Monday, May 31, 2021

Swirling and wonderful

Pam Sorooshian described what she called "a very basic tenet of unschooling":

Surround the child with a swirling, wonderful, exciting, stimulating and rich environment and the child is naturally capable of learning from it.
—Pam Sorooshian
The quote is from my page on "Talking to Babies," but a better next read is the list of Principles of Unschooling by Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of unschooled siblings in Queensland

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Beauty and options

I want to present a portal to a beautiful piece of writing by Robyn that all unschoolers might want to read (or re-read) called "The Beautiful Park". I won't quote from it, because anything said is a spoiler. It is experienced anew each time it is read.

I will quote from something I saved as "Robyn Coburn on Giving Children Options":

"The idea of Unschooling is for parents to be the facilitators of options, the openers of doors, the creators of environments of freedom, and the guardians of choice, not the installers of roadblocks and barriers."
—Robyn Coburn

more by Robyn Coburn
photo by Karen James

Friday, May 28, 2021

A natural part of the world

In the midst of some bad ideas, someone contributed this to an unschooling discussion once: "Children (under the age of five) are like scientists from an alien world."

I responded:
No, they are natural parts of their OWN world.

Robyn Coburn mediated with: "I believe the visiting alien idea, is one that is mostly useful as an aid to assist impatient or pushy parents (probably not Unschoolers) to be more compassionate—an analogy rather than a true metaphor. One thing that seems to unite Unschoolers is acceptance of their children's individual timetables."

Talking to Babies
photo by Julie D

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Interesting, loving

Each child, in the moment, doing something interesting in the presence of a loving parent... that works the same for anyone.

Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary
Marta Venturini saved this and quoted me in 2012.
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

You never know

This came up during a card game, but it seems applicable to all of life:
What you should always know is "You never know."
photo by Renee Cabatic

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The easy way?

Q: Is unschooling the path of least resistance?

A: It depends what you're trying to resist.

Deschooling for Parents
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 24, 2021

The benefit of untangling

Any parent with unresolved childhood trauma might want to gradually start untangling those memories for the benefit of your children, of yourself, of your partner, of your family, and in order for unschooling to work well.


photo by Alex Polikowsky

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Don't fear sweetness

"I was wondering what you ladies think about food..." wrote someone, one time.

I responded, in part:
There are men here, too.

What I think is that every bit of energy and thought spent on anything other than your own child(ren) takes away from your time with them. What I know for absolute certain is that a calm, accepting mother is better for life and learning than a fearful, controlling mother ready to yank things away and yell and give up friendships over sweets or snacks.

The Full Plate Club
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Questioning and learning

Pam Laricchia said:

I recall when I was beginning unschooling, my days were typically a mix of learning about how natural learning works and starting to question a lot of the conventional wisdom I’d absorbed growing up. There are many ways that preconceived ideas and prejudices can limit people’s thinking and get in the way of moving to unschooling...
—Pam Laricchia

Changes in Parents with Sandra Dodd
photo by Karen James, of her own art (process and progress)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

You can't see everything

You can't see everything.

You can't be everything.

Limitations are real, and some limitations are time, patience, focus, knowledge, weather, health...

Knowing you can't be perfect, be better than you would have been if you were not aiming to be a better parent, better partner, and better person.

You can't see everything, but you can slow down and try to see more.

Thoughts about doing better
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Funding future learning

If a child isn't interested in college, the parents shouldn't do the happy "we won't have to pay for college!" dance without considering whether there are other ways a portion of that college savings or loan potential could be applied to helping the child toward learning and experiences they couldn't have partaken in as younger children, and which might also lead to a career.

If your child wants a camera or art supplies, a musical instrument or skis or a better computer, don't see it as a toy, but as a tool and as an entrée into a community of people from whom they can learn more.

from the "Interesting Alternatives to College" section of
The Big Book of Unschooling, page 304 (263 of first edition)
photo by Chelsea Thurman

Monday, May 17, 2021

A better direction

Is the cup half empty, half full, defective or overflowing?

One mindful step in a better direction can be joyous. You don't need to reach a destination to have joy.

The Big Book of Unschooling
page 318 (or 275, if it's yellow)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Light and shadow

Shadows can be fun to play with, and to notice. I've always liked it if a bird or an airplane made a shadow on me.

Be a light, when you can be. Practice thinking about what you might be overshadowing.

If you're in the desert, remember that it can be courteous to stand where you will shade someone who's tired or overheated, or is trying to read something.

Be a courteous light.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Ever-changing opportunities

Each little experience, every idea, is helping your child build his internal model of the universe. He will not have the government-recommended blueprint for the internal model of the universe, which can look surprisingly like a school, and a political science class, a small flat map of the huge spherical world, a job with increasing vacations leading to retirement, and not a lot more.

Unschooled children can organize their knowledge in free and better ways. They never need to feel they are through learning, or past the point that they can begin something new. Each thing they discover can be useful eventually. If we help provide them with ever-changing opportunities to see, hear, smell, taste, feel, move and discuss, what they know will exceed in breadth and depth what any school's curriculum would have covered. It won't be the same set of materials—it will be clearer and larger but different.
Seeing It
photo by Catherine Hassall

Friday, May 14, 2021

Math and logic over superstition

The more you give them the less they need.

Messages about deprivation are in most people's heads, passed down from parents and grandparents. I was told once, "You need to frustrate them."

No, that was NOT a need I had.

Be gentle and sweet and kind and attentive. Your child benefits, the relationship is stronger, and it makes the parent a better person.

photo by Kinsey Norris

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Do it; be it

Some unschooling parents talk too much to their children about unschooling.
Just DO it, don't talk it. Be it.
Just Do it. ●  Don't talk it. ●  Be it.

photo by Sarah Dickinson, of a Kitty Letter game in progress

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Thoughtful and sweet

What you think you "have to" do makes you powerless and frustrated. What you choose to do is empowering, and should be done thoughtfully and sweetly.
looking up into sunshine through a forest of Australian Tree Fern
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Deciding what to do

Stop doing the thing that stops you from doing what you need to do.
—Sandra Dodd

Prioritize your children.
—Holly Dodd
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, May 10, 2021

Happy, positive and helpful

Deb Lewis wrote, of Scooby Doo:

Freddy, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scoob genuinely care about each other, trust each other....

They handle tough situations with humor. That might inspire someone to think about the value of a happy and positive attitude.

They help people who need help.
The people who need help ask for it.
These are good things.
—Deb Lewis

In Defense of Cartoons
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Seeing things

Sometimes, just look.

You might look as an artist, or as a scientist. You could look in wonder. You could gaze lovingy, or observe suspiciously, but as you don't always know exactly what you're seeing, sometimes it's good to just look.
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Peaceful Sleep

Sleep is crucial and peace is good.

We don't know what experiences and ideas our children are processing, but the more often they go to sleep gently and wake up sweetly, the better their lives will be.

photo by Lydia Koltai

This photo was used here a few years ago. Some of the most beautiful photos in this blog are also by Lydia Koltai. See more.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Sharing intangibles

old English door with wreath
Abundance in one person provides benefits for others. A child with all the trust he needs can trust others. A child with all the time he needs can share that time with others. One who has freedom won't begrudge freedom in others.

How to Raise a Respected Child
photo by Kelly Drewery

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Be prepared for more or less

Go gradually. Read some, do some, read some more, do some more; repeat.

If you find yourself tempted to present a lesson, or to teach, feel that feeling and refrain from it. If your child asks a question, just answer the question. Answer it in an interesting way if you can. Look it up if you need to. Don't turn it into "a lesson."

If a child asks a question he might ask another one. Be prepared for one question to turn into fifteen of them. Be prepared for it not to.

from "Beginning to Unschool," page 36 or 39 of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Lighten your child's life

The more lightly you live, the lighter your children's lives will be.

Live lightly, in various ways
photo by Nina Haley

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Only a child?

"Respect" is not a light thing. It's not easy to respect your child, when it's new to you. There will be people encouraging you to see your child as "just a kid," and "only a child." Think of adults you respect, and think of them as ten years old, four years old, two, newborn. They were those people from birth. There was a newborn Mohandas Gandhi; a four-year-old Abraham Lincoln; an eight-year-old Oprah Winfrey; a twelve-year-old Winston Churchill.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hopefulness, good and true

Probably [doubters and critics] are sincerely concerned for your children, so try to be grateful for that, or at least to understand it.
. . . .

The nicest thing to say might be "Thanks, I'll think about it." If they say he might need some type of school, you could say yeah, someday he might. I liked to tell people that things were going well, but if that changed we would do something different. That gave them hope, and that was good for all of us. And it was true.

What Can I Say to Doubters and Critics?
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Abundance and gratitude

"If it's not one thing, it's another."

People usually say that of problems or frustrations. But what about gourds, and little girls, and music, and humor?

If you practice finding abundance, if it's not one thing, it will be another.

photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Better Things

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