Tuesday, February 28, 2023


Carousels, merry-go-rounds... American-made carousels go counter-clockwise. In the UK, they call that "anti-clockwise," and theirs go clockwise.

Is that worth knowing? Maybe not, but I think it's interesting.

Where I live, in the U.S., horses don't have names on them, except at Disneyland, pretty much. The "King Arthur Carrousel" in Disneyland was made in Canada, over 100 years ago—before Disneyland. I don't know whether the Canadian builders used two "r"s in the name, or if Walt Disney liked the alternative spelling. If you think any of this is interesting, you can read more here, about the one at Disneyland.

I took the photo above, at a fair in England. Lol is a nickname for Laurence, there (and old guys are named Laurence, not so many young kids), so that horse was named after someone who was called "Lol" instead of "Larry," and not named after laughing out loud.

How many small facts and connections can one person hold? I don't think there's a limit.

It's easier to learn a thing if you already know something else kind of like it. Connections!

It's All Information
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 27, 2023

Relative sizes

New unschoolers are often afraid. If you feel fear, that's natural. If you've taken a child out of school, there is still a school there you could put him back into, so if your fear is that it's a once and forever decision, it's not. Schools are right there, still.

If you feel that you're turning your back on your entire culture, take a deep breath and note that when you turn your back on school, all that's behind you is a school. What's not school is infinite. What is school is small.

photo by Roya Dedeaux

quote is from page 16, Big Book of Unschooling

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Light shows

Sometimes light does fancy tricks, outside, or inside, with refractions, reflections, shadows and shimmery sunbeams.

There are other lights that can catch your eye, though. Candles, lamps and lanterns, maybe. Your home might have electric fixtures you especially like.

Sometimes we think of the light in someone's eyes, or their lightness of being. Some people live lightly, with springy steps and easy smiles.

When you have light inside you, others can see it.

photo by Cathy Koetsier

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Joyfully detoxing

Paula L / "Paulapalooza" wrote:

Okay, not all days will leave us feeling as if we are Julie Andrews spinning around on that mountain top singing "The Sound of Music," but so many of my days leave me with just that feeling.
. . . .


You know, I spent a good 30 of my 35 years in some type of structured setting, striving to please others and live up to their standards, which I convinced myself were my own. I feel that I will be detoxing from this for the rest of my life, and it's a joyful process. Living outside the box makes me a person at peace, a person people constantly observe as "always so happy." I used to be very good at "blooming where I was planted," which was of course not true happiness, and the strain inevitably showed. I am finally happy on my own terms, and the difference is obvious to me.
—Paula L

A happy free day!
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Also by Paula L, beautiful, but I cannot match a photo to it:
A Day of Wonder
It's sweet and poetic; please read it.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Nice, and patient

Being nice to another person is what makes one nice.

Being patient with another person is what makes one patient.

If a parent says hatefully "BE GOOD," he's not being very good.

Instead of telling a young child "Be nice, and be patient," the parent should be nice, and patient. It's a generality, and a truism, but it's generally true.

photo by Sandra Dodd, in June 2016

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Frost and warmth

Frost can be beautiful and might only last an hour or so.

Heat is exhausting, but people can usually find some shade and a fan.

Children are frustrating, and wonderful, and you love them and protect them and they change, and grow, and maybe leave.

Admire and appreciate sweetness and light. Don't fear that exhaustion and frustration will never give you a break.

Practice keeping your balance, gently.

photo by Jo Isaac

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Becoming an unschooler

Pam Sorooshian, to a frustrated participant in a discussion once:

We have long experience with people new to unschooling, and we know that it is very important to take time to process the new ideas.

Please take time for reflection. Take time for your mind to be calm and quiet. Take time to be open to input, not busy creating output. Don't respond, think. Take the ideas and let them "be" in your mind and go spend lots of time with your children and consider and observe how the ideas might play out in your own home with your own kids.

—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Flowing smoothly

medieval roof spout shaped like a lamb, seems, on an old church in France
Liquids flow, life flows, ideas flow, learning flows. Sometimes things don't flow smoothly, or don't flow freely, or flow where we don't want them to flow, or freeze up altogether. Parents can accept, acknowledge and appreciate flow, or they can block, knock and wreck it.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 20, 2023

Meeting in the moment

Here is the deal, about unschooling:

Unschooling works the same way for any child, regardless of his particulars. Each child is met in the moment by a partner interested in making his day safe and interesting and in helping him do things he might like to do. If one wants to spin around for half an hour while another wants to take a radio apart and put it back together, that's not a problem.

from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 70 (or 77), which leads to

Seeing Children Without Labels

photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, February 19, 2023

It must be learned and lived

Unschooling is not something people can wind up and let loose. It has to be learned and lived. And it has to be learned on the job, as it goes, so you can't wait until you're great at it to start.
—Sandra Dodd
Too boring to unschool?
at Always Learning

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of museum robots

Saturday, February 18, 2023

To see learning

 photo IMG_6966.jpeg

What we call "deschooling" is about more than school. It's de-tox and recovery from all the ideas that could come between parent and child, or between parent and peace, or that would keep the parent from being able to see learning in all of the fabric of life.

photo by Chrissy Florence

Friday, February 17, 2023

Rich, full lives

Meredith Novak, years ago, on communicating with relatives who ask about unschooling:

It's helpful to keep in mind that one of the big things grandparents want is a sense of connection with their grandchildren. When kids aren't in school, that can feel awkward - what the heck do you say to a child other than "what are you doing in school?" Especially if you only see him twice a year? It can leave extended family members stymied. So it helps a whoooole lot to feed them useful information and conversation starters in the form of something grandparents usually like anyway - pictures and stories of their grandkids. Keeping a blog or sending regular notes (via facebook or plain old snail mail) goes a long way in that regard. And! they get to see their beloved grandchildren happy and adventurous, which can help to reassure them on that score.

Unschooling can come across as some kind of weird cult if you try to explain it from a theoretical side first. Start with happy kids living rich, full lives and school starts to seem less of an issue.

photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Winter picnic idea

Deb Lewis, as part of a long list of things to do in winter:

We've gone on picnics on the coldest of cold days. There is a big shelter, open at one end with a big fire pit that was built by the snow mobile club up at a campground near us. We've gone there on cold days with thermoses full of hot soup or stir fry, built a fire, had fun.
—Deb Lewis

photo by Brie Jontry

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

What (a good) life is all about

Living mindfully and making conscious choices for clear reasons is what a solid, thoughtful life is all about.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Seeing, visiting, tasting

Of "experts" renouncing unschooling the first time they hear of it:

I understand that it’s difficult to understand unschooling. Even for those who want to understand it, it takes awhile. I would never speak of something I had never seen, nor write about a country I had never visited, nor review a food I had never tasted.

Debating How Kids Learn
photo by Nancy Machaj, of grafitti in Paris

Monday, February 13, 2023

Be kind to your children

You have helped me be more kind to my children. The best thing anyone could have done for them and me. Thank you!
(I didn't save the name.)

Feedback, Just Add Light and Stir
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Gradually, but hurry

Gradually move toward doing it right now. Halfway between "very gradual" and "do it right now" is the place to be, while you're learning about unschooling.

Stalling and hesitation take time away from your future unschooling peace and success!

photo by Diane Marcengill

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Respond thoughtfully

To say "yes" reflexively is no more mindful than saying "no" thoughtlessly.
—Sylvia Woodman

Mindful and Thoughtful
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, February 10, 2023

The obstacle isn't the path

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

One thing that keeps me responding after all these years is because I understand. To me it makes perfect sense *why* parents get stuck on certain thought pathways. I understand why they can't see the view the child sees, why school colors their vision, why fear colors their vision. I enjoy helping them see the walls they thought trapped them are just obstacles. I enjoy helping them find a path around the obstacles.

But it can't work unless people see the obstacles aren't part of who they are, unless they can step back to observe the obstacles objectively so that they can let go and move around them.
—Joyce Fetteroll

"It's not Personal"

Possible obstacles to Unschooling
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Be more positive than I am

Once someone in a chat asked what I meant by "Positive." Quickly and bluntly, I wrote:
Positive is not being cynical and not being pessimistic and not taking pride in being dark and pissy.
Yesterday I added it to my newish page on Positivity. It is the least positive thing on that page. 🙂

photo of Hadrian's Wall, by Jo Isaac

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

It's about learning.

Unschooling is about learning, and not about teaching. Unschooling parents rely on their children's native, undamaged curiosity and on the interesting world around them.

photo by Nina Haley

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Courage? Confidence.

Courage is sometimes about making life bigger, more sparkly, about living in the world, about creating a good nest.

I think of it as confidence. They're similar. Confidence grows from the inside, though, while courage can be reckless.
. . . .

When you're thinking about what unschooling can bring into your life, don't forget confidence, or courage. And do things to build that, so your children's lives and worlds expand.

Slightly edited from Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, February 6, 2023

Giving and connecting

[The word "Service"] stirred negative feelings for many years, until I had my first child.

Being with my children, giving them in each moment all I can, learning and growing with them, changed my understanding of "service."

I have chosen to give, help and serve my children. I feel being with them has contributed towards a new understanding of the word as well as a way of building a connection with them. I can also see how it can be extended to others.

I realize how much weight a word can carry, how changes in my own feelings have lightened that weight and thrown a new light on the word itself. Service now stirs up and brings great feelings of joy.

— Parvine Shahid
March 2015

photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Accept temporary changes

Sometimes a familiar place, or thing, or person, is warm and soft and safe. Other times there might be special circumstances, or danger, or extra beauty.

Try to model for your children an acceptance of change, and an appreciation of the days when things are calm and simple. Model being more careful when such factors as humidity, temperature or temperament come into play.

photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Step up to happiness

No matter where a person is, a step up is a step up. Happier is happier.

Deposit the Good Stuff
photo by Denaire Nixon

Friday, February 3, 2023

Looking, being, knowing

Karen James wrote:

Living in the world peacefully and respectfully are good places to begin to focus when new to unschooing. The best advice I was given was to look at my son. Not at ideals. Not at freedom. Not at school or no school. Not at labels. Not at big ideas. Look at my son. Be with him. Get to know him deeply. And, then to read a bit about unschooling. Give something new a try. See how it goes in the context of our real day to day life.

I still do that. I'm still learning.
—Karen James

photo by Karen James

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Growing up and leaving gently

I have heard many stories of the rearrangements of families with unschoolers who are in their late teens or early twenties, and a young adult will leave, or bring another in, or the house is split up some. The stories are peaceful, and not about fear and arguments.

This, below, is from an interview I did in 2010.
I think when the child leaves naturally and positively, for a good reason, and the parents were willing to have him stay longer, there are fewer regrets and frustrations than under other circumstances. When kids are small, the mom is constantly on call. When Holly was born I had two and five year old boys. I know what it's like to have three young children. I also know what it's like to have three teens driving. But when they're calmly and confidently grown, the mom can leave for a month and they'll still be okay.
—Sandra Dodd

Interview, by Kim Houssenloge, of Feather and Nest
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Exploring largely

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

If you're not already an interesting person with interesting information to share with your children, then you'll have to make an effort to be more interesting. The way to do that is to develop your own sense of curiosity, wonder, fascination, and enthusiasm.

It might have to seem a little artificial, for a while, if it isn't natural to a parent to just "be" this way.
— Pam Sorooshian

photo by Rosie Moon