Sunday, May 31, 2020

Positively add more things

Debbie Regan wrote:

In moving towards unschooling, I think it helps to *add* things rather than "eliminate" things. Adding is more likely to be positive—more flexible and open-ended. "Eliminating" is not many steps away from a rule, from rigidity. Yes chores / No chores. Both are rules—rules which intrude, regardless of what's really important.
—Debbie Regan

the original writing (longer)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Hundreds and thousands

Say "yes" hundreds of happy, surprising-to-the-kids times, about whether they can stay up a little later, or have another cookie, or visit the neighbors, or jump off the porch. Hearing "YES!" is a huge thrill to kids who have been told "no" thousands of times.

That advice is about how parent can move gradually toward unschooling,
rather than jump too quickly.
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Friday, May 29, 2020

Avoid thwarting.

Put your frustrated energy into a burst of mixing it up.

Unschooling can prove itself if it's not thwarted.

That was part of some advice I gave in 2003 to a mom whose husband "wasn't onboard," as people say.

"Unschooling can prove itself if it's not thwarted" wasn't suggesting her husband was thwarting it, but that passivity and a lack of sharing it with a spouse thwarts it.

I like the sound of the word "thwart."

Don't thwart unschooling by using it to divide the family. Move toward it methodically and thoughtfully. Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch. Note and share the results with your spouse. It can take a while to come to shared confidence, but don't fail to see it as a family-improving project.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 28, 2020


I love this photo of Karen Lundy's kitchen utensils, laid out artfully and photographed.
I like things. I like tools. The similarities and differences in things has always interested me—the patterns and departures, in objects, people, games, songs, foods, trees, and ideas.

Some people think "I have too many things." Some want things they don't have. Few think "I have the perfect number of things."

I miss things I used to have, sometimes. Attachments are not ideal, but things can be art, comfort, tools, toys, and portals to history, stories, science, exploration and possibilities.

Be at peace with things, when you can be.
photo by Karen Lundy

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Be positively positive!

Negativity is contagious and cancels out joy and hope. Some people are just casually negative without realizing it. Their first response to anything is likely to be derisive. It's like a disease, and they infect their friends and relatives. Eye rolling, tongue-clucking, dramatic sighs... It's emotional littering. Save them for emergencies.

Seeing and Avoiding Negativity
photo by Shonna Morgan

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

When water is love

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

I was at homeschool park day and someone's son asked to drink from his mom's water bottle - she said, "Sure have a sip." She said he'd do that often but it wasn't because he was thirsty, it was because it was his way of creating a quick and momentary reconnection with her. I saw that. There was a little moment there, for them. It was sweet. It had nothing to do with her drink or his thirst. She could have easily said, "Go get your own, you left it in the car," or something like that.

We often don't know, really, what it means to another person, especially our own child, for us to do some little thing for them and we never know what we've missed if by not doing something.
—Pam Sorooshian

I left out "just last week" from the quote above, because that child and parent are both seven years older. It is very likely that many things went better, in those seven years, because the mom was sweet to him early on.
photo by Mary Lewis

Monday, May 25, 2020

Give happily

"When you give, give as happily as you honestly can, and give with the receiver in mind more than yourself. That spirit shows, and is meaningful. The older your son gets, the more he'll see and understand and come to appreciate it."
—Karen James
photo by Jamie Parrish

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Listen, advise, love, laugh

Marina DeLuca-Howard wrote, regarding a teenager:

In the past when someone with a younger child in tow has asked for "the secret" to all this respect I seem to receive I notice they can't *hear* the answer. I gave a lot of respect, choices and did a lot of trusting. I didn't ignore him. I was the resource. I listened, advised, and loved and laughed and supported.
—Marina DeLuca-Howard

A teen boy out with his mom—what's "the secret"?
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Pause and appreciate

"Look for moments in the day that are good—especially the ordinary moments. Pause and appreciate them when you see them. Let them set the mood for how you move forward. Listen for pleasing sounds. A giggle. A child's breath. Your own heartbeat. Some music. Close your eyes, notice and appreciate those sounds. Find the ones that make you smile. Let your smile soften your mood."
—Karen James
Original quote from a post at Always Learning, November 26, 2015.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Friday, May 22, 2020

Pay more attention

Pay more attention to your own child than to what you've always heard. That might be enough. 🙂

From a discussion on Radical Unschooling Info in March, 2013
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Nicer and kinder

"If someone can take a moment to consciously be nicer and kinder to their children, a shift can take place. The choice to be nicer removes the choice to be mean. That can become a habit."
—Robin Bentley
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Moments of growth

Some moments seem more important than they are. Other moments are more important than they seem.

We can't guarantee or control much, in the world, so look for the good, and look for the growth.

A moment of peace and sweetness cannot be recreated. Perhaps new ones can be induced, though!
photo by Elaine Santana

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dabble and Play

When kids are playing games, musical instruments, with toys—any sort of play—it's good to remember that there is a range from just looking at the game pieces, or seeing how an instrument feels or sounds, all the way to longterm obsession.

Nowhere along that continuum is parental pressure helpful. Because you can't be sure what they're thinking or learning, try not to be thrilled or critical about the way they're playing.

What's Happening? (the problem with expectations)
photo by Sophie Larcher

Monday, May 18, 2020

Fear can fade

New unschoolers are often afraid. They're afraid to keep doing what they're doing; they're afraid to change. Sometimes to calm someone I have said "It's not like moving to Mars. You will still live in the same house. You'll still be sitting in that same chair."

Something that allayed my fears when I had babies still works years later. When I'm fearful or worried, it helps to smell the top of my child's head. If you find a natural opportunity to hold or hug or bend over your child, inhale the scent of his head, slowly. Don't worry if it's an unbathed eleven year old. Just do it with love and gratitude, and you might find yourself in that moment, touching your child gently, remembering who you are and where you are.

To help people step past and rise above their fears: Overcoming Fear

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Feel your thoughts

Read about why, and what others have seen.

Try it a little.

Don't expect her not to think you're crazy at first; wait a while.

Watch her reaction.

Feel your own thoughts.

Lay your fears out to dry in the air and sunshine.

Gradual Change
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Being that tree

He just wouldn't have blossomed in his own natural way if I had tried to make him be some sort of tree he wasn't. Trees grow from their seed. Acorns grow oak trees. Apple seeds grow apple trees. And sometimes parents think that by some sort of pruning, and you know, shaping, that they can change who their child is. But that's not being a good parent any more than planting trees and then not watering them, or letting the cat scratch them up, or whatever, is being a good arborist.

It's good to give them what they need, but to try to change them by withholding or shaming doesn't work any better for a child than it does for a tree.
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, May 15, 2020

Kinder, gentler ways

If a parent knows that she wants to be kinder, gentler, more positive, more nurturing, there are things that she can do—little changes she can make and decisions she can make—that lead her toward that, and "follow your heart" is not a good one.

When people say "Well, I just followed my heart," sometimes that didn't go to a really good place because they didn't have a picture of their child's feelings. Coming up with a plan to logically step, step, step-by-step away from the dark confusion of people's childhood memories, hidden ideas, frustrations, fears—stepping away from that into the light is a better thing to do. And eventually they may get so good at this 'being more positive' that it seems like they're following their heart. But it needs to be their new, improved, mindful heart.
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Practical and philosophical peace

I've learned to find peace, practically and philosophically.

I started to see my kids as humans learning important things in unique ways, and as people I wanted to be close to—instead of seeing them as little to-do lists for myself.

—Sarah Peshek

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Happy, calm and loving

"Don't bring all the scary, negative and dark stories from the internet into your home. It will make your home and your lives scary, negative and dark. The most important thing you can do for your children's health is to provide them with a happy, calm and loving home."
—Eva Witsel
photo by Colleen Prieto

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Creating and protecting peace

Peace precedes learning.

Peace is a pre-requisite for unschooling to start working. It doesn't need to be constant peace (and won't be) but it needs to be increasing peace, and the attempt and intent to create and protect more peace.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Monday, May 11, 2020

Natural patterns

There are patterns in nature. Things are naturally organized.

In humans, it's hard to tell "natural" from culture, language, tradition, institutions. Still, people grow naturally, and have instincts, and think and feel from inside. We learn things physically, and mentally.

Humans learn.

Children learn.

Natural Learning
photo by Cara Jones

Sunday, May 10, 2020

One more?

This is about love, and abundance, and trust-building. What would you pay, if you could buy love, abundance and trust?
If your kids ask for another one (potato, cookie, peanut butter sandwich) I think it's helpful if you just say "Sure!" and make another one, even if you don't think they'll finish it, even if you think they'll be too full or whatever. As long as they're not eating someone else's share (and even so, if the other person agrees), it's not a big deal. If they don't finish, save the leftover for someone else. If they do finish and they're "too full" that's how they'll learn their capacity (which will change anyway as they get older).

Moving Toward Less Control, Concerning Food
photo by Rachel Cooley Green

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Score some peace!

When there will be one winner and one loser, between a parent and child, between a husband and wife, between best friends, then both lose.
Partnerships and Teams in the Family
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Friday, May 8, 2020

Create calm

star-shaped cake

Demonizing food creates a demon. Being calm creates more calm.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 7, 2020


Some kids are afraid of the dark, but it's probably more likely that they're afraid to be alone in the dark.

Try not to leave them alone—emotionally, or physically.
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Conversations—have good ones!

Conversations with a parent are natural learning fodder. Natural learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum or in isolation. Those things aren’t so natural. 😊

In my experience, unschooling parents are more likely to say too much than not enough.

Written in a discussion, as a follow-up to a post called "Moonrise"
photo by Kirby Dodd

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

What I think

People are always asking me what I think. 🙂

I think if someone reads what's at Joyce's page, and mine, and if that seems true and useful, cool!

Those who read those things and think it's crazy, and can't begin to understand it, will miss out on a fantastic opportunity.

That's what I think.

From a 2006 discussion of the range of, and differentiation of, radical unschooling
photo by Nina Haley

Monday, May 4, 2020

Comfort, patience

When it's easy to be calm and patient, anyone can do it.

The special service to a child, and the evidence of growth in a parent, is learning to be more calm, for the child's sake. The real patience is finding a way to quiet one's hurry, to slow down to a child's pace, for a while.
photo by Elaine Santana

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Look closely

Look closely.

There are wonders at hand.

Look more closely
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, May 2, 2020

It depends

It's hard to explain unschooling, partly because the best answers are "it depends," followed by questions for the parents to consider while they're making their decisions.

It depends on time available, time of day, safety, resources, the effect on other people, need for food or rest, and other factors I can't think of right now.
. . . .
Getting unschooling is a process. There will be more to get once you're comfortable with the new understandings and behaviors.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, May 1, 2020

May Flowers

An American riddle:

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Ah, wait. It's one of those riddles that can only be spoken, and not written.

Well the answer is "Pilgrims," but if it were written the right way it would be "Mayflowers." There was only one ship called "The Mayflower," though, because that's why they were named, to tell them apart.

If you don't get that joke, that's okay. You probably know lots of jokes I wouldn't get, or that only work with a certain accent, or knowledge of local town names, or knowledge of two languages.

The more you know, the more jokes you can get!

To Get More Jokes or "Thinking and Learning and Bears"
photo by Janine Davies