it out. Different people read different ways. Some are more visual, and some are sounding out letters, and some are reading groups of words.

Reading is complex, but teaching rarely helps. Until a child's brain and body are mature in various mysterious ways so that he can process the visual information and connect it to the language inside him in a manner that completes the puzzle for him, he cannot read, whether he's in school or not. Some children are three, some are thirteen, but shame and pressure never help.

Answers to the Most Repeated Unschooling Questions of All Time
photo by Chris Sanders

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Emotional well-being

amusement park tower with spinning swing seats, with flags

Emotional health and emotional well-being are as important, if not more so, as physical health.
—Jenny Cyphers

Moving Toward Less Control, Concerning Food
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, November 27, 2020

Color and form

Look for patterns and unique expressions, all around you. There will be packing materials, automobiles, tea mugs, hats and toys to serve as sculpture and utilitarian design, even if you're stuck at home.

Look out your window. Look AT your window.

some other windows
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Find wonder where you wander

"Watch and listen to you kids. Let yourself get caught up in what they find wonderful and in the process rediscover wonder itself."
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Learning without effort

When unschooling is working really well, learning will be happening, for kids and parents, without effort.
The Fabric of Life
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Calm and patience

Jenny Cyphers wrote, in 2014:

It's such a big part of our culture to get it done now, fix it all now, make it happen now, do, do, do, do. Sometimes what life really requires is calm and patience. A very valuable thing to learn in life is to how to take care of ourselves and others during times of stress and times that aren't ideal and wonderful.
—Jenny Cyphers

Moments: Living in moments instead of by whole days
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, November 23, 2020

Next week, next year, next century

early 20th century downtown building with early 20th century theater added on

People DO think of next week. They think of last week. But they're doing their thinking from inside their present selves.

Balance depends on the fulcrum. Be solid. Be grounded.
Be whole, and be here.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Present peace

Move from long-term worries to present peace.

Leave your kids alone to play, to sleep, to watch videos, to draw, or whatever they want to do.

Feed them. Water them. Love them. Wait.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Shine the light

In advice to a fearful mom, Tara Joe Farrel wrote:

Unschooling advice—or deschooling oneself—does not change just because the kids get older: *Get closer to your child.*

Eliminate those degrees of separation that have started to grow fearful roots in you! When that happens, *you* actually start to *create* that divisiveness and separation in your relationship, by listening to your fear over the needs and interests of your kid. Do not let that monster in! Shine the light on the scary cobwebs and dark stuff.

—Tara Joe Farrell
Shining light on it
photo by Karen James
(click to enlarge)


Friday, November 20, 2020

More or less

The more you do for children, the less needy they will be.

(When your choice is "more or less," go with more.)

Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary:
photo by Sarah Elizabeth

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Kind and respectful

Even within one breed, there are personalities. Even within one family, some kids are very "with It" about interpersonal realities, and others a little more clue-free.

Still It seems kind and respectful to assume the best when possible, and people can be pleasantly surprised.

If we treat all dogs (and children) as "bad dogs," they will probably respond In that way, too.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a stranger-dog in Austin
whose people had provided him a window

click for another view of that fence

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Choose peaceful moments

"Begin by living each day with your kids in moments. Not days or the school calendar. Make one peaceful moment, then CHOOSE your next peaceful choice. String together peaceful moments."
—Tara Joe Farrell
One peaceful moment
photo by Meg Oh

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Make home sparkly

Jo Isaac wrote:

What do your kid LOVE to do in the home? Do more of it. Buy more of it. Make home as sparkly as you can. Buy fancy foods, buy take-away dinners from different cultures, make extravagant hot chocolates, put your Christmas decorations up early, plan a cool advent calendar event, plan to watch a bunch of cool movies, etc.
—Jo Isaac

Sparkly Unschooling is a good match,
but the original is here on facebook
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, November 16, 2020

Handle life carefully

antique 'explosives' sign

The fewer things you say or do to make things worse, the better things will be.
photo by Marty Dodd

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Openings in walls

Windows and doors keep things in and let things out. Some of the most beautiful parts of everyday life, and of exotic or glorious architecture, involve those openings and their closures.

This blog is about half tagged. Newer posts, and 2010-2014 are finished. I'm still working on those middle years, so these links will lead to more images as time passes.

Enjoy peeking in, and out, or wondering about other people's doors and windows.

photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Running for fun

If you're able to run for fun, you should find more reasons to do it!

Sometimes people get too old, or they're hurt, or it's too cold, or other factors keep running from happening. If you can run, run some for the rest of us!
Running in the Fog
Recovering (photo of someone running on water, in a big ball)
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Friday, November 13, 2020

Let it fade

Every day he's away from school, negative effects will fade.

But just as with any scab, scratching it and rubbing dirt in it isn't as good as letting it heal. So when school is no longer a part of the child's life, it's good to turn away from the school and let it fade into the distant past. Repeating and reciting and retelling the school problem keeps it alive and present. has the quote. The original is here.
I made one small change, up above.
photo by Renee Cabatic

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Busy lives

Although the ideal is to focus on one thing at a time, moms with kids (dads too, sometimes) can become expert at two things at once, and it can be fun. Think of times you've tasted two tastes together, or heard two things at once. Sometimes they blend; sometimes they are jarring.

It's easy to see two things at once, or to notice a combination or juxtaposition you would not have expected.

Thinking many thoughts, and deciding which to keep and which to set aside is the basis of choices, and of wise decision making!
Whirl and twirl
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

An intellectual process

a series of small pools, with little waterfalls between, on a slope in the mountains in India
Pam Sorooshian wrote:

This whole unschooling journey was very very much an intellectual process for me—a process of developing deeper and deeper understanding by reading and listening to others, thinking hard about what I'd read and heard, applying what made sense, paying attention to how things were going, waiting a little, trying out other ideas that seemed to make sense, and continuing that process for all the years I had children—taking in input of others ideas and experiences, considering and analyzing, acting on my own conclusions, observing my own family dynamics—all at the same time.
—Pam Sorooshian

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch

The quote lives at Understanding Unschooling
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Clouds and water

small clouds reflected in a lake
Clouds and water are two forms of the same material. Water can reflect clouds, too. Clouds can cast shadow on water.

There won't be a test, but sometimes consider how other things can be "the same," yet very different. Our perceptions depend on light, angles, our own knowledge and history. What you see isn't everything. What you know is smaller than the whole.

Be open to beauty and joy.

A Different Angle
photo by Jen Keefe

Monday, November 9, 2020

Accessible enlightenment

Janine wrote:
When my family started unschooling, my partner and I felt the spirituality of it immediately...
. . . .
It's grounded, realistic, accessible enlightenment.

Read the whole thing, halfway down this page:

photo by Sandra Dodd, of the calliope on an English carousel
that now lives in a mall in California