Sunday, December 31, 2023

Learning as much or more

Unschooling doesn't mean not learning — it means learning without the trappings of school. It's not unlearning or uneducating. It's only unschooling — it points out a contrast in approaches to learning. My unschooled kids are learning as much or more than their schooled friends (and that includes home schooled or institution schooled).
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Colleen Prieto

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Open up and out

Some kids are more monkey than their parents are. When that happens, it can be invigorating to find an adult who will converse and joke with a kid, even if it's not something the parents would have chosen.

Openness to experience is what it's called—interest and curiosity. Being willing to explore, to try new things, to open upwards and outwards.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, December 29, 2023

Overlapping goodness

Although the ideal is to focus on one things at a time, moms with kids (dads too, sometimes) can become expert at two things at once, and it can be fun. Think of times you've tasted two tastes together, or heard two things at once. Sometimes they blend; sometimes they are jarring.

It's easy to see two things at once, or to notice a combination or juxtaposition you would not have expected.

Thinking many thoughts, and deciding which to keep and which to set aside is the basis of choices, and of wise decision making!

Whirl and Twirl
photo by Mark Elrick

Thursday, December 28, 2023

They are whole people

Your children are not works in progress. They are whole people, now and from the day they were born. If you can try to see that, rather than think people are not finished until they're finished, it might help you.
photo by Cátia Maciel

more context, Always Learning, January 2012

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Distant visions

I love being able to see, and to share, pictures of things I have seen, or have NOT seen, in this blog. Jen Keefe's family went to New York City, and the technology of the day allowed her to share some of the things she saw. Her generosity lets me pass it on.

When I was a kid, our teachers encouraged us to have pen pals in other places. The purpose was to broaden our knowledge of foreign states and countries, but there weren't photos involved, and certainly not videos with sound! Messages weren't quickly exchanged.

Being able to see and hear other people, places, accents, languages, birds, animals, trees, foods... appreciate this as the recent miracle it is! Our worlds have expanded, even from inside our houses.

Your Own Model of the Universe

photo by Jen Keefe

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Important fun

The separation of learning and fun is the only thing that keeps learning from BEING fun.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 25, 2023


How you view a thing is affected by physical realities (height, vision, lighting), cognitive aspects (familiarity, spatial ability), emotional factors (attraction or revulsion), age, experience, biological states (hungry? sleepy? impatient?), etc. Anything adults and children see or do "together" is sure to be different for each.

See that as a good thing, as a feature of a rich life. They are not you. Shared experiences are still individually perceived.
(These words aren't there; others are.)
photo by Abby Davis

Sunday, December 24, 2023

More peace

The more local and personal peace there is, the more peace there will be in the world.
photo by Denaire Nixon

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merriment and peace

Inventory your own tools. What do you already know that can make you a more peaceful parent? What tricks and skills can you bring into your relationships with members of your family?
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, December 22, 2023

It seems miraculous.

Alysia Berman wrote:

I tell people that I'm amazed every day by what my kids know and learn. It seems miraculous. It's not, really. It's normal. I see it as miraculous because I was indoctrinated to believe that none of this could happen outside of school and without teachers.
—Alysia Berman
photo by Julie D

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Gentle with a child

We make choices ALL the time. Learning to make better ones in small little ways, immediate ways, makes life bigger and better. Choosing to be gentle with a child, and patient with ourselves, and generous in ways we think might not even show makes our children more gentle, patient and generous.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Hearts renewed

I wrote this verse for a Christmas card we made when my children were eight, five, and three years old.
Abundant joy,
   a special toy,
      warmth and firelight,
         carols at twilight;

Memories of old,
   children to hold,
      comforting food,
         and hearts renewed.

More about that, written in 2014
art by Kirby Dodd, in 1994,
with printing and finish work by relatives and friends

Warm, glowing traditions

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Abundance abounds!

I'm sharing this photo and note from Megan Valnes, with her permission:
Hello Sandra!

I thought of you today while observing my three youngest children having fun together and bonding while playing with the iPad. 🙂 Had I not opened our lives to the principles of Radical Unschooling, there is a high probability that this moment would never have happened. I remain grateful everyday for the wisdom I have acquired through you, your participants, and the daily practice of unschooling principles. Thank you. Abundance abounds!
—Megan Valnes
(e-mail, December 2023)
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, December 18, 2023

Positive, inspired, happy

Ripandeep Saran wrote:

When I was 14 years old, I asked the leader of the Sikh ashram I was visiting what to do when I am feeling blue and he told me the scriptures advise meditation, service and giving gratitude. He told me that it is also the same advice for when you are happy.

This all helps me keep my cup full. That is what works best for me - keeping my cup full of positive, inspired, happy energy as much as possible. Life has its ups and downs, but I like to focus more on the ups and put myself in the best possible position to help myself out when I am down. I am more sensitive than most people, and I feel very deeply. If I had not learned early in life how to deal with my lows, life might not have been as wonderful as it has been.
—Ripandeep Saran
(a.k.a. Rippy Dusseldorp)

The quote is from

but I also saved it at
photo by Marta Venturini

Sunday, December 17, 2023

When children have choices...

To set the scene, it was the week before Christmas, in Australia, years ago.

Jo Isaac wrote:

This morning Kai opened his advent calender, ate the chocolate, and then said 'Ugh. I'm so sick of eating all this chocolate! Please can I have a plate of cold food.' (It's *really* hot here today!) He's now saving his chocolates for when he wants them, and eating a plate of baby corn, cucumber and apple. 🙂
—Jo Isaac

True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets
photo by Susan May

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Positively joyful

Deb Lewis wrote:

Someone once suggested that having a joyful life as one of my goals was potentially damaging to my son because he wouldn't have an "authentic" experience (or something like that). I said I was willing to risk those terrible dangers.
—Deb Lewis
photo by Sarah S.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Choosing more peace

There will never be perfect peace. We can't even define "peace."
There can be a closer approximation to ideal peace. People can come nearer to the way they would like to be, but only incrementally, choice by choice.

If you want to live peacefully, make the more peaceful choice.

Peace is all about choices.

To have peace in your house, be more peaceful.
doodly art by a younger Holly Dodd

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Defending ideas

Me/Sandra, in a discussion once:

Don't post what you're not able or willing to defend. That's not a rule for this group, it's just something that makes plain sense in the whole of life. Don't say in public something you don't really understand well, or that you don't think is worth defending.

Read a little.
Just some.
Don't keep writing.

Read a little. Try a little. Wait a while. Watch.

That's if you want to change.

The discussions CAN and have and will continue to help people.
photo by Sarah S.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Plain, thoughtful underpinnings

Strength doesn't need to be high-tech or glitzy. Plain, thoughtful underpinnings and principles can be enough to quietly strengthen a family for many long years.
photo by Dylan Lewis

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

More peaceful, with practice

"With practice, the moments of panic and fear become fewer and farther between."
—Diana Jenner
photo by Jihong Tang

Monday, December 11, 2023

Every little good thing

De-sludging one's thoughts can be helped by noticing every little good thing one does, that others do, that happens by chance. Gathering little sticks might not be as good as chopping big firewood, but until the ability to do big projects returns, gather the little sticks of hope and remember to be grateful and to find abundance, even if it's abundant Ramen soup, or abundant paper and pencils for drawing or making lists or playing games
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, December 10, 2023

History and tradition

Newness can dazzle us, and the future is confusing. But right around you are simple, plain, useful, interesting, solid bits of history and tradition—things that were there before you were born, things with their own stories, whose makers might be gone and forgotten, but the artifacts remain.
The photo today is a stile I saw in Texas in 2013. Stiles and fences have existed in various forms for a long time. There are quiet antiques all around us.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 9, 2023

All-slightly-better Everything

Someone wrote that learning about unschooling felt like learning a new language.

I responded
It's like learning a new everything, but an all-slightly-better everything.
photo by Renee Cabatic

Friday, December 8, 2023

Quietly, yourself

Unschooling takes a long time to learn. Rushing a child to understand something complicated while the parent isn’t even looking in the right direction to see unschooling is a problem that’s easily solved. Stop pressuring the child. Stop “communicating” the confusion. Quietly empty yourself of much of what you think you know.
photo by Denaire Nixon

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Help, often

Pay attention to your child and help him do/find/see/experience things that will interest him. Help him be his best self as often as you can.
photo by Kelly Drewery

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Paths made of life

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Looking back, we can often see the path pretty clearly. But we can't look ahead and know what the path is going to be.
photo by a realtor, on an unschooler's property

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Shine a light

"Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don't drag or push them."
—Pam Sorooshian

How to Be a Good Unschooler, by Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, December 4, 2023

Practical positivity

From a half-secret page on mental health (my writing, Marta's collection):

If a person with marked highs and lows gets too involved with depressing politics or scary or sad this'n'that, or doesn't gather a tool box of self-soothing thoughts and behaviors (breathing, walking, sending birthday cards and thank you cards to other people, singing, playing sports—different sets for different people, but some positive, uplifting habits), the low can turn to a depression that isn't easy to rise out of, and can be nearly impossible to function from.
photo by Linda Wyatt

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Interesting and good

From 2002:

One of my favorite things about my kids, and what makes unschooling easy with them, is that they're not cynical or critical about the interests of others in the family, or of the neighbors, or of their friends. They assume that everything has the potential to be interesting and good.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Kindness, generosity and joy

Meredith wrote:

Kindness and generosity and joy are important to me. So if I look at my daughter and she seems dissatisfied or bored, I want to do something to help—I want to spread some kindness and joy. So I'll look for ways to do that. Will it help to visit more friends? Go someplace with animals (my daughter loves animals)? Is she happy with her current animation program or is she ready for something more complex? Has she finished her latest graphic novel? Does she need new shoes? Do I need to spend more time hanging out with her? Play a game, maybe (video or board game)? Go on an adventure together? Write together? I suggest things based on what I know about her—what sorts of things make her smile, light her up with enthusiasm, or pique her curiosity.

When I focus on those sorts of goals, learning takes care of itself. That's something that can be hard to see right away, especially if you have some schoolish expectations as to how learning happens. Read more about natural learning so you can build up some confidence.
—Meredith Novak
photo by Julie D

Friday, December 1, 2023

Easier to get to yes

The other day Emma, 6, asked me a series of questions to which all of the answers were yes. She stopped and stared at my head for a bit and said "Yeah, ya sure got a lot of yesses in there."

I loved that.

I used to have a lot of "I can't" in there. Saying yes more often has helped me be more clear about the difference between can't, won't, and don't want to. When that all becomes clear, yesses are easier to get to.
—Amy Kidwell
photo by Molly Mulvaney