Sunday, July 3, 2022

Peace and love and food

Without choices, they can't make choices. Without choices they can't make good choices OR bad choices. In too many people's minds, "good" is eating what parents say when parents say (where and how and why parents say). That doesn't promote thought, self awareness, good judgment or any other good thing.

Food is for health and sustenance. Eating with other people can be a social situation, ranging (on the good end) from ceremonial to obligatory to courtesy. There's no sense making it hostile or punitive.

Food Choices (and lots of them)
photo by Sarah S.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

People they trust

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

The best way for introverts to learn to socialize is with the people they're comfortable with: their family. And then whatever friends they feel comfortable with.

Then when they're older and their desire to get something from a group is greater than their discomfort of being in a group, they'll have the skills they picked up from people they trust.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, July 1, 2022

Variable speed

Sometimes it's good to rush along a trail. Other days, even a slow stroll might be too much.

It's okay not to follow every trail you see, and it's fine to look at a photo of a path and use your imagination, without going anywhere.

There will be paths, options, and surprise destinations all along the way.
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Self-defending ideas

I wish I could tell everyone that if there's some part of Sandra's site they think they "don't need" to read, READ IT FIRST. Read it twice.

Your bad ideas are trying to defend themselves by tricking you.
—Virginia Warren

How to read
photo by Cass Kotrba

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


OOPS! I'm so sorry an unfinished post went out! I'll finish it for tomorrow.

Here are some pictures of cats (click for more!)


A bit magical

Moments of quiet focus, and photo evidence of those, are both a bit magical.
photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Special effects

Art made of light and shadow—look for it at your house, in stores, restaurants, in friends' houses, too!
photo by Sarah S.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Rainbows and shooting stars

Though I've seen some beautiful rainbows, and some doubles, I have missed more than I've seen. That can't be helped.

If I planned in advance to show someone else a rainbow, I couldn't guarantee a sighting.

Friends travelled from New Mexico to Finland to see Northern Lights, and failed to spot any.

Even during meteor shower times, you might miss them all.

And so?

Consider each sighting a blessing and a tiny miracle. Count the things you saw, and not the things you missed.
photo by Theresa Larson

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Clean and clear

For unschooling to work, the relationship of the parent to the child needs to become so clean and clear that the parent is being, and not just acting. This might involve physical posture, but also thoughts and feelings, reactions and clarity.

Posture (or the earlier original Posture)
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Safe, busy and happy

Be with your kids and make sure their lives are safe and busy and happy.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, June 24, 2022


We are here now.

We have been other places in the past.

We will be in surprising places in the future.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Freedom and approval

When we're tempted to say "no," and we have that little internal conversation about "Why not?" that can be healing. When I'm there, I think of my mom saying no, and then I picture her having been open enough to say yes more, and I picture my childhood self having a thrill of freedom and approval. There was some freedom, and some approval, but I can imagine up a lot more of it, and shower it on my children.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Be with your child

Jenny Cyphers wrote, of a parent getting up and going to do something with or for a child:

It feels infinitely better for my spirit when I do that too. It's easy to get caught up in one's own self thought. If I let a day go by, or hours, in that mode, at the end of the day, I find myself thinking that I should've, would've, could've, and once again, I'm in that mode. To just go and be with my kids as soon as I recognize that mindset, I avoid all the guilty afterthoughts of what I should have done better. So, I not only avoid the guilt complex, I get to relive all the fun and wonderful moments that I intentionally sought after.

It seems that unschooling, for me, is a compilation of all those moments of being with my kids instead of doing something else. It's fun to go out of your way to do cool things with your kids and seek out opportunities, but the real stuff seems to happen in those moments that could just go by within each and every day.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sandra Dodd, at Alex Polikowsky's farm

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Parenting reflects back

It's a gift to have children to help us have an excuse to have a sort of do-over on behalf of our moms.

For me, it seems like a gift to me and my mom both, if I can do better than she did. She would have liked to have done better, too, so I can do it for her.

I get some healing benefit either way.
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, June 20, 2022

The sun will be there

I usually forget to look at the sunset, but sometimes I notice the change of light, out the window from where I'm sitting.

Sometimes a sunrise or a sunset is beautiful, but why? The symbolism varies. The colors might be different, and the effect won't be the same on different individuals, but it is the same old sun.

Let it soothe you and give you hope, when you happen to see those changes of colors and light as the sun appears, or as your part of the world starts to pass into darkness, just until morning. Take a breath and be grateful. Be grateful for the breath, for the gratitude, for being.
photo by Theresa Larson

Sunday, June 19, 2022

On-the-job learning

Life. People can live lives, even little kids live lives, without preparation, learning on the job, as they go. They can learn while doing real things with real happiness and real success.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Being nicer

The further I got from cynicism and pessimism, the more they jumped out at me when I heard them.

It's easy to be mean.
It's harder to be nice.
Moments and Mindfulness
photo by Keith Dodd

Friday, June 17, 2022

Our touchstone was learning.

Our touchstone was learning. Learning happens. We looked for new experiences for our kids, when we could. We didn't have much money when they were little, but there were free things to do in our city, and fun things to do at our house.

Peace and fun and learning, in various permutations, got us a long way.

Learning happens.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Slowly and sweetly

Sudden change confuses kids, they don't trust it, they assume it's temporary, and so their behavior reflects that. And it robs parents of the joy of gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more. You could have said "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, and the gradual change would have been a joy.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Be a soft place

We wanted to protect them from trauma and frustration. That's not always possible, but it was a goal. We tried not to be the source of trauma and frustration.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Patient and loving

Radical unschooling works the same way for every child. Pay attention to what he's interested in. Don't force things. Find interesting items and situations, be patient and loving, and learning will happen. The more it happens, the more it will continue to happen.

Learning will happen
photo by Karen James

Monday, June 13, 2022

Points for your team

Points can be gained for your partnership, by what you do today, and the way you do it, and the thoughts you have while your child is so near. Contribute to the bank of good memories. Be present, and good.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, June 12, 2022


Parenting can seem repetitive, but the parents can be getting better at it, stronger, more determined, as they get chances to do better than before.

Food, clothes, the car, beds, baths, hair, shoes, over and over and over?

Try to think of each time as just *this* time. Be kind, generous, and sweet, knowing that you are making up for some other moment when you were maybe cranky or distracted.
photo by Sandra Dodd, a carousel in Minnesota

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Choices, priorities and locations

Laying "have to" on our kids, or on ourselves or on outsiders is less useful and healthy than looking at rights and choices and priorities and locations.

Can you jump on the bed?

Depends whose bed, which bed, where, when. Is someone sleeping? Is it an antique? Who owns this bed?
(original, in a discussion on facebook)
photo by some realtor, once,
in a house that's now Holly Dodd's

Friday, June 10, 2022

Discover and do and be

"Conventional wisdom" (those truisms that too-often aren't true) says "children need limits," and that good parents have lots of limits (the more limits the better the parent). We've all seen (and some have been in) families where stifling limits caused the very problems they were expected to prevent. But without a counter-mantra to "children need limits" it's easy for parents to fear that it must be true or people wouldn't keep saying it.

If by "limits" people mean "safe boundaries," sure! If by "limits" people mean "someone to watch and care," absolutely! But what people usually mean by "limits" is parents who say "no / don't / stop / forget it / when you're older."

When unschoolers discuss limits they're often discussing arbitrary limits, trumped up to make the parents feel good, or used as magical talismans to guarantee that their children will be creative, healthy and safe. What creates much more magic is to help children discover and do and be.
photo by Brittany Lee Moffatt

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Small changes

Each person knows when she's happier and when she wishes things were a little better. If small changes of attitude can make more happy moments than before, that benefits everyone involved.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Learn to see everything!

"How will they learn everything they need to know?"
Do the best of the high school graduates know everything they need to know? No, and at some point, ideally, they start learning on their own. Some fail to get to that point, though. Unschooled kids have a head start. They know how to find what they need to know, and they have not been trained to ignore things that won't be on the test.

When parents see how and what their children are actually learning instead of just scanning for the half dozen school-things, unschooling will make sense to the parents. If you wait for school to congeal from a busy life, you'll keep being disappointed. If you learn to see everything instead of just school things, unschooling will start working for you. When you see it you will believe it.
photo by Ashlee Junker

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

*Be* with your children

Rippy wrote:

I learn every day how to have a better partnership with my children and spouse, how to connect, inspire, trust and help. And now that I have learned how to read without my emotions interpreting the emails for me, the message is consistently the same - be loving, gentle and sweet with your children, *be* with your children, live joyfully.
Learning to read [about Unschooling]
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, June 6, 2022

Lifelong learning from TV and video

Respect your children's interests and viewing. Think of your own childhood memories.

Calling something crap has never given anyone joy, but Bob the Builder has.

photo by Meredith Dew

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Love, overflowing

Karen James wrote:

Attachment parenting, then unschooling, showed me that I'm a better person than I ever believed. I'm capable of compassion I didn't know existed. I have a sense of humour that isn't belittling or unkind, but can bring relief to uncomfortable situations. I have so much love for Doug and Ethan, that it has begun to overflow and fill my own cup. My world is hopeful, even in difficult times. I still struggle a fair amount with inner critics, but I'm learning. And, I've learned, I love learning.
—Karen James

There is more at
photo by Karen James

Saturday, June 4, 2022


You know the game of finding something in which other players will say, "You're getting warm," or "You're getting cold"? You need to get warmer and nearer and closer. You don't need absolute peace; you need more peace. You don't need to live in perpetual peace; you need to live with more peace.
photo by Amber Ivey

Friday, June 3, 2022

Life as Show-and-Tell

People with collections have collections of stories. Objects have origins, and connections. If you ask people about their things, they will tell you stories about themselves.
Most people think of "exploring" as going to new places, but exploring ideas, music, foods, games and each other's experiences and stories, within a family or group of friends, creates an environment of learning.

The first paragraph is new today.
The second paragraph is here.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Subtle wonders

In deserts, forests, under houses, in puddles, plants and creatures live lives. Sometimes we see a bit of it, but they're not doing it for us.

From playing, daydreaming, looking at images, or thinking about how new things feel or smell, children live lives of learning. Sometimes we might catch a glimpse, but they're not doing it for us.
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Small, simple steps

There are people whose lives have been transformed because they wanted good relationships with their children and they took small, simple steps to get there. (Thoughts on Changing) (How Unschooling Changes People) (Unschooling: Getting It)
Those three pages are an impressive collection of the powerful difference a deep understanding of unschooling, and its practice in a home, can make to parents as individuals.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

No matter how old

For a parent who didn't know about attachment parenting early on, those things can be compensated for by being gentler to older children, and patient, and loving.

For those who were gentle and attentive to babies as people, remember that your child, no matter how old, is still that same person who trusted you the first days and weeks and months.

It's easy to forget, and to be impatient and critical. It happens at my house. It can be ever easier to remember, with practice and focus, to choose quiet and soft, still.

A Quiet Soft Place
photo by Julie D

Monday, May 30, 2022

Quiet and still

There are seasons and reasons that can disturb sleep and peace. Find moments of beauty and of calm, of stillness and dark, when you can breathe more deeply, speak more softly, and rest.

Five minutes of calm and of gratitude can reset your soul.

When you breathe
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Live, play, explore, enjoy

Colleen Prieto wrote:

I do my best to make sure my son is undamaged. I was told when I was a child “you haven’t earned happy yet – talk to me when you’re my age – when you’re my age we’ll talk.”

I don’t think kids should have to earn happy when there’s the opportunity to let them live every day, out in the world (not in a classroom), making their own choices without guilt and shame, enjoying today instead of spending every today preparing for tomorrow as if today’s not good enough and tomorrow’s the only thing that counts.

I wish more people could see that (to me anyway) that’s what unschooling does. It lets kids live. And play. And explore. And enjoy. It lets them live like they don’t need to earn happy.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, May 27, 2022

Learning while laughing

People learn by playing, thinking and amazing themselves. They learn while they're laughing at something surprising, and they learn while they're wondering "What the heck is this!?"

Amusing confusion
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Detours and side trips

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Unschooling is sort of "messy" in that there isn't a "plan" and kids can often go in one direction for a while and then seem to come to a dead end and turn around and go off in another direction. It isn't like a kid who studies certain high school subjects—a couple of years of science, four years of English, a year of American History, and so on—and then goes on to sort of do that same thing in college—follow a predetermined path. Unschooled kids often "meander" in their lives. They proceed in fits and starts. They detour. But those side trips can turn into their main life's journey when you least expect it. 🙂 And they all add up to make the child into the person they are becoming.
—Pam Sorooshian

Games...Rich Life
photo by Sarah S.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Focus on the positive

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

People who look at what they have and how they can work with it find the ways quicker (and are happier) than those who look at what they don't have. That sounds harsh but it's true for everyone, regardless of how fortunate someone feels someone else must be. It's not easy! It's a *choice* to focus on the positive—a choice one often needs to remember to make repeatedly—because the alternative gets in the way of moving toward something better.

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Find ideas you like

Find ideas you like, but remember that all parenting happens at your house, not online, not in groups, but within the parent. Your relationship with your child doesn't need to be approved by strangers. It needs to be the best you can do with your child, yourself, at your house. If you need ideas, the world is overflowing with good ones, and bad ones.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 23, 2022

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

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Happy health

"Happiness is good for health! If something that makes a kid happy is deemed unhealthy by a parent, it will create stress and division. That kind of stress is NOT healthy. That kind of division works against the kind of relationship between parent and child that makes unschooling awesome!"
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sarah S.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Really unschooling

Gradually, steadily, consider what might be better, how you would like to be, and what you have learned will help.

Be in the immediate presence of your own child, with the awareness and knowledge you can use to make that moment better.

The kinder thing, the better thing
photo by Nina Haley

Friday, May 20, 2022

Ease, joy, and sparkle

"Unschooling, for me, works better as a practice and less well as an identity. I can always get close, understand the problem better, and lean on unschooling principles to find more ease, joy, and sparkle."
—Tara Joe Farrell
photo by Cátia Maciel (her camera, anyway)