Friday, September 30, 2022

Now, without waiting

If someone's thinking "we will be happier when..." it's worth remembering that there are ways to be happier now, without waiting.
photo by Chelsea Thurman

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Playing, hanging out, listening

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

You start by learning about your children. You start by playing with them. By hanging out and listening to them. By starting with them. The more you know about them, the more you know about what interests them, the more you see them and hang out with them, the easier it will be for you to find things that interest them. Don't start by looking at the wider world and trying to force it upon your children. Start with them.
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Partners, not adversaries

If you can start dismantling all the adversarial parts of your relationships, there won't be things to complain about. Neither you nor your children will be complaining.
photo by Nina Haley

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Learning and experiencing

Parents can't guarantee safety and health for their children. And unschooling is about learning and about experiencing the world, not about living to be 100 instead of 95.
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Monday, September 26, 2022

Attractions and fears

[Warnings can become attractions.]

It seems what will cause a kid to watch a show he doesn't want to watch is parental disapproval. If he's been told it's too scary, too adult, or forbidden, his natural curiosity might cause him to want to learn WHY. My kids, with the freedom to turn things on or off, turned LOTS of things off, or colored or did Lego or played with dolls or action figures during "the boring parts" (often happening to be the adult parts—what did they care?) and only looked back up when happy music or light or dogs or kids got their attention again.
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Health and happiness

"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 Sylvia Woodman

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Sleeping in shifts

From a page with notes, links and thoughts about the history of human sleep and what might be natural, Sandra's words:

I like the sentinal theory. I’ve often thought that teenagers’ propensity to stay up late might have been very useful in “the old days” (caves, camps or castles) because they could keep watch while they talked to each other. And their sleeping in the daytime while others are awake is seen as sloth in modern days by too many people, but I think as long as they get sleep, it shouldn’t matter so much what time it is.

What about sleep? sleep in history and culture
photo by Sandra Dodd (and it's a link)

Friday, September 23, 2022

An abundance of comfortable choices

Sandra Dodd, writing with newly-adult kids, two of whom were still at home:

I didn't expect so much contentment. And my kids are not staying home because they have to. And they're not going to school or working because they have to. We're all reaping what we sowed, without knowing it would turn into such an abundance of comfortable choices.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Being transformed

[There is something interesting] at the crux of the difference between being an unschooler and being however we all used to be before. We had this expectation of how we might be with our children, or how we might be with our spouses, our friends, or neighbors, or roommates. And then something big starts to change. And our attitudes change. And our "being ourselves" changes.
snow angel photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Rules and touchstones

People like rules and touchstones and proofs and flags to wave. I think 'the rule' should be 'think,' and the touchstone should be a child's head, touched gently.
photo by Sarah S.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The big difference

The best function of the school in my head, as it turns out, is to remind me where not to dwell. I did my time in and around school, and learned things painstakingly and grudgingly that my children later learned while laughing and playing and singing.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, September 19, 2022


Love this! Years later I'm learning about things I thought I hated (science & math come to mind immediately) alongside my kids while laughing, playing and being amazed. 🙂

The amazement is the magical-transformation stuff! 🙂

The quotes above are from comments on this post: Happy Choices
photo by Eleanor Chong

Sunday, September 18, 2022


Some people can't leave school because they're carrying it around like a snail and his shell. They live there, still. School became an ingrown, hard part of them. They still define themselves by their school failures and successes.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Pretending to think could turn to...

Once a mom was being argumentative and defensive. She deleted a long discussion out of spite or frustration, but some of us rescued it. Here's a peek (some of my response), and a link.
Pretending to think about suggestions for a few days before rejecting them would be more courteous, and you *might* find that pretending to think about something could turn to actually considering it.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

Teeth, April 2017, many voices
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Ester Siroky's kitchen window view, years ago

Friday, September 16, 2022

Easy learning

Everything counts, and every connection made increases the depth and breadth of the map of the universe each person is building. It makes it easier to learn the next few things, because there are more places to hook the knowledge.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Realizing you have a choice

I accidentally deleted a post, and am replacing it. I also fixed a typo. It might go out by e-mail again, and I'm sorry! At least you have a photo of me dressed as a tree, and I hope that will make you feel better. —Sandra
A mom named Cat wrote:

There seem to be some people in the world who do not believe that they have choices—instead feeling that there are some number of things that they *have* to do. (And that their children will *have* to do).

The same people seem to me to tend not to think of "joy" as a sufficient goal, either—maybe the two attitudes are related?

Maybe until people realize that they CAN choose, they are already constrained and stopped—without even the benefit of having made the conscious choice to stop. I am coming to think that realizing that *one has a choice* a necessary prerequisite to ever "getting it" about radical unschooling.
photo by photo by Ravi B., of Hema and Sandra

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rearview Mirrors

We have been somewhere, even as we're moving forward.

It's not good to always look back, but there is safety and comfort in reviewing what's already been seen and done. Very often, connections among the past, present and future create and enrich moments, special days, laughter and learning.

Rearview Mirror Views
photo by Renee Biggerstaff

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Peace and comfort

The imagery and analogy of "path" and "bridge" are helpful, in looking at parenting, and at the way time passes as life continues. We are "on a journey" with our children, even if we're staying in the same house, in the same town.

Deciding which way to go, which path to take, is a good way to look at the many little choices parents make all the time, about how to respond, what tone to use, remembering to have a soft face and a smile, so the child can be calm and feel loved.

Sometimes a path might seem scary, but if you're there with your child, you can provide peace and comfort.
photo by Jihong Tang

Monday, September 12, 2022

A hundred times

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 growth from gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more.

If a parent says "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, the gradual change can be a joy for everyone.

"Too Far, Too Fast":
(I changed the original slightly, for focus and flow.)
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Ideas and energy and fun

Joyce Fetterol wrote:

One of the factors that drew me to homeschooling rather than public schooling was that I thought learning should be fun. But only the unschoolers were focusing on fun and having positive relationships with their kids.

Much of the other forums were devoted to how to make kids do their work, what products were best, what to do with younger kids while older ones did their work.
Pam Sorooshian responded:

This got me thinking, Joyce. Because I found unschooling the same way, just looking for homeschooling information and discovered that the message boards where the unschoolers were talking were the ones that got my heart racing because they were so alive and sparkly with ideas and energy and fun and love of their children.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Limits are limiting!

I have heard of, read about and communicated with people who referred to themselves as part-time unschoolers, relaxed homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, academic unschoolers and other terms.
. . . .
Limited kinds of unschooling will have limited benefits.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 41 (or try 45)
which leads in to
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 9, 2022

Quietly quiet

Unschooling takes a long time to learn. Rushing a child to understand something complicated while the parent isn’t even looking in the right direction to see unschooling is a problem that’s easily solved. Stop pressuring the child. Stop “communicating” the confusion. Quietly empty yourself of much of what you think you know. If it were working, there would’ve been no reason to ask us for help.

With a mind open to change, then, go here: Read a little...

Children need time to heal. Quiet time is probably better than constant noise, no matter how much the noise is intended to express love and reassurance.
photo by Hinano

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Understanding wonderful things

One of the wonderful things about unschooling is that we come to understand that children are learning all the time. Knowing that, we can make thoughtful choices about how we'd like to influence that learning. We cannot control what is learned, but we can create an environment in which joyful learning can thrive.
photo by Sarah S.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Having a good life

Some days, some moments I am overwhelmed by just how fantastic my life is and how supportive my husband is. David is absolutely wonderful.

...we simply loved each other as we do most days. And we gave to Simon and Linnaea and we gave to each other and it was good.

I love that my sacred and my profane, my everyday and my for special occasions is one and the same. I hope all of y'all are having a good life. I hope the small things that infuse your day with joy come together and weave a tapestry of rich and royal hue.
—Schuyler Waynforth

halfway down
(I left out the stories and shared the mushy parts.)
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Customized, thoughtful choices

When you make the smallest of choices about what to do, say or think concerning your child, base it on your own child, in that moment. Think anew each time.

There is a danger in living an entirely reactionary life. If you do everything the opposite of what your mom did, it's as bad as doing exactly what your mom did without knowing why. Be discriminating and thoughtful. Don't chuck the ghost of the baby you were out with the bathwater of your emotional memories.

The second paragraph is from

Holly took the photo. I don't who is holding that flower,
but I know that that moment and that flower are long gone.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Creation (by accident)

You can create more resentment by trying to prevent all resentment.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 4, 2022


We have a compost pile, and it's kind of amazing how it seems at first that the food and leaves and sticks and banana peels and dog poop will never do anything but sit there looking like garbage, but when I stop watching it, it turns to solid black, rich dirt! I can't find any parts of the elements of which it's made. It's kind of like that with my kids. It took me a few years to quit watching them and trust that it would compost.

It did.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Sometimes, wait.

Sometimes attending to someone means giving them space and quiet and waiting until they have rested or calmed down or thought about what they want to say before you press them to listen or speak. Inattentive parents miss those cues sometimes.

from page 65 (or 70) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 2, 2022

Future memories

"Remind yourself that each moment we're creating memories. Think of those moments as photos in a photo album. We have no control over which pictures they'll keep. Ask yourself, 'Is this a moment I want my children to carry with them forever? Is this how I want them to remember me?'"
—Joyce Fetteroll

Techniques for Change at Joyce's site
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Following happily

There's great peace and beauty in a child who is happy to follow a parent, wherever the path is leading.

Human development and reality tend toward that period of life coming to an end, someday, so appreciate it when it's happening, and be understanding when paths diverge.
photo by Cátia Maciel