Sunday, April 30, 2023

Gradually building

Karen James wrote:

In our home, everything we do is an opportunity to learn something new or to make a new connection to something familiar, allowing each of us to gradually build on our unique understanding of the world.
—Karen James
photo by Jo Isaac

Saturday, April 29, 2023

So logically...

Deb Lewis wrote:

Does TV create violence, really? Maybe guns create violence. Knives. Baseball bats. Hammers. Axes, shovels, saws? Rope? Dynamite? Sharp sticks, rocks? Maybe it's language causes violence because most killers spoke. Maybe it's books. Clothing? Day time night time wind rain snow trees birds frogs.

For lots of kids, even the bad guys on TV are nicer than the real life crazy people they live and go to school with.
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

The page also has this quote:
"There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?"
—Dick Cavett

Friday, April 28, 2023

Why not?

Creativity and courage are useful for unschooling, and they are traits that an unschooling environment nurtures, in both kids and adults.

Consider why something is or should be. The range of useful and acceptable options is very likely wider than you first thought. What is the purpose? What's the principle?

If you're tempted to say no, out of habit or convenience, first think "why not?" If you don't have an honest, good reason to say no, perhaps it's time to say something like...
Let's try it, or
I'll help you, or
Okay, yes.
photo by Sandra Dodd
(chain guards and other details, India)

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Many tiny leaps?

Progress toward respectful parenting doesn't come all in one great leap from anywhere to peace all day and all night. It's a step at a time toward "better."

(Original; the quote is the best part.)
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Each person's learning

"Every person's learning about the world will be piecemeal - so it might as well be serendipitous and interest based."
photo by Rosie Moon

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Be the safest place

A common question is how to "make" children hold the mom's hand. It helps to live in such a way that the child wants to hold the mom's hand.
. . . .
Make yourself your child's safest place in the world, and many of your old concerns will just disappear.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 67
(pages 72-73 in newer edition)
photo by Sarah S.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Safe and fed and warm

Pam Sorooshian:
Learning requires a sense of safety.

Fear blocks learning. Shame and embarrassment, stress and anxiety—these block learning.
Principles of Unschooling

Sandra Dodd:
So don't pressure, coerce or confuse your children.

Smile and laugh and provide.

Keep them safe and fed and warm and they will grow all sorts of ways.
Principles of Learning (chat transcript)
photo by Belinda Dutch

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Swimming in that water

It's fun to watch a fish. It might stay right where it is, however they do that, for a long time. It might change directions. It might dart away.

Try to see your child similarly. He's living in his own environment, in air, maybe walking on the floor or on the ground. He's there whether you're looking or not. He might stay in one place for a long time, or dart off somewhere.

Be at peace with small choices children make. See the beauty of them.

(Be at peace, but be ready to dart after them!)
Desire to learn
photo by Heather Burditt

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Private ideas

I love museums. Museums of any sort are special to me, and sometimes I'm thinking about the building or whose idea it was or where the funding comes from to keep the lights and heat on, and to hire people to keep it all safe and clean.

What others are thinking in a museum, even if they're with me, could never be exactly the same. An object will, without fail, remind me of a personal experience, or of when or where I first learned of such things. If it's SO NEW to me that I'm surprised, I tend to think of which friend of mine, alive or dead, I would most like to share it with, or to ask about it. Sometimes that's my dad, especially if the object is an old truck, or a metal structure.

Sometimes I've been the person one of my kids shared something with. That's sweet, and I get to know a bit about what they're connecting to and with.

Long ago, I came to see the whole world as a museum. I love that, too.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Friday, April 21, 2023

Beliefs and priorities

Principles instead of rules means not to decide in advance what you're going to do, but to know what you believe and what your priorities are, and then to make decisions based on that. Not to behave arbitrarily, but thoughtfully.

Principles of Learimg (chat transcript)
photo by Holly Dodd, 2014, India

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A peaceful family

Leah Rose wrote:

Turns out that peace isn't actually the absence of discord. It's the presence of trust, and it arises when every member of the family is able to relax into the experience of feeling seen and valued, into the knowledge that his or her needs matter and will be met as often as possible—not *never* denied, but not denied on a whim or without a thoughtful reason. Turns out a peaceful family isn't one in which there are no conflicts. It's one in which there is a solid enough foundation of trust and connection to allow for conflicts to arise and be resolved without injuring the relationships. It took me a long time to see that.
—Leah Rose

about halfway down,
what Leah wrote above has paragraphs before and after.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Real life science

Joyce Fetteroll, responding to a fear-filled mom:

While I'm a big fan of science and have a sciency degree, in terms of helping children I trust the real life experiences of unschoolers far more than I trust scientific studies done on (schooled) children (often with an eye towards getting kids to perform better in school!)

Offering a fear over experience as the basis of decision making isn't going to be helpful to unschooling.
—Joyce Fettroll
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Open to change

It's kind of schoolish, the idea that the more one reads the more one knows. Unschooling is one of those things that isn't accomplished by recitation or test-taking, but only by changing thoughts and actions, beliefs and relationships. It's not easy, it's not quick, and it's not for everyone.
photo by Amy Milstein

Monday, April 17, 2023

Lighter and brighter

The more people who can lighten up, the lighter and brighter the world will be.
(The quote is not from there, but it's a good page.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Children see it

A mom named Nancy, in western Canada, wrote:

Again and again my kids can catch me when I am falling, and help me see the wonder of the small things.I feel so blessed to have this time with them.
—Nancy in BC
photo by Nicole Ní Néill.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Look and rejoice

How much do you need to own to touch a child gently? How much money do you need to have in order to smile?
Look at what you have rather than what you don't have. Look at what is in the world beyond your family and your neighborhood, and rejoice that your child might be able to go out someday and experience things you've never seen or heard or touched or tasted.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of fried potatoes
in a pan we earned with grocery store points
before we had children

Friday, April 14, 2023

Smaller problems

Deb Lewis wrote:

The more you're aware of how good things are when they are good, the easier it will be to wade through the times when things are less good. If you're aware of how lucky you are, everyday problems by comparison can seem smaller, and more manageable."
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Shine on through

What you do shines on, and sometimes through, your children. You affect them, and others can see the effect.
photo by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Precious energy

If you're worried about where your child falls on somebody else's bell curve, somebody else's chart, you are spending precious energy you could be spending loving that child. Each child will learn at his own pace no matter WHAT the surroundings are.
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

On changing

A mom named Sara P. wrote:

This is still an ongoing process for me. I had to re-train myself in a lot of ways. I had to learn a new language. I had to learn to SEE again. I had to learn how to communicate. I had to learn patience. I had to learn how to put others first. .....WOW! Sometimes an old thought will creep in. Sometimes I find myself answering a question in *teacher tone*...but it is so few and far between, and I am so quick to catch it that nobody ever notices except me!
—Sara P
photo by Marin Holmes

Sunday, April 9, 2023


When a mom comes along all indignant about what she "has to do" for her kids and what she is "NOT going to do" for her kids, I take half-perverse, half-sacred pleasure in asking her, once she winds down, what if she had a child who was unable to walk, or get out of bed, or put on his own socks, ever.

Quote is from a text-chat on
Chores, Serving others as a gift, tales of kids helping out voluntarily

Another good place to read would be "have to" (about choices)
photo by Rosie Moon

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Rebuilding yourself

"The other day Linnaea commented that she thought she and Simon would have struggled at school. I replied that I thought everyone struggled a bit with school, but they would have figured out their way in time. What I didn't say was how I don't know if I would have grown into the parent I am today, the generous and joyful parent that I am, if I hadn't chosen unschooling. I think it is possible to be a generous and joyful parent with schooled children, but it is harder to rebuild yourself in the ways that I feel I have done, slowly, incrementally, with unschooling."
—Schuyler Waynforth
in a passing discussion
photo by Sandra Dodd
of old stairs in France,
on a day I was with Schuyler

Friday, April 7, 2023

Don't Be Cruel

On verbal abuse, one thing that has worked here is to remind them that it's their own reputation and self/soul that they're hurting when they're mean. If someone is cruel, it makes him a cruel person. It might hurt the other kid too, but it immediately hurts the one who was mean for meanness' sake. And it disturbs the peace of the others around them. If two kids are fighting, the third kid isn't having peace either.
photo by Sandra Dodd

(I lifted the title from an Elvis song; if you want to hear it, here y'go, and here's some history: Don't be Cruel.)

Thursday, April 6, 2023

The way to be

Children WANT to act in adult ways, so it's important for unschooling parents to be the sort of adults children want to emulate, right then. Not when they grow up, but now.
From a facebook discussion about helpful unschooled kids.
photo by Sarah S.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Full and whole

I have comforted my "inner child" by comforting my own children. I have felt like a stronger, better person by being a stronger, better mom. Then it's not imagination, it's reality.

Helping them grow up whole helped me feel more full and whole myself.

Changing the present, healing the past, hope for the future
(from a comment I made there)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, April 4, 2023


It's okay not to share everything you think.

Children's thoughts are their own, but if you're interesting and interested, they might share their thoughts with you.
photo by Jennie Gomes

Monday, April 3, 2023

Can't see everything

No matter how far you look or imagine, you can't see everything. Children are growing in a living world.
When you look ahead, as far as you can see, look for beauty.

When you look behind, as far as you can, remember the good things.

photo by Stacie Mahoe

Sunday, April 2, 2023

What you have

The difference between poverty and abundance is sometimes the ability to see what one has. There have been times when I didn't have a car, we had a leaky roof, and the washing machine wasn't working. There have been more times that the car and washing machine were functioning, the house was solid, and I forgot to appreciate it.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Enjoyment overflowing

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Rather than asking what he'd like to learn, just do things he *enjoys*, expose him to things you think he might enjoy (as opposed to things you think would be good for him!)

Rather than looking at him as a vessel you want to fill, look at him as a person who is reaching out towards what interests him. Rather than looking at what interests him through a lens of school that filters out everything that wouldn't be done in school, look at *all* that he's interested in: video games, cartoons, skateboarding, swimming, playing with friends ...
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Roya Dedeaux