Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Watch and play

child and dog on a rocky shore
Karen James wrote:

Play. A lot. Wonder. A lot. Listen. Observe. Smile. A lot.
If they like shows, watch shows. If they like video games, play video games with them. If they like water, make ice, take them to a splash pad, to a creek, to a lake, to the ocean, to the tub, draw on the sidewalk with a wet finger and watch it disappear.

More, and sweet:
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Comfortably and happily

Just like ALL learning, learning how to live comfortably and happily are really wonderful things. It takes a focus on turning away from what you know you don't like and turning towards something else—that something else that creates happy learning and living. Unschooling really is a shift in thinking and then acting on it.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, November 28, 2022

New eyes

Joyce wrote:
Don't teach. Just look at *everything* with new eyes....

Just live life amazed.
—Joyce Fetteroll

To read the long middle part I left out, go to:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sharing the freedom you have

If I "give my children freedom" in a situation, it's because I had some leeway or rights myself. I cannot "give them freedom" that I don't have.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Peaceful choices

Schuyler Waynforth wrote some years ago:

It was hard not to turn to the quick solution that never solved anything and left everyone upset, me included, me, maybe the most. But it was amazing to have to expand into the vacuum left by not having that blunt tool in my toolbox. Both Simon and Linnaea grew to trust me. It took less time than I expected.
. . . .
My raging, my approach to problems didn't help anything.

I can remember talking about it, thinking about it, it was like a switch I could feel turning. I went from calm and in control to *switch* furious in no time at all. And I couldn't figure out how to not turn the switch on, to make the switch a thoughtful process. When it flipped the other day I felt it go and I stepped away and I turned it off. Most days I stop long before the switch goes. The thoughtful process was recognizing the grumpiness earlier in the day. Feeling a shortness that isn't normally there and doing things to respond to that like going for a quick breath outside or having a chocolate milk or a chai latte or something else that just ups my energy budget a bit. Taking five minutes to close my eyes and be still helps, too. Whatever works for you to buffer yourself is good. Come up with lots of little things.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 25, 2022

Learning, exploration, peace & love

It's worth looking into the concept of process vs. product. People learn from figuring out how things work. One doesn't need to build a computer just to mess with computer repair or examine parts. Someone can play with yarn and needles and do a simple scarf without being made to feel like a failure for having no interest in making sweaters and socks.

Unschooling is about learning, exploration, peace and love.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Unlimited gratitude

Gratitude doesn't need to be saved up for big things.
Abundance and gratitude
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Learning without instruction

Bob Collier wrote:

Before my son's years of unschooling, it would never have occurred to me that it was possible for somebody to learn to drive without some kind of formal instruction. Apparently, it is. If you don't mind plenty of conversations and events unfolding at their own pace, which my wife and I became very used to with our son and that enabled us to trust him on this occasion. I hope he'll always keep that determination to do things the way he believes is best for him, and his unhurriedness. I've learned a lot from it.
—Bob Collier

Learning to Drive Informally on my site,
and the original writing at Always Learning
photo by Sandra Dodd
and not a perfect match, because my kids did take driver's ed

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Taking a fresh look

Christina D. wrote:

I'm learning about unschooling and, as a surprise, now watching how it is working its way into so many other areas of my life. It is really causing me to take a "fresh look" at EVERYTHING! Sometimes, I am a bit overwhelmed at all the conditioning that I didn't realize I had, but I'm so grateful for the personal thoughts and stories shared through this list and on the websites. You are all opening my eyes (and heart).
—Christina D.
Always Learning, 2012
photo by Gail Higgins

Monday, November 21, 2022

Learn and share

Karen James, to a worried mom with a young teen daughter:

Try not to worry. I know that's hard. I'm a worrier, myself. But when we worry about another person, it becomes a burden for them on top of what they are already experiencing. Just be with her, as fully as you can. If she's telling you she's bored, she's inviting you into her experience. Join her. Learn about her. Share yourself with her too. You'll likely learn a lot about her (and yourself) in the process, and I'm confident it will be enriching and rewarding for you both.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Who children are right now

Meredith Novak's words:
It was hard for me to realize I wasn't being kind or generous to my kids - I think of myself as a pretty kind person, in general, and I was certainly doing things I *thought* were generous... Part of the problem I had was that I wasn't thinking about Ray's interests and desires in the moment, I was thinking about the person he might become. I was being kind and generous to the adult I hoped he would grow into, doing things that were "good for him" so he could become that adult. Setting up life lessons for kids ignores who kids are as people in favor of theoretical adults - which isn't kind to who children are right now.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Climbing mountains and baking pies

Cumbres and Toltec train, 2015
In response to someone saying her child would rather take the easy route than try something tough, Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

It's human nature to avoid what we feel is a waste of time, energy and resources.
It's also human nature to pour energy into what we find fascinating.

If someone is made to climb a mountain, they'll find the easiest path, and perhaps even cheat.

If someone desires to climb a mountain, they may even make it more difficult—challenging—for themselves if the route doesn't light their fire.

If it were human nature to go the easy route, I wouldn't be sitting here writing out a response! No one would write a novel. No one would climb Mt. Everest. No one would bake a cherry pie from scratch. No one would have kids.
—Joyce Fetteroll
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly Dodd riding a steam train restored and largely operated by volunteers. The easy route would have been for them to stay home and read books and watch movies about trains.

Friday, November 18, 2022

"Prior"—what comes first?

Someone inquiring about unschooling once complained:
"You seem to be saying that the two priorities are mutually exclusive."
Joyce wrote:

When we're trying to achieve two goals there will be times when a decision will lead towards one but away from another.

I responded:

Priorities have literally to do with rankings. Two "priorities" can't be equal, or there is no "priority" (first-in-lineness, precedence). So if they are to be called "priorities" then I suppose one has to exclude the other at that point of decision making. But people can have two favorite causes or missions or concerns, and lots of times the precedence of them won't matter. When it does, that's when they learn their priorities.

Both of us wrote a bit more than that, at
photo by Drew

Older buildings are reflected in the window; Silver City, New Mexico, a few years ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Towards positivity everywhere

Janine wrote:

It's exhilarating to me, the transformative power of unschooling. It is the thing that has finally drained negativity out of my life and pushed me daily further and further away from it, and further and further towards positivity in every area of my life. When it does sneak in again it is more obvious and ugly and I see it for the poison it is. It was ever present through my childhood, my youth, relationships and early parenting.
—Janine Davies
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Permission and approval

Some advice on going gradually:

Just like getting lots of gifts instead of one big one, if you say "sure," "okay," "yes" to lots of requests for watching a movie late or having cake for breakfast or them playing another half hour on the swings and you can just read a book in the car nearby, then they get TONS of yes, and permission, and approval.

If you throw your hands up and say "Whatever," that's a disturbing moment of mom seeming not to care instead of mom seeming the provider of an assortment of joyous approvals.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Learning without clocks

School schedules give the illusion that life should be divided into 50-minute increments. It's nonsense.

Our culture has this "hour" and "half hour" thing that is as unnatural and arbitrary as can be. It has to do with clocks, not with people. It has to do with salaries and billing.

Be wary of scheduling and measuring, while deschooling.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, November 14, 2022

Everyday things; interesting things

We live in an everyday-thing world. People always have.

The only way to avoid the everyday world is to limit and control our children, to be separate from the world in ways that will keep our children from learning naturally about the things around them.
. . . .

The more time parents spend with their children, doing interesting things together, the less they will worry about other things.

from Always Learning
photo by Sophie Larcher

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Better and happier days

Caren Knox wrote:

The bulk of what was challenging for me was changing internally, not just in parenting beliefs and thoughts about learning, but acknowledging & feeling the very deep connection my sons and I share.

. . . . I found the more I trusted and allowed my heart to open to my sons, the better and happier our days were.
Do it Well
photo by Dan Vilter

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Smile and create peace

I know that I can change the whole mood in my household simply by smiling and "be"ing happy. It creates a happy energy that infects others around me. I remember when both my girls were babies, I would cradle them in my arms and consciously smile and create peace in my heart while I was holding them. Sometimes, I was tired or anxious for them to fall asleep and it would make me feel less happy about that moment, so to shift it was a positive thing to do. I have happy memories of rocking my babies, while they seem to have a happy peace about them, and I think that is why my mood shifts will change theirs, even still now that one is 14 and one is 6.
Jenny Cyphers
(whose girls are grown now)

photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, November 11, 2022

Shadowy gifts

If you look, you might see things!

Thinking "that's just a pumpkin" might make you miss the star that was there for a little while.

Most things are more things. Keep looking.

other shadow photos in this blog
and a few on my website
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Lovable and respectable

(Warning people away from "unconditional love," I wrote:)

Probably the idea started, in the 1950’s, with Carl Rogers’ phrase "unconditional positive regard."

If you’re a big fan of "unconditional love," consider backing it back to "unconditional positive regard" to help clarify and ground you for the real world.

Unconditional Positive Regard (at wikipedia)

Also, try to respect your male partner if you have one. He’s probably doing some good for you even if it seems like he’s not giving you unconditional love. And the difference between "love" and "respect" is about language anyway. Try to be lovable AND respectable, whether or not you have a partner or an audience, because it makes you a better person. Try to be trustworthy and dependable.

Being a better person will make you a better parent.

“Deserve” is a problem.

The link followed that, but the quote is from a longer post, "Love and Respect," in the archives
photo by Janine Davies

Note to clarify, years later: I think that in a long-established relationship with any other adult, raising children, that love and respect are intertwined. Biochemically, in more youthful people who are "in love," that has a reality beyond and apart from respect. In the context of the topic from which that was taken, it's clearer.

The Wikipedia article has been amended, in the past few years, to credit Stanley Standal with the concept, and the phrase "positive regard" (for therapists).

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Stop Struggling

italian houses with mountain and cloudy sky above
When someone says "I struggle with..." the answer is "stop struggling." Not to give up on change, but instead of struggling with the old thing, turn all the way away from it, and do the new thing. BE the new thing.
photo by Dylan Lewis

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Healthier and happier

Not only are our food choices healthier but since I have stopped controlling sleep and chores and T.V. watching and video games our family is healthier and happier. It didn't happen overnight but it's been like this long enough that I can't imagine our lives any other way.
—Gail H.
years ago

That's the end of something longer, at
"True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets"
image by Jen Keefe

Monday, November 7, 2022

Happier and wiser

If you start looking at choices instead of "have to's" you will be happier IMMEDIATELY. And wiser.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Don't finish the bad things.

Please don't buy into the "you have to finish what you start" stuff.

If you started screaming or spanking, would you press yourself to finish just because you had started, or wouldn't you pride yourself on your ability to stop and change course as SOON as you saw it wasn't good?

If someone starts a course of poison, it's better to throw the remaining pills in the trash than to finish it all just because you started.
photo by Holly Dodd
in Albuquerque

Saturday, November 5, 2022

No Bad Days—and fewer bad moments

I had only been online a couple of years when someone on AOL wrote one of the best things ever, and it changed my life the moment I read it. She said she didn't think of a day as "bad," as she didn't want to condemn or write off a whole day. She said she would just think "I had a bad moment."
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 4, 2022

Less nutty now

Deb Lewis, writing in 2006, referring to 1999
(first posted here in 2011, and more true in 2022)

Spending time with Dylan made it hard for people to make an argument that he was missing something by not going to school. He was bright and articulate and lively. "But when he gets older," they started saying, "he'll need to go to school for the important subjects."

About this time some homeschooling kids were winning spelling bees and geography bees. Some public school kids were shooting up their classrooms. Suddenly, keeping a kid out of school didn't seem as nutty as it had a few years before.
—Deb Lewis
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Rainbow connections

If you can't connect ponies, rainbows, unicorns, Kermit, joy and immersion, read at the link below.

But I suppose you could, with a little thought, connect all those things one way or another.
photo by Amber Ivey

Wednesday, November 2, 2022


Peaceful sleep and sweet dreams can come from gentle parenting.
photo by Holly Dodd, of Albuquerque, from a high point in a neighboring town

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Gateway ideas

"At the gateway to the garden there was always a gate keeper…"

dark yard, wooden gate backlit with a vulture sitting on the gatepost

From "The Beautiful Park," by Robyn Coburn
photo by Kristiva Stack, of her gate and a visiting vulture