Saturday, October 31, 2020

Cats and history and folklore

Before looking at any links, you might want to try to think of a dozen or more examples of people keeping, shunning, worshiping, fearing, singing about, imagining, or poetically dancing about, or as, cats. You probably won't need to look far.

Think beyond house cats to wild and jungly, crazy, cartoony, and alien-species-imagined cats.
Once you've thought up your own, you might check against other people's lists here:
Cats in Literature? It’s a Long Tail

Feline Good with Our Favorite Literary Cats

Here, Kitty, Kitty… 20+ Children’s Books That Are the Cat’s Meow

The Worship of Cats

15 of the Most Famous Cat Characters in Books
That title was changed to "15 Well Known Cats in the Bookish World," but they didn't change the original title in the code. Somehow, there were discussions and disagreements there. Perhaps it was about cartoons and films.

Cats in stories and songs (a Google search link)

scratch-art by Devyn Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 30, 2020

Spooky midway

I think the cure for spooky carnivals, fairgrounds, midways and amusement parks is to watch more Scooby-Doo.

The exception to this would be if one was never afraid of spooky abandoned amusement parks until Scooby-Doo instilled some fear.

As slightly-spooky, mostly-silly kid adventure, though, Scooby-Doo will bring up lots of connections, and probably make kids laugh.

Scooby-Doo has been mentioned so many times in unschooling discussions that I have a directory page for it: SandraDodd.scoobydoo
photo by Amy Milstein

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Being home

Sarah Anderson-Thimmes once wrote:

Turns out, we're all really happy staying home lately. We're enjoying our yard, cold as it's been. And we are really enjoying re-watching movies we've already seen, playing computer games and board games we haven't played in awhile, listening to books on tape, making lots of messes, cooking and rearranging furniture. I'm emailing to touch base with a community I don't have in real life, and my girls are playing with each other a lot. And arguing a little.
—Sarah Anderson-Thimmes

Sandra's 2020 comment:
Audio books and communicating online used to be different, but new terms don't change the activities. What is better now is there is more available, with photos, and music, and video! If people could unschool in the days of dial-up, and even before, you can do it now.

Seasons, Ebb and Flow—When Unschooling Comes to You
photo by Cass Kotrba

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In every moment

Caren Knox / dharmamamma, when her kids were young:

We learn through all five senses, frequently the sixth, and through connection with each other. We learn from books, from magazines, from movies and TV and You Tube Poop. We learn from Barbies, from guns and swords and Bionicles and Legos. We learn through talking, through watching and asking, or waiting. We learn through cooking, shopping, eating, eliminating. We learn from driving or riding the bus or walking or biking. We learn by listening to music, or playing an instrument or singing or banging a rhythm on the table. We learn through living, whatever life looks like that day, whether it's a trip to Discovery Place and the library or a day of not getting off the couch because we're so hooked by David Tennant as Dr. Who we watch all the episodes on the XBox.

There are as many ways to learn as there are... people. Multiplied by infinite ways to learn. Learning's not an event, it's in every moment.
—Caren Knox

How do they Learn?—Caren Knox
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Learning curves aren't smooth

Learning curves aren't smooth

There's a learning curve that I see with unschooled kids and that is that they seem to be ahead [of their peers in school] for the first few years and then there's a period of time, roughly from about nine to 12 years of age, when they can seem behind. And then after they are 12 or 13, zoom! They look ahead! They seem to be ahead again.

If families can make it through that rough hump of "Oh, my kid doesn't know anything. He doesn't have cursive, he doesn't know the times tables and he's 12 and starting to get whiskers,"... Because it's just before a lot of the kids in school are saying, "This is crazy. Why am I doing this?"

Learning Curve
photo by Amber Ivey

The quotes above are the beginning and end of something longer that's here:
The Learning Curve of Unschoolers

Monday, October 26, 2020

Sort through as you go

toy donkeys in a bin next to toy bison, in a storeEveryone can, should, sort through the bad examples and good examples around them and move choice by choice toward whatever their own images of "better" might be.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A solitary tree

The words and photo below are by Karen James. I would not have been able to find or write anything better to go with this beautiful photo than Karen's description of it on September 16.
The air was clear today, so the three of us went for a walk at one of our favourite spots. The guys walked ahead, while I meandered behind, finding things to photograph.

Whenever we walk at this particular place, I always look for this tree. It's alone at the top of a cliff, at the curve of the path that winds us eventually back to where we started.

I love its solitary presence.

I love its asymmetry, shaped, in part, by the strong winds coming off the ocean.

I love that it stands at a fork, with one path bending softly toward a return, and one leading to the edge of the cliff.

I love that I can see Ethan climbing and resting in it in my memory.

Today, I loved its hard shadows and blue backdrop because that meant the smoke had parted, at least for now. It looks beautiful in the mist too. It's a beautiful tree.

More by Karen James (photo, words, or both)
photo by Karen James

Saturday, October 24, 2020


Breathing is under-rated and under-utilized. Breathing can be the difference between anger and kindness. Live is all about breathing. Have a BETTER life, just this easily.

Beauty and Breathing

If you know who made this animation, please help me document that.
All I know is

Friday, October 23, 2020

RV, or home, or cabin...

Alex Arnott wrote:

Try to look at and accept them for being exactly who they are right now, not how you think they should be.

There is a whole world outside the RV AND a whole world inside their iPad. Whatever they choose, be there with them! It’s hard to truly be with another person when you’re wishing they were something else.
—Alex Arnott

on Unschooling Discussion 2020
"RV" stands for "recreational vehicle." They can be used for travel and for sleeping and living. In other places they might be called motorhomes, campervans or caravans. While I was looking, I found some new designs from India, and The Netherlands.

photo by Sarah S.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A better moment

"What I know for sure is that a sad or angry moment turned into a happy and playful one will always be better."
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Learning to listen

Kids can't figure out anything if there's someone hovering and saying "Ooooh, good!" and "yuck, horrible."
If they're not allowed to decide which foods appeal to them, and what then those foods do to their body, then those children don't learn to listen to their own bodies. And it's likely that at some point they will learn NOT to listen to their moms. Then they will be eating things the mom disapproves of, and those might be things they never would even have chosen if their mom hadn't been sorting food into sin and virtue, poison and health, in extreme and sometimes arbitrary, faddish or political ways.

Though I left a few phrases out, the original is here:
food control (problems with that)
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Learning much more

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Sometimes you will understand what your kids *could* be learning from something. Always they'll be learning much more, making connections with ideas that seems to have no relation to what they're doing, learning thousands of little bits about peripheral things like music, social interactions, history, math, who they are, who you are and so much much more.

—Joyce Fetteroll

Please read the whole post at Reassurance, on Always Learning
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, October 19, 2020

Hear this

"I found early on
     the less I talked
          the more I was heard."
—Karen James
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Something worth listening to

Robyn Coburn shared this story in 2006. That was fourteen years ago. Jayn turned 21 this week.

Recently I annoyed someone (stranger at a kid's birthday party) whose first question on hearing that we homeschool was "How do you get her to listen to you?" by instantly replying "I try to say something worth listening to."

I thought she meant listen in general. She got this look of utter irritation on her face and started on about what a discipline problem her 7yo son was and how much more difficult it would be to have to keep his attention on school subjects and make him work at home. What she was really asking was "How do you make your daughter do her work?"

The paradigms we live under are so broadly apart from the mainstream that even the language doesn't cross over—we use the same words and have different meanings.

Yet of all the children at the birthday party Jayn was the one who came up to me a couple of times just to give me a quick kiss and say what fun she was having.

You can read more by Robyn here: Robyn Coburn
and see some of the Barbie tableaux that Jayn was making in the days mentioned at Barbie in Romeo and Juliet

photo by Jayn Coburn, years ago

Saturday, October 17, 2020


old barn, corral and bathtub for a trough, northern New Mexico
Some antiques are never in a store or a museum. What others show you as old and valuable might be wonderful, but be on the lookout for other elderly objects, minding their own business without being fancy.

History lives in all of that.
photo by Sandra Dodd
(click for another angle, with mountains but no trough)

Friday, October 16, 2020


Music is so divine that people like to think of angels making it. The instrument pictured, with the cherub musicians, is named after the Greek goddess Calliope, one of the muses, a daughter of Zeus.

Two religions are involved already, in that 19th century steam-powered music machine. Also, it having been made in the late 19th century, it was an engineering situation involving the latest technologies. I couldn't decide whether to link this to Connections or to Mechanical Music, so here are both links. The green and flowery French Calliope down on that page is a video I made, and I went around the back to show the punch card that plays the particular song. The one pictured above works that way, too.

You can go exploring from home!

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The motion of their own spheres

Looking out at our offspring, they are aligned in a certain way from our perspective, but they're not paused and gazing back. They are in the full motion of their own harmonic and intersecting spheres, spinning ever further away from us, and we marvel to see the celestial show.
photo by Heather Booth, who wrote "My holiday window dream come true."

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


frost on grasses with a log fence and mountains behind

Life produces some fragile, fleeting things.

Cass Kotrba photographed frost so beautifully that you can see the individual ice crystals that formed on the grass, in northern Colorado.

Some people live where this doesn't happen.

You can click it for a larger image you can zoom in on better.
some other fleeting things
photo by Cass Kotrba

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

I do believe...

Here's a fairy door. That is clearly what it is.
Are fairies real? We all know that word, and there's that door.

"What aspect of some particular subject involves objective truth? What is folklore or mythology? What literature or fantasy has come about based on that subject or item? Consider dragons, or India, or snakes, or rainbows. Checklist Abe Lincoln, the discovery of fire, or the depths of Lake Superior. Plot WWII, Japan, electric guitars, or Egypt."

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers
photo by Rosie Todd

Monday, October 12, 2020

Restricting knowledge

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Many parents think they know their children. But the more they restrict, the less they know their children and the more they know how their children are under restrictions. Restrictions say I don't trust you. Restrictions say that thing is more powerful than you are. Restrictions give children reasons not to be trusted.
—Joyce Fetteroll

(the topic was video games)
photo by Lydia Koltai

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Your eyes can't see everything.

I think it helps to see it through the child's eyes to find out what they're enjoying about it rather than viewing it through our own eyes.
—Joyce Fetteroll
(the topic was video games)
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a roadrunner in the front yard

Saturday, October 10, 2020


Sometimes I "feel proud" of something my child has done, but it's too much ownership and I back down.

If I think of it as happy relief that I didn't prevent that success or achievement, then I can be a little proud of myself, and impressed with my offspring.

Maybe the best way I've found is to feel it as gratitude that I lived long enough to be able to see successes in my now-grown children. Gratitude is good. Joy is good.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 9, 2020

Let life entertain you

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

It's not that unschoolers ignore the difference between entertainment and education. It's that we come to see that it's a false division.

For educators, entertainment is a sugar coating that can be put on the important stuff to make it easier to get it in.

For unschoolers, that division doesn't make sense. For unschoolers the division is interested in and not (yet) interested in.

Engagement, joy, interest, fascination are all indications a child is making connections between ideas. Unschoolers come to realize that the connections are not just the important part of learning but the only real learning.

Reassurance, on Always Learning
photo by Elaine Santana

Thursday, October 8, 2020

A thousand times; better

Saying yes a thousand little times is better for everyone than one big confusing "Yes forever, don't care, OH WAIT! Take it back."
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

First, become confident

suspension bridge, from point of view of passenger

Confidence in unschooling can't come from other people's accounts. It can only come from seeing one's own children relaxing into learning effortlessly through play, conversations, observations, a rich life.

"Facing fears" sounds scary, intimidating and negative. Stepping toward learning is much more positive. Being with children is easy; they're already right there. Move toward them, instead of milling around with fears and vulnerability.

Sandra's response to someone asking about confidence
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Unschooling is living and seeing

Unschooling is living a rich life and letting learning drop into your lap and into your ears and mind while you laugh and listen to music and play games. Unschooling is seeing the magic in every day, and the joy in yourself and the people around you.

That's some 20th century writing, here:
Unschooling and other Marvels, by Sandra Dodd
photo by Caroline Lieber

Monday, October 5, 2020

Attentively, solidly, and well

DO IT. Do it attentively, solidly, and do it well. THEN you can relax. If you relax at the beginning and don't really become an unschooling parents of a thriving unschooling child, it can amount to confusion, frustration and neglect.
art by Robert and Robbie Prieto; photo by some Prieto or another

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Favorite things

My Favorite things about Unschooling
  • You can do it at home!
  • Your kids are there!
  • It makes all of life a peaceful learning lab.
girls decorating a cake, view from above
from a webpage older than
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Finding patterns

Look up. Trees? Clouds? Arches or ceiling joists? Textured ceiling?

Look down. Snow? Sand? Grass? Dirt? Concrete, tile or wood? Water, maybe, or carpet. (Both at once would be bad.)

Pretend to see your thoughts. Slow? Calm? Racing? Repetitive?

Different days are different ways. In a moment, it might be different. Find good patterns.

Patterns and Connections
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 2, 2020

Smiling about Smiling

Find something to smile about.

Beginners, aim for once per day—one extra smile.

More experienced unschoolers, raise that to several a day, and then once per hour.

Before long, you'll be smiling easily and more often than you could count.

You'll know you're significantly happier when just the thought of counting smiles will make you smile.
Sparkly Unschooling
photo by Karen James

Thursday, October 1, 2020

In their own natural ways

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

It is natural for people to learn—each in their own way. It is natural for children to want to understand the world around them. They also want to join the adult world and become competent and capable adults themselves. They'll strive for this in their own natural ways. Unschooling parents work on creating a home environment that supports their children's natural desire to learn and grow.

Each child is unique and experiences the world in a different way than any other person and expresses themselves in ways that are different from every other person.

—Pam Sorooshian

I LIVE THEREFORE I LEARN: Living an Unschooling Life
photo by Colleen Prieto