Thursday, August 31, 2023

Healthy attitudes

"I don't believe sugar is addictive. I believe some people naturally like sweets more than others and I believe our attitude about sugar, about any food, creates more problems than the food itself. I think one of the best things we can do to ensure a healthy attitude about foods for our kids is to not screw up their psychology with fear and guilt and dire warnings."
—Deb Lewis

The quote is the conclusion of a longer story by Deb Lewis here:
photo by Sandra Dodd, of cupcakes by Julie Anne Koetsier

In 2011, when the quote was posted, there were two good comments you can see here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Twisty turny now

Part of being your child's partner is helping her learn how to be in the world, how to live comfortably and fully and considerately and legally. ­čśë

Twisting and turning to get away from the world can work sometimes (like my kids never went to school, for instance) but you can't twist yourself right off the planet or out of the present year.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Changing thoughts

double rainbow
"Changing our own thought patterns is hard and it can help to have strong motivation along with examples of alternative ways to think about the same situation."
—Pam Sorooshian

Motivation might be wanting to be the sort of parent who can unschool well. Alternative ways to see things are offered in Just Add Light and Stir, and at the pages linked from the posts. Best wishes finding jewels to brighten your life.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 28, 2023

Choosing joy

Tina Bragdon wrote:

I saw choosing joy was SO much better....really...unschooling and life just flowed....the relationships piece of an unschooling lifestyle was so much more full and sweet. My mind was calmer. It helped me deal better with those niggling fears that popped up about unschooling when I chose to be in THIS MOMENT....seeing the joy and the fun of the moment settled me instead of me stewing for days about if my kids were learning or what about this, or that.
—Tina Bragdon

More by Tina at
photo by Sarah S.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Interesting portals

Whatever is treated as an interesting portal to the universe can become one.

While you're living your life, open as many doors as you can.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Dancing in the light

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

I once described the difference between teaching and learning as where you shine the spotlight. In teaching, the spotlight is on the teacher. There may or may not be a learner taking in what the teacher is doing.

With learning, the spotlight is on the learner. The source is unimportant. There might be a teacher. There might be a set of blocks. There might just be the learner's thoughts.

If that's called "teaching" then it pulls the spotlight away from the learner. The light shines on the source as if it were the actor in the process.

I think parents like to feel like a child's learning is their project. If the teacher isn't in the spotlight, then something they aren't in control of or directing is happening.

—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd (click it)

Friday, August 25, 2023

The important things

Having a clean house isn't anywhere near as important as having a house that all of us enjoy living in. Having dishes done isn't more important than hanging out with Simon and Linnaea. Having a vacuumed floor isn't more important than letting Simon or Linnaea watch a television show uninterrupted. Having my to-do list cleared isn't more important than going to the game store because Simon wants to get Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow for the DS and we could fit in a 20 minute game of laser tag and check out Casltevania Portrait of Ruin from the library. Actually, I don't have a to-do list, but if I did...
— Schuyler Waynforth

If you don't make them work...
photo by Julie D

Thursday, August 24, 2023

A better friend

"One of my epiphanies as a parent actually came when I realized I was not being as good a friend to my own kids as I was to my adult friends. Changing that made a world of difference."
—Lyla Wolfenstein
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

More or less

Leah Rose wrote:

I've been thinking about that saying "All things in moderation." Next time someone says it to me, I think I might just ask them: "Do you mean we should have joy in moderation? Should we have peace in moderation? Kindness in moderation? Patience in moderation? Forgiveness? Compassion? Humility?"

Honestly, I used to think it sounded like a very wise and balanced philosophy. Now, the more I think about it the less sense it makes.
—Leah Rose

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

"Life is more fun now."

Amy (amylizkid1) wrote:

I love these moments. The other night I was making dinner, and dd (5) says "While you're up, could you get me my gummy worms?" The old me probably would have barked something about how I was in the middle of making dinner. But I said "Okay" in a pleasant way. She says "Mom, what's right and what's left?" So I look around the corner at her and say "Your left hand is holding the remote, your right is holding your head." ds: "Okay, they're on the left side of my cupboard."

It seems like such a little thing, but I was so happy that I had given her the space to figure out something that she was interested in, instead of shutting her down with my crankiness. Change does feel good, and I love all these lovely, simple moments we have now. I love that life is more fun now.
— Amy
photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, August 21, 2023

Learning and growing

Someone had written that she had the urge to tell her daughters to do something more productive than playing My Little Ponies. Others reminded her of the importance of play, and of bonding.

I wrote:
"Production" is for factories. Your children are learning and growing. There is nothing they need to "produce."

I sent her the link on "Focus," but this one is better:
photo by Holly Dodd
(who also styled the pony's mane)


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Better than worrying...

Virginia Warren wrote:

Worrying feels like *doing something*, maybe because it is so time-consuming and exhausting.

Every moment we spend worrying about if we're doing "enough" is a moment in which we could be doing something to improve our relationships, even if it's nothing more than lifting our own mood.
—Virginia Warren

More here:
photo by Chris Cabatic

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Trusting and close

The urge to control anything, whether it's food or learning or exactly how people sit or exactly what people wear, is bad for the relationship between the parent and the child. Anything that is bad for the relationship is bad for learning, because unschooling is built very largely on a trusting relationship and a close relationship.

Transcribed and saved by Amber Ivey, from UnschoolingSupport's podcast on Food
words by Sandra Dodd (thank you, Amber)
photo by Hinano (thank you, Hinano)


Friday, August 18, 2023

What he learns

Don't look at what can be learned. Look at what IS learned. If the parents can change their point of view and expectations and understanding well enough, they will see learning all the time.

There's no advantage in looking at what you wish or hope a child will learn. Look at what he learns.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Think deeply; respond kindly

"Focussing on being my child's partner is helping me to place my real life children front and centre of my attention and to think deeply and respond kindly and appropriately to their particular needs in this particular moment."
—Zoe Thompson-Moore
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Without effort, without knowing

When people ask a structured family how much time it takes to homeschool the response usually ranges from three hours a day to six hours a day (much more than kids actually spend in classrooms in school). When you ask an unschooling family how much time it takes to homeschool, first there's a pause. I've heard, in rapid succession in groups of unschoolers, "None" and "All of it." Their range is it takes from zero hours a day to 24 hours a day.

When learning is recognized in the fabric of life and encouraged, when families make their decisions based on what leads to more interesting and educational ends, children learn without effort, often without even knowing it, and parents learn along with them.

All Kinds of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Value kids as kids

Meredith wrote:

Generally speaking, kids are Busy people. Its good to see that and value what they are doing. When we don't, its easy to slip into resenting them for "just goofing off" while we grown ups are busy doing the "important" stuff. An important aspect of radical unschooling is valuing kids as kids, not adults-in-training, and so valuing kid-stuff. Playing Green Dinosaur smashes Legoland, watching tv, daydreaming, all are just as important as cleaning the kitchen.
—Meredith Novak
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 14, 2023


"The goal of unschooling is not education. It is to help a child be who she is and blossom into who she will become. Learning happens as a side effect."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Which way?

Picture yourself at a familiar intersection of highways. Which is the best way to go?

People go all of those ways, or there wouldn't be roads. You've probably gone all of those ways yourself, many times. How did you decide?

I pictured the I-40/I-25 intersection, in Albuquerque. It's confusing from the air, so I chose another image, one in Georgia. Maybe someone reading this is in Georgia, and lives near the roads pictured above. But in my case, one goes toward the airport, south of town. One goes north to Santa Fe, and Espa├▒ola, where I grew up. One goes west toward the Rio Grande, and downtown. The other, though, the one that goes east, is the way to my house.

Picture yourself in a familiar situation with your family. Which is the best way to go?

It depends where you want to end up.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Kind is kinder

When you are kind, it changes the kind of person you are. When you are patient, it makes you a better person.

More simply put, kind is kinder, patient is more patient and better is better.
photo by Julie D

Friday, August 11, 2023

Action (rather than REaction)

When a parent's choices are based on being the same or being the opposite of their own parents or of anyone else, they're reacting. Sometimes in a healing phase that can help. It can help to have role models. It can help to have bad examples, marked like crime scenes in our memories, to remind us. Let the reactions be part of a temporary healing phase, though. Let reactions be a stepping stone toward mindful actions.
photo by Shawn Smythe Haunschild
from an alleyway in Sweden

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The trick is...

We were at a bar-b-q party and a 5 yr old friend dug into the cooler, pulled out a coke-a-cola and asked his Ma could he have it.

She said, "Heavens no, especially with that chocolate cake on your plate."

She then looked at me asking, "How do you do it?"

I told her, "I don't restrict what my kids eat," and pointed to their plates. XuMei had watermelon, strawberries, green beans and chocolate cake on her plate. Xander had chosen salmon, corn on the cob, watermelon, strawberries and a root beer to drink.

Later I was telling Chris (my spouse) the story and Xander, who I thought was asleep in the back of the van, perked up and said, "The trick is, there is no trick."
photo by Sarah S.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Softer nests

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

If you have a child who doesn't like tags in clothing, you take out tags. Some kids find that the world is full of tags that need to be removed and that's what making a nest is about, removing the tags.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

A side benefit

medieval-style art in a tube station
"Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of 'side benefit'."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of medieval art on tile in a tube station in London

Monday, August 7, 2023

A different angle

Something near your house, or in your town, that you see every day, would be exotic and beautiful to someone from another part of the world. Two things near your house, combined by looking at one while you're seeing part of another, might be worth a photograph and some loving thoughts.

Find beauty where you are today, whether you're a tourist or in your own kitchen.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a roofline near the road in Stroud, Gloucestershire,
in the Cotswolds. Click it to see the larger image.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Enthusiasm and clarity

The best thing for ANY unschooler is to move quickly toward becoming so confident that you can easily explain what you're doing, with enthusiasm and clarity. Don't muddle along.

Do it!          really GET it!
photo by Shan Burton

Saturday, August 5, 2023


Help children live playful lives by being a playful adult. Play with words, and ideas; play with shape, form, and color. Let children see you smile.

Steam Fair Sights and Sounds
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 4, 2023

Steam-power, restored

The first time I went to Hollycombe Steam Fair was in 2011. I have been twice since, always with other unschoolers. Part of what I love about the whole collection of steam-powered machinery is that it has been found, gathered up and moved, restored, and maintained by volunteers who learned how to repair machinery from before they were born. Curiosity, a love of technology and of engineering, and a sense of wonder at how people lived at the turn of the century before this one have proven again that learning doesn't require school, or a curriculum, tests, or degrees. If the engine runs and if the gears are all set up so that the ride moves smoothly and safely, there is success.

There are also calliopes, and if you click below, you can see and hear more.

Steamfair Sights and Sounds
photos by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Examine ideas yourself

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

If a parent has found something that works for their family without understanding why it worked and how much personality played in it, then for others it's little better than rolling dice and picking some technique at random.

On the other hand, those who are living examined lives. thinking about and discussing why something works in the context of growing relationships, that's way better than dice! And no one should swallow what's said uncritically. They should take it in, turn it over, ask questions and examine it for themselves.

Critical examination is better for reaching clear goals than pretty sentiments of "following the heart" and "mom knows best."

—Joyce Fetteroll, 2008
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

My heart leaps

Susan May wrote:

Even though my mind believes in my childrens' abilities, my heart sometimes need some validation. And every time one of my children does something for the first time, completely of their own volition, my heart leaps and then pumps joy to every cell in my body. Each time this happens the truth: that children will learn all they need to, in their own time—becomes etched a little deeper in my bones. And this is where the magic lies—not so much in the "firstness" of each new skill or idea, but in the fact that they completely own these moments."
—Susan May
photo by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Bright morning

"The morning of the world," someone might say, meaning just as the world was new and bright. From this we and our children can talk about and learn about poetry and figurative speech. "The morning of his life..." when likening a lifetime to a day, with its own first light, eventual afternoon, and twilight. These are common references. "In Queen Victoria's day..."
photo by Kathryn Dubay, at Killarney Beach, Victoria (Australia), early one morning