Monday, July 31, 2023

Way to go!

two girls looking up what kind of sea weeds they found on the beach
Choices are the way to go. Moms can practice them first, and help children have and make them as years go by.
photo by Eva Witsel

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Food without evil

When food is given the status of a religion (the place where sacrifices are made to ensure a positive outcome and long/eternal life), then there IS the necessity of a devil/Satan/"the dark side." When food is just another casual part of life, kids will choose melons over biscuits/cookies and chocolate eggs sometimes.
photo by Trevor Parker, later edited by Holly Dodd
(click it)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

When choices come easily

The idea of "self discipline" isn't as helpful to understanding unschooling as the idea of making mindful choices is. It's similar to the difference between teaching and learning.

If you think of controlling yourself, and of your children controlling themselves, it's still about control. If people live by principles their choices come easily.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, July 28, 2023

The atmosphere of the house

by Joyce Fetteroll, from something longer on her site:

Our job is to create an atmosphere so they can feel good about helping, or an atmosphere that doesn't crush that feeling ... so that "work" feels good.

Someone was asked how they got their child to like broccoli. She answered, "I didn't do anything to make her dislike broccoli." That goes for everything. :-) Broccoli, writing, household tasks, astronomy, reading and so on. Don't do anything to make them dislike helping you.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Will they ever voluntarily help out?
photo by Renee Cabatic

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Look at your child

Look at your child, more than at the game.
People go to therapy not about a video game, but the relationship between them and their parents.
—Sandra Dodd
at 1:37:10 in the July 20 "Self Directed" podcast:
(click here; option of podcast or video)

About Videogames—SERIOUSLY
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

A whole, happy human

Health is much more than input/output. You cannot, by a dietary chart, create a whole, happy human. It is possible, by dietary restrictions and by shame to take a potentially healthy person and make them sad and avoidant of those foods and the people who were providing them.

from a discussion on limiting food
photo by Sarah S.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Acts of caring

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

There are times in life that you won't feel like you can take care of others around you as well as you'd like. You need nurturing yourself and other people's neediness starts to be draining on you.

I've felt that, too.

But I've also found that if I focus more on "seeing" my kids with loving-eyes focus, consciously choose to pay attention to what I love about them, then I actually begin to feel more nourished and strengthened by them, and by the very acts of caring for them.
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Learn-Nothing-Day Eve

Learn what you need to learn before midnight. Have a great holiday and vacation! Hope it's smooth and peaceful, relaxing and restorative.

New Logo Credits (2020, new)
image created of photos by thirteen people, all credited at the link above.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Social obligations

Probably in every culture there are ceremonial and social meals. There are times when eating food with other people creates or strengthens bonds, or when sharing bread or a drink has spiritual significance. One taste of a wedding cake is better than turning down wedding cake altogether, because it's the ceremonial blessing of a marriage. If people are toasting with alcohol and you don't or can't drink alcohol (ever, or at that time), at least join the toast with water. To refrain from joining a toast is worse than an insult; it's like a public curse. One who pointedly fails to toast is standing up against the crowd and saying "I hope your project fails horribly" (or whatever it might be). So let your children know those things.

In the absence of a social obligation to eat at least a token amount, let your children choose not to eat if they don't want to. If the purpose of food is the sustenance of the body and the mind, then let that principle override schedules and expectations and traditions, most of the time. Your children will be more willing to eat to be polite if you only press it on rare occasions.

From "Social Obligations and Oddities," page 168 (or 190)
of The Big Book of Unschooling
which recommends
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, July 21, 2023

All kinds of learning

an ice cream truck in Liverpool, ferris wheel in the background

"Learning happens all the time. The brain never stops working and it is not possible to divide time up into 'learning periods' versus 'non-learning periods.' Everything that goes on around a person, everything they hear, see, touch, smell, and taste, results in learning of some kind."
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Liverpool

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Gratitude and respect

Being a good parent makes a person more attractive to the other parent, and makes the other parent grateful and respectful. Gratitude and respect make it easier to have compassion and patience.

page 270 (or 311) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Brie Jontry

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


Unschooling works best when parents let go of ownership of what kids know.

What a child notices on her own, or discovers, or figures out, will connect to other things in her that the parent wouldn't have predicted, or known about. That's good!

Connections are personal, and each web of knowledge is of and within that person.

To make it easier for a child to learn—to facilitate her learning—the parent can provide opportunities, materials, tools, and time. Answer questions. Maybe make suggestions, or play with the child, but don't take over, if you can manage to hang back.

You can learn about learning by watching your child learn.

What unschooling is about
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Monday, July 17, 2023

Lyrical magic...

Nurture your own curiosity and amazement. Let life be marvelous. Let nature and music be bigger than you are, and find gratitude in being able to be in the presence of the lyrical magic of the everyday world.

What will help wonder return to you? Pay closer attention to young children. See what they're seeing. Think about what they're asking. Wonder at what they wonder.
(quote from 279 or 322 of Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Sarah S.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

There is safety in happiness

Holly and Adam in costume

I think the most dangerous thing for a kid is unhappiness. When a child wants out and away from parents, then things outside the house can seem appealing—even questionable strangers in cars with tinted windows, who will say "meet me in the alley."

And that has been happening since before the internet.

from a chat on Internet Safety and related, suprising matters
photo by Julie D

Saturday, July 15, 2023


It's interesting to see what seems dangerous from place to place and family to family.

Be near your kids, let them explore, be ready to help. Remember to breathe!
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Friday, July 14, 2023

Moment, hour, day, lifetime

How you live in the moment affects how you live in the hour, and the day, and the lifetime.
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Beams of light

My daughter worked on a farm for a few years. Now she is working for the county, helping people learn to farm and to produce food for community uses. The program's students visit working farms, as part of what they do, so they can see what works well in this area, and ask questions. They help out, while they're there.

When Holly sent this photo, she called it "God's Tractor." I suppose it was on one of the farms they visited. Sunbeams. "Beam" is an interesting word—"light beams." Wood beams—those are just heavy, solid things. The wood doesn't beam down on us; that would be dangerous. Both uses of "beam" are very old, though.

The "beam" terms used by gymnasts and by aviators are newer. Holly's paternal grandfather was a Navy pilot in the Pacific during WWII, doing reconnaissance flights. He was a flight instructor, but he told us that unofficially, in Hawaii they used a local radio station to return to base, rather than the prescribed military method. That's one meaning of "on the beam"—to follow a beaming radio signal toward its source.

Seeing sunbeams shining right down on something could easily be part of the reason for sun-based religions. Coronas and halos are sometimes shown as beams of light, in religious art and in kids' imaginations and drawings.

It's good, when a photo of a tractor in New Mexico can lead to the history of England, and of English; to ancient Egyptian religion (and Mexico's and Peru's...); to medieval and Renaissance art in Europe; to Hawaii, and to women's gymnastics all over the world.

I googled a question. Here:
Are light sabers beams of light?
photo by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, July 12, 2023


This tractor is on the family farm in California where it has been since it was new, many years ago. Perhaps, these days, it is "yard art." I don't know if it runs, but the vision and image of it, the history and the memories, are like a museum in themselves, for those who know any of the family, or the history of the area.

I knew a family with an electric toaster from the early 20th century. I saw it in the 1970s, so it's twice as old now, wherever it is. It didn't work, but it was fun to imagine it, in the fancy house it once lived in, far from New Mexico. The bread would need to be turned, halfway through. The metal itself was embossed with simple floral art nouveau designs.

Non-working items can still help others learn, and envision, and remember.

Everyday Art
photo by Denaire Nixon

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Toys and tools

There are machines, conveyances, tools, that are so beautiful that people make models of them, or working toys for children. Front-end loaders are that beautiful, to those who need or use or have watched them work.

Tractors can be that, or combines, or just the truck to pull other tools, plows, trailers.

If a child, or an adult, can get excited about a piece of equipment, try to take time to watch those machines in action, if you get a chance. Not too close; from a safe distance, or from inside your car, if you can. When you're out, find people digging, building, repairing—replacing signs with a crane, or going up in a cherry-picker to change streetlight bulbs—do it for your kids or for yourself.

Mom's Interests Enriching Kids' Lives
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, July 10, 2023

Shuffle it up

What unschoolers do to help other unschoolers is to share how they came to unschooling, and the effect it has had on their children and their home lives.

It helps for new unschoolers to read some, then try some, maybe meet some people if they can, read more, try more, maybe listen to something or watch something, try more, and shuffle it up that way.
. . . .

Those new to unschooling need most or all of the same things others needed when they were new: local information, access to laws and policies, reassurance, suggestions for deschooling, answers to questions (although the answers are ever more easily available as people collect up the best answers of the past). They need inspiration and ideas.

If you're new: read, change a little; read more, change more; repeat.

From page 19 or 20 of The Big Book of Unschooling, which links to the help page:

photo by Dan Vilter

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Quiet trust

"Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them."
—Caren Knox
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Control, more or less

"Unfortunately most people are convinced that when control fails it's because they didn't control enough."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, July 7, 2023

Being a child's friend

Pam Sorooshian, on being a child's friend:

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be your child's friend. Do what it takes to earn their friendship—be supportive and kind and honest and trustworthy and caring and generous and loyal and fun and interesting and interested in them and all the other things that good friends are to each other. Be the best 40 year old friend you can be (or whatever age you are).

People use "I'm the parent, not a friend," as an excuse to be mean, selfish, and lazy. Instead, be the adult in the friendship. Be mature. You've BEEN a five-year-old and your child has not been a forty-year-old, so you have an advantage in terms of long-term and wider perspective. Use that advantage to be an even better friend. You know how to be kinder and less self-centered and you know how beneficial it is to put forth the effort.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of six-year-old Adam and his mother and friend, Julie

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Options over rules

Probably some families make rules so that their kids will learn to follow rules. It's possible. Too much practice can kill the joy, though. Being forced to play an instrument can create an adult who doesn't even bother to own one of the instruments he knows how to play, because how he's out of school he doesn't "have to." If someone made me practice eating before every meal, I wouldn't be very hungry.

So here I have kids who can sleep as long as they want, who set their alarms and get up; who have all kinds of clothes and no rules, who dress well and appropriately to the situation; who don't have to come home but they DO come home.

Something important is happening.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Children being themselves

Life will be better for all involved if you don't label your children's intelligence, or processing speed, or likelihood to reverse numbers, or ability to pay attention to something deadly boring. Don't drug your children into being still enough to sit on an assembly line. It has nothing on earth to do with natural learning or unschooling. Neither does "giftedness."

The quote is from The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Up with your thoughts

Laying down our thoughts in deference to an expert's, even if they don't seem right to us?

Some people do. No people should.
photo by Sarah S.

P.S. We were talking about parenting, and unschooling. It was not about longstanding enmity between nations, or about following laws. I have seen people grab up my words and use them out of context to do damage to themselves or others. How 'bout DON'T do that, okay?

Context: Better Answers to Everyday Questions

Monday, July 3, 2023

Conscious, continuous and mindful

In a partnership, be conscious, continuous and mindful.

It doesn't really do any good to be their partner once a week. If you're mean four times and nice one time, that's not enough.

Conscious, continuous and mindful.

Partnerships and Teams in the Family.
There's a sound file there. It's a good one.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Kids Helping Voluntarily

Deborah D. shared a laundry story:

My 10 year old daughter was frustrated yesterday because I hadn't done her laundry yet. When I offered to show her how to do it (I offered it as a possible solution, not as a punitive "do it yourself" thing), she was very excited. She delightfully did several loads of laundry yesterday and today and told me how much fun it is to do.

Today my 8 year old saw what was happening and has done two loads. I happen to like doing laundry so I'm sure that helped—there's been none of the martyr energy I have around other household work.
—Deborah D.
photo by Chelsea Thurman, of kids who could be waiting for laundry...

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Stepping away from rules

To a question about how to move from rules to principles and choices:

Gradually, without fanfare, be more positive and more supportive of her desires and requests.

Here is an antidote to your no-speed-limits fear. It's called "The Beautiful Park" by Robyn Coburn. It's about people getting off bicycles to walk. I think it could replace your fearful background with something gentle and peaceful.

Read about why, and what others have seen.

Try it a little.

Don't expect her not to think you're crazy at first; wait a while.

Watch her reaction. Feel your own thoughts. Lay your fears out to dry in the air and sunshine.
photo by Cally Brown