Thursday, April 30, 2020

Think of a scent

I like the way my hair conditioner smells. I don't know what scent it is, but I try to remember to take a deep breath with it in my hands.

Sometimes realtors recommend baking cookies before a prospective buyer is coming to view the house.

I don't know what bluebells smell like, but I do have lilacs blooming in my yard this week.

Breathing will calm you down, and help center you.
Breathing in a lovely scent might calm and help transport you.

The scent of life
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Loving actions

Robyn C. wrote about some things you might consider doing if a child is having more emotions than she can handle, and shared this discovery:

"Choosing these loving actions helps my anger (at whatever level) to melt away also. The immediate result is a mother who is thinking clearly and logically, and so able to make better decisions."
—Robyn Coburn

Mothering during a Melt-Down
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

'Tis not the season

I'm posting a photo of blueberries. You may or may not live where blueberries grow. It may or may not be time to pick blueberries where you live.

Some people don't even like blueberries. Others might be gathering them to dye yarn, or cloth, or their hair.

Try to live so that you can be calm and happy with all of that.

Praceice acceptance
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, April 27, 2020

The whole language

Because phonics treats written English as a simple code when it is not, many children are frustrated very early on.

Whole language involves language as communication, rather than separate parts (writing/reading/spelling). First language; details later.

With unschooling, children will learn from the language you use and they use, from the words they see around them, from using games and computers, from signing greeting cards or playing with words. There's no need for any school-style structure at all. For those who have worried about phonics and reading and spelling, please don't press that on your children.

Play with words
photo by Caroline Lieber

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Something else

About "un," the term came out in the season of 7-Up, the Uncola. Commercials, billboards, cute campaign, not a big deal. So as 7-Up wasn't a cola, unschooling was something other than schooling.

from a 2003 discussion, lately discovered
photo by Elizabeth Anne

Friday, April 24, 2020

Admirable and attractive

Perspectives do change, if people want to learn.

Different perspectives will affect what you respect, too. What is admirable, that you want to head toward? What is attractive, and pulls you nearer? What is disturbing or embarrassing, that you want to step away from?

The origin of that, or a link to
Getting warm
or to other posts on perspective
photo by Karen James

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sunrise and family

Those who went to school (and that's over 99% of those reading this) have based half their lives, give or take a decade, on school's rhythm and labels and categorizations. When things like "the school year" are as much a part of a culture as "family" and "sunrise," it's a radical departure to consider that maybe one of those three is unnatural. For many people, it disturbs the fabric of their lives. Some people's life-fabric is already kind of rumply, or they hated school and are glad to consider alternatives, but for those orderly folks who have life all neatly arranged in their heads, who do more accepting than questioning, unschooling is a disturbing thing.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Better memories

What SHOULD I be doing as an unschooling parent?
  • More.
  • Better than school
  • Making memories

Joy and optimism!
(There are comments there, too,
and a link to the notes from which both quotes came.)

photo by Linda Malchor

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The greatest strides

Leah Rose wrote: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 Ester Siroky

Monday, April 20, 2020

Secret surprises

That flower is unfamiliar to me. Caroline, in Queensland, sent the photo. I hope if you click it, you'll see a larger image. There's a sort of bloom coming out of the flower. There's a bug. But look up and to the right, behind it. A windmill.

There will be unexpected things, in life. Some are sweet and good. Be open to seeing them!

Something Surprising
photo by Caroline Lieber

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Just the next one

Pam Sorooshian wrote:
Stop thinking about changing "for good and not just for days or moments." That is just another thing to overwhelm you and you don't need that!

Just change the next interaction you have with the kids.
—Pam Sorooshian
Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
photo by Sandra Dodd

New, April 2020:

The writing from which the quote above was taken has been translated into French, by Valentine Destrade: Une interaction à la fois.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Happier and more peaceful

There are MANY people who came to unschooling and honestly tried to consider the ideas, and they tried the suggestions, and their families started becoming happier and more peaceful. And many have reported that as their children began to relax and love their lives, that the parents begin to rethink all KINDS of things they believed were true.

Unless people are willing to try it, they can't understand it or believe it. Lots of people every day share how they got from one point to another, with lots of practical suggestions and reassurances.

Emotion vs Intellect, from Unschooling Discussion, in 2003
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, April 17, 2020

Deep down, and wide, and high

If you're sure someone else taught you to read, you'll be waiting for someone else to teach you to do other things. If you KNOW you learned to read on your own, you'll know deep down and wide and high that you can learn other things too.
from an old topic called "Lazy or realistic"
photo by Chris Sanders

Thursday, April 16, 2020

How you view life

"Unschooling is a way of viewing life as filled with choices, not 'have to's'."
—Pam Sorooshian

Find your options
photo by Rosie Dawn Todd

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Safe explorations

In unschooling families it's simple: we help our kids explore what interests them in ways that are safe.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Logic and Parenting
photo by Ida Marie Stenild Coltau

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Generosity, good will and good humor

About kids not helping with chores, in 2004 (are kids still that way!?):

I wrote:
If you're not really generous with them, they won't be likely to be really generous with you.
That mom responded:
I know this is true, but a lot of times it feels like I'm expected to have an unending supply of generosity, goodwill and good humor.
I think that should be your goal. If you're willing to not have help, then any help you have is more likely to be seen as a gift instead of not enough.
Joyce Fetteroll:
If our children help, we should treat it as a generous gift. (And the more we treat it as a generous gift, the more often they're likely to give.)

I like the set of parental gifts that mom came up with. If you are a parent, try to generate and maintain a generous supply of good will and good humor.

The original question and discussion,
and part 2 and then 3, if that's fun
photo by Jo Fielding

Monday, April 13, 2020

Honest, attentive and reliable

Quote & reply quote:

Trust is a more useful word. Over time, kids develop a sense of whether or not parents are trustworthy sources of information and assistance."
—Meredith Meredith

"Good point. And very often, parents 'demand respect' without any idea that they need to earn it. For a child to trust a parent, the parent needs to be worthy of trust—trustworthy. Trustable. Then after many years of being honest and attentive and reliable, the children will respect them. Because they're respectable."
—Sandra Dodd

The originals are here, a few comments down, in a brief, good discussion on facebook. De Flowers saved and shared the part above in 2014.
photo by Tessa Onderwater

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Help children smile

If something makes you feel safer, that's fair. It might be a song, a joke, a thought, a special t-shirt, comfort food, or a nightlight.

Even imagined safety or magical safety is better than fear, on an emotional level.

Help children smile.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of art by then-young Sophie McNeill,
in her third-floor bedroom in Baud, in France, when I stayed there

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Quitters sometimes win!

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

Maybe you can see how quitting what you don't want to do is a good thing.

I've quit lots of things, jobs, relationships, books, drugs, cigarettes, lots of things that weren't helpful, that weren't good for my life. Quitting them made room for other things. It also helped me to think about what I wanted to do. Some of the things I quit I went back to like photography or knitting, I quit knitting regularly. Others I've not yet returned to like smoking or working at a plastics factory.
Thoughts about finishing what you start
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, April 10, 2020

No exceptions

Parents should not think that unschoolers are exempt from any expectations of courtesy or etiquette.

The original is from "Food Rules", but this matches, too:


Thursday, April 9, 2020


Be dignified, if you want your children to respect you and to grow up to be dignified themselves. You cannot maintain your dignity and also embrace INdignity. Breathe and think of your children's need for peace so that unschooling can thrive in your home.
Indignation is not a virtue.
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Change a little

Without leaving your house, you can change the way you look at the world. You can change your relationship with your child and it will make both of your lives new. Sounds fruity, I'm guessing, but it's true.

The original quote said "daughter," and linked to this:
photo by Lori Taylor

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


"Don't borrow trouble," my granny used to say. Lately that comes to mind, in a good way.

There are things we can't control. There are things that are none of our business! About some things, sometimes, it's okay not to care. Let there be mysteries.

Parents with the ability to smile and to see the sky and to be grateful for local, familiar water and air are better for children than parents who are angry and complaining. Be a peaceful place for your children.

"How important is it?"
I took the photo, of a mystery unrelated to me in every possible way.
People in New Mexico neither need to be for nor against cane cartage.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Wide view and close-up

A closer photo of this gate might look more limiting than this distant view. There's no fence attached, past the low places on each side of the road. It will keep vehicles out, but not animals.

If you're feeling limited by something that doesn't really have a fence, it might be illuminating to look more closely at some of the construction, at the details. Things are different different places, and interesting.

To young children, things can be new even if they're the same old hardware, or view, or tree, or sky, to the adults. If you can see through a child's eyes, things might seem new again.

Seeing as a visitor or a tourist, in your imagination, will reveal another layer to your same-old, too. Even when you don't have visitors, you can think of what might be interesting to someone from another side of the world.

Your House as a Museum
photos by Sandra Dodd, visiting Queensland in 2014

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Shady shadows

Light makes art, by projections, reflections, animated shades, and shadows! It's beautiful, temporary and only costs the time it takes to remember to look for it.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Getting it

When people say "I read [whichever] webpage last year, but..." and I say "Read it again," I think they might think I'm accusing them of not having read it, but it's that after using the ideas a while, the description makes lots more sense.

Whatever it is we're learning—crochet patterns, musical notation, using crutches, building a fire, making cookies—hearing instructions (or reading them) makes VERY little sense at first. Later it makes more sense. But after trying it and figuring out some things for ourselves, and then going back and looking at the directions, they come to life, in color, and they make 3-D sense.

Read a little, try a little; wait a while, watch
art and photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, April 3, 2020

Just play

I've decided it's not so much the "what" that we do, but the attitude in which we do it. The whole wide world is open, just play and enjoy it.
"What (if anything) should I be doing to help..."
photo by Linda Malcor

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Being inside

If you can't go outside, look at the beauty inside. There are things you might have missed, if you didn't have time to sit and see.

Creating history
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Finding a social spot

Humans are social animals, and learn in mixed-age groups, when they learn naturally. A family can create that natural learning environment, or can fail to create it. :-/ Being around other people, though, IF AND WHEN a child wants to learn and is encouraged by parents to learn how to be considerate and sociable, can be a good place to learn "manners"—ways to behave politely.

In school, children are still social animals with the need to identify who might help them, and what their role is within the social structure. The social structure being unnaturally 20+ kids the same age, they figure out who are the leaders and the "young" and they act in accordance with their instincts in an unnatural setting. More adults to—teens, and young adults, and middle-aged, and elderly, behaving in natural real-world ways. TV is better for that than school is. Ideally, a rich unschooled life *IN* the real world is better than either.

photo by Julie D

I can't find where I wrote that, up there, but three people shared it in 2012,
and I still think it's true. —Sandra