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