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

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