Sunday, October 30, 2022

Special-occasion food

You can play with your food and eat it too.

Related for food images to
How Unschooled Kids Watch TV
and maybe to Easy Food Art
photo by Sarah S.

Side effects

The purpose of unschooling is not to change the parents; it's to provide a personalized learning environment for each child. Doing that does change the parents, though, if they do it wholeheartedly.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Find delight

Find delight in small, everyday things.
apple on top of a macbook
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 28, 2022


"Sometimes the measure of unschooling's success isn't how much a kid meets normal expectations, but how much sweeter and easier life is."
—Meredith Novak
(original, on facebook)
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Nagging is harmful

Nagging makes you a nag. Be kinder to partners and children whenever you can be.
(Today's post is a reminder to myself.
I hope I'm the only one who needed it.)
title art by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Second thoughts

During a drought, what is lacking?

The recommended answer: rain
Young Marty's answer: a boat ride
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Able to see learning

young child playing full-size arcade Super Mario Brothers

The parents must be willing to believe that their children can learn.

Unless your children are given a real opportunity to show you how children learn, to show you that it works, you will not see it.

The parents have to be
   willing to see learning
      able to see it
         and desirous of seeing it.

You can kill unschooling on the vine with "That won't work."
photo by Lisa Jonick

Monday, October 24, 2022

Surprised, repeatedly

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Homeschooled children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise you with what they know.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Joannah Smith of a tiny bridge, Scotland;
sheep can go under, a truck can go over


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Beauty and usefulness

The world isn't sorted into serious and funny, or beautiful and dull. Things are often quite mixed up, and changing with the moment, and the light, and the seasons. New things get old.

Some radio stations (which aren't as vital as they once were) play songs that are sixty years old, or more. A hundred years ago, 1920 provided the first public radio broadcasts of a news program (in Detroit, Michigan). A college radio station aired music, a sporting event and concerts (Schenectedy, New York). An opera was broadcast for the twenty radios that could receive it (August 2020, Buenos Aries, Argentina).

Our receipt of sound is more varied now, and we can bring in humor, debate, tragedy, and re-reuns of those things from earlier times. Text and images have been added. We have more choices than we have time to choose them, these days.

Look for beauty and usefulness. Choose joy and uplift, from the river of output that pours around us.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Liverpool one time

Stories of radio in 1920, which I looked up not knowing I really was writing this 100 years after initial public broadcasts, came from Wikipedia's History of Radio page. Good coincidence, for 2020. We are living in the flow of history.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Time and attention

painting of a sort of sunburst, with the word 'yes'
Schuyler Waynforth said, in a presentation in Australia:

When I stumbled across unschooling I grabbed hold.
. . .
The more I read and the more I experienced and the more I tried, the more that I could see a framework. It was my engagement that made a difference. It was my time and my attention and my focus that kept things moving better and more smoothly than it could ever have done without me.
—Schuyler Waynforth
art and photo by Holly Blossom

Friday, October 21, 2022

Absent witnesses

In a discussion about mothers of young children imagining their actions are being witnessed, I wrote:

I did that early on with my favorite La Leche League leaders. I invited them early, into my super-ego, to talk to me when they weren't there. 🙂 Trying to keep their voices in my head made me remember that I wouldn't want to do things that would keep them from feeling good about my progress and their assistance.

I think it's the purpose of saints (imagery in the house or worn on the body) or amulets or other religious or superstitious objects. I mean I think it's natural and ancient, among people, to have absent witnesses. The feeling that ancestors can see what we're doing is common in some cultures (and, honestly, ours—it came up at my house on Tuesday at a memorial for a dead friend, even though most there were atheists; it can be soothing, and inspiring).
photo by Jihong Tang

Thursday, October 20, 2022

An unschooling nest

There is some physicality to the "nest," but much of it is constructed and held together by love, attitudes and relationships. Shared memories and plans, family jokes, songs and stories shared and discussed, all those strengthen the nest.

Building a Nest
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Two for one

I like photos with reflections. Sometimes they're clear and sometimes they're interestingly changed. Always, though, you see the two things.

Connections and contrasts are the way brains sort. What is the same, and what is different?

Covers of songs; different paintings of the same object or building or person; woodworking projects made from the same pattern by different carpenters with different types of wood... Examining pairs is like playing a game of "spot the difference." Each difference might have a natural explanation, or was a conscious decision on the part of an artist.

What a rich life you and your children might have in those moments that seeing, playing and learning are the same valuable substance.

Two things, two words
photo by Dan Vilter

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Finding yourself with your children

Being where you are, in a mindful way, with the potential and the tools to be still and know it, is the portal to a better life. Call it what you want to, finding yourself with your children will put you in a good place.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 17, 2022

Happy mom

A mom was worried about intellectualizing too much, and not being fully present with her young child. I wrote:

Nobody's still and at kid-speed all the time. But if you can figure out how to do it sometimes, then you can choose to do it, or choose to go faster, but to bring him along in a happy way.

Instead of saying "Come on, let's go!" maybe you could have picked him up and twirled him around and said something sweet and by the time he knows it he's fifty yards from there, but happy to be with his happy mom.

From the "possibilities and joy" section of Parenting Peacefully
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Out of this world?

School has become so much a part of life in the past few decades that it seems to some that taking their children out of school is like leaving the planet altogether. You will be relieved, then, to discover that school takes kids out of the world but unschooling gives it back. I know it can sound wrong and crazy. Keep reading. Keep watching your kids. Listen to your memories of childhood.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Joyous moments

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

Right now, in front of the television, there are a slew of origami papers and markers and paper dolls and other bits and bobs from Linnaea crafting one or another thing. As I peer closer I can see a bird she made and drawings she's drawn and planes she designed as toys for the kittens. I will probably go over and tidy it up in a little bit, to keep the pieces safer from folks walking around and to make sure that there isn't food for the ants.

It takes only a moment to turn what you describe as rubble into a series of activities, of joyous moments. They are still-lifes waiting to be interpreted. I can see the shadow of her sitting there and doing and making and talking and turning to Simon to show him or running to fly the plane she made in the hallway to see if it would fly well enough to engage whichever kitten it was designed to amuse, or calling to me to come and interpret whichever fold the origami book was describing onto the paper she was folding.

It isn't rubble, it is her life.

—Schuyler Waynforth

The writing was saved and commented on by Renee Cabatic. An exchange between Renee and Schuyler is here:
Life is Good and the amazing Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Cátia Maciel

(I'm sorry not to have a photo of the original origami birds and planes, but I found some other kid-engineering evidence.)

Friday, October 14, 2022

A better nature

Glenda Sikes wrote:

I vividly remember there being a point several years into unschooling when I realized that so many of the things that had taken conscious effort in the beginning, had become second nature for me at some point along the way.

Be conscious of what you're saying and doing. Be more aware of your thoughts. If you act or react in a knee-jerk way that doesn't help relationships with your family, apologize to them and make a different, better choice in that moment.
—Glenda Sikes
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Simple magic

Remember these moments, when simple things make the normal world magical.

Provide for the possibility of these moments.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Mysteries and things

There are amusing mysteries, spooky mysteries, beautiful mysteries and sacred mysteries.

Sometimes a thing is just a thing, and sometimes it's a mystery.

Everyday Mysteries
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Happy apple trees

A good analogy for helping children grow in their own ways is the growth of trees from seed. An apple seed cannot grow an oak tree. Each seed has within it all it needs to know what kind of roots and leaves it will make. What young trees need is good soil, enough water, and protection from damage.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Monday, October 10, 2022

Philosophical cookies

What makes "a watermelon cookie"? These didn't taste like watermelon. They weren't made of watermelon. The term here is all about their appearance.

Watermelon is usually considered to be healthy, but tourists and host families in India are reminded that if someone should not drink "the local water," that they should also avoid watermelon, as that fruit takes in and stores some of the potentially dangerous (to visitors) elements of local water.

These cookies have nothing to do with India, or with bad water, except wait.... I just connected them, in a way.

Some parents might cringe (or worse) at the idea of my joy in something involving sugar and food coloring, but as I'm already talking about memories and connections, I can remind readers that parental disapproval (especially when it's overblown or overstated) does more damage than sugar-coated food-colored sugar with chocolate chips ever could.

I learned the watermelon cookie recipe from a younger friend, when she asked me if I could make them for her wedding reception. I did. She had horses. My daughter, who was eight years old or so and learning to braid, was able to help groom and braid the mane of one of those horses, and work some ribbons in there somehow. Later she did that with people, and My Little Ponies.

My granddaughter wasn't born when all that happened, but now she has helped make those cookies. She might never meet Sarah, who had watermelon-cookie memories from her own childhood.

Connections and memories involve people, places, newnesses, learning, amusement, trivia, and thoughts about the meaning of life, and of reality. The more naturally people can see and appreciate those things, the better life and learning will be.

Report on the making of watermelon cookies
Photos by Sandra Dodd—
this one is a link:

Sunday, October 9, 2022


Choices and preferences, self-expression, style, costume elements...

Hair, clothes, hats, scarves, a favorite umbrella...

Pens, paint, paper, scissors and glue...

Parents being partners can involve helping kids obtain special items, space to store things, and places to show them off.

Softer and safer
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 8, 2022


Relax! You can deal with problems better without struggling. You might find out that struggling WAS the problem.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, October 7, 2022

It's whimsical.

Holly, posing with mannequins, in Camden Market

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Sometimes learning looks like flitting from one thing to another. But it's more like gathering a collection of something. If you imagine collecting world stamps or coins, seashells, leaves, 80's heavy metal CDs, Pokemon ... you don't begin with A, collecting only those that begin with A until that's complete, ignoring ones that are there right in your reach but out of order. You gather what interests you as you find it. It's whimsical.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Jasmine McNeill

Thursday, October 6, 2022

More peaceful, more connected

A mom named Hannah wrote:

Unschooling has definitely changed my life for the better. Our family life is more peaceful and happy. I've stopped trying to control my husband (I had the best intentions at heart) and our marriage is more satisfying, we are much more connected and understanding of each other. I just let him be him and he lets me be me and we both work together for the good of the family.
—Hannah Brewin
photo by Kelly Halldorson

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Imaginary advisors

Sandra Dodd, on stored internal messages:

I think of whose voices I've let speak back to me when I'm wondering what to do, what cartoonish characters are in the peanut gallery of my conscience. I have Mr. Jamison who was the best voice coach I ever had. That's when I'm singing, or sometimes when I'm getting gushy about certain kinds of music and a voice (Sam Jamison's) says it's pap. I don't always agree with him, but I wrestle his opinion lots of times when I don't expect to need to.

I have lots of former best friends, neighbors, teachers, relatives. Some have to sit in the dark back rows, and I don't listen to them as much as I once did because I decided their advice was bad. Some are totally situational (music, or money, or cooking). Some are more about philosophy and ethics and compassion, so they sit up in front with the light on them more often.

I don't mind being one of the council of imaginary advisors anyone has. I just hope they'll listen to lots of voices and not follow any of them without really thinking about it or understanding why.

Use your words (with a great comment)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Gratitude, hope, love

Breathe in a happy memory.

Breathe out gratitude.

Breathe in hope.

Breathe out love.

Breathe in a Happy Memory
photo by Brie Jontry

Monday, October 3, 2022

Chairs, mountains, puff-toys

Accept and admire beauty if you can, instead of dismissing things as "just..."
      Just a stump.
             Just a dandelion.

Can you see the beauty in the stump? It might be a safe place to stand after a rain. To a child you love, it might be a chair or a mountain.

Dandelions are flowers that make puff-toys for children to blow on. They grow without our help. They might be the only colorful flower you'll see, some days. If a child loves them, can you follow?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The memories parents have

Deschooling is not just the child recovering from school damage. It's also the parents exploring their own school and childhood damage and proactively changing their thinking until the paradigm shift happens.
—Robyn Coburn

Robyn Coburn on Unschooling
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Activity over worry

"It feels so much better to be doing something active to try to improve life than it did sitting around worrying about it!!"
—Cass Kotrba
photo by Sandra Dodd