Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Growing and learning


"Things change. Our kids get older. They outgrow stages we think they never will. They learn all they need to know, in their own time."
—Heather Booth

SandraDodd.com/anxiety
photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, February 26, 2024

Say yes when you can

My kids are great at delayed gratification, all of them. They have saved money, earned money, bought small things, and large things, waited for friends to visit, waited for holidays and parties, and because they're busy and secure people, they could always find something to do. But they were also generally sure that as soon as it WAS possible, they would do it, or have it. That's because they had lived their lives with parents who were their partners and who helped them, rather than thwarted or frustrated them.

Some kids get to 18 and they're sick and tired of waiting, and they don't want to wait anymore for ANYthing. Some turn to drugs, drinking, partying, charge cards, driving too fast... When parents have a choice of saying yes or no, and they choose 'no' because they think it's good for their child, they are putting that pressure and tension in the bank to gain interest.

Say yes when you can, especially if it's about something that will help your child learn. If you can't decide, think "Will he be happy and learn? Will this help with unschooling?"
2013, Sandra
of kids who were in their early- to mid-20s then

SandraDodd.com/no
photo by Holly Dodd
of herself wearing a top from the 1970s that I handed down to her, with an orchid plant rescued from a trash can

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Quietly empty yourself

Quietly empty yourself of much of what you think you know. If it were working, there would’ve been no reason to ask us for help.

With a mind open to change, then, go here: Read a Little

SandraDodd.com/quiet
photo by James Coburn IV

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The world expands

When people are able to relax into learning without the self-consciousness of whether what they're learning will impress the neighbors or make them more money, the world expands hugely.

Quote from side commentary, but this works:
SandraDodd.com/chores/option
photo by Nina Haley

Friday, February 23, 2024

A learning environment

Our entire life created a learning environment for our children, every day, at home or out in the world.

Debating How Kids Learn
photo by Jesper Conrad

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Our own real thoughts

In your head, you have some repeating-loop messages. Some are telling you you're doing a good job, but I bet some of them are not. Some are telling you that you have no choice, but you do.
We can't really think until we think in our own words without the prejudicial labels and without mistaking the voices in our heads for our own real thoughts.

SandraDodd.com/voices

SandraDodd.com/witness
photo by Christine Milne

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

An interested and interesting adult

Someone wrote to me: "I’m starting to see why you admire John Holt. Will you tell me more about him?" I responded:
I admire his courage and his writings. ...

He wasn't married. He didn't have kids. What he learned he learned from other people's kids in classrooms and when visiting in their homes, and he was SO interested in kids that their lives were different just for his being there, so what he saw often was how a child is in the presence of a really interested and interesting adult. That's the part I want to emulate.
Because John Holt was SO interested in children, every time he interacted with one, he saw a child interacting with a fascinated adult. THIS is one of the things unschoolers need to remember. When the adult brings boredom, cynicism, criticism and doubt to the table, that's what he'll see and that's how he'll see it, and it will be no fault of the child's whatsoever.

SandraDodd.com/johnholt
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Be reliable

It will add calm, value, and solidity to your life if you're reliable, honest, and trustworthy.
SandraDodd.com/trust
(Thanks to Amber Ivey for saving a quote I could build from here.)
photo by Sandra Dodd
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Monday, February 19, 2024

Compassion and kindness

Robyn Coburn wrote:

I think that any time we get caught up in the idea that the child is "being disrespectful" (self-focused thinking) it can be harder to get back to thinking about what they are feeling, the need is they are expressing, and how to help them either fill the need, or cope with it being impossible right now, with compassion and kindness.
—Robyn Coburn

SandraDodd.com/robyn/respect
photo by Robin Bentley

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Enthusiasm for happenstance

A researcher wrote:
Sandra's theory of "strewing" highlights the role of the parent, both in the support they provide children and how they reproduce enthusiasm for happenstance.

I really like the buildup to "happenstance," and the use of that word, but as picky as I am, I want to clarify that we didn't "reproduce enthusiasm." We HAD enthusiasm.


Vanessa Bertozzi, from her MIT Master's thesis on unschoolers and media,
2009, page 80

SandraDodd.com/strewing describes strewing better.
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Being safe, being trusted

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

If your default answer is no—by the *kids'* standards even if *you* feel you say yes a lot—then they're likely to 1) see the world in terms of impossibilities rather than possibilities or 2) ask someone else who may be less trustworthy.
—Joyce Fetteroll
Be their trusted partner.


SandraDodd.com/chores/appreciation
photo by Rosie Moon

Friday, February 16, 2024

CORRECTION ("When Jayn Reads")

Sorry for the bad link before.


Robyn Coburn wrote:

There is no doubt that one day, in the fullness of time and at the right time, Jayn will become a reader. I have no doubt that she will slide into reading with the relatively effortless grace that so many other Unschoolers report of their children as they gain literacy with their parents’ support in their text-filled environments.
. . . .
Without any pushing, independence will come at the right time for Jayn’s needs. Without any pushing, her only struggles will be with her own impatience—not any of mine. At the right time Jayn will launch herself into the world of independent discovery through solitary reading, and I will see less of her. I will have to wait to be invited into her private world that presently is a place that is always open to me. And I will treasure the memory of when I was as essential to her understanding as I hope to always be to her heart.

She will be a reader. But I’m in no hurry.
—Robyn Coburn



When Jayn was seven, her mom wrote that (and more, and it's beautiful: When Jayn Reads). Jayn is 24 now, and earned a university degree with honors. For the follow-up about Jayn's reading, you can listen to (or watch) this interview of Robyn, by Cecilie and Jesper Conrad: Robyn Coburn | From Doubt to Devotion - The Unschooling Transformation

SandraDodd.com/robyncoburn
photo by Jayn Coburn

ORIGINAL POST, Corrected

"When Jayn Reads"


Robyn Coburn wrote:

There is no doubt that one day, in the fullness of time and at the right time, Jayn will become a reader. I have no doubt that she will slide into reading with the relatively effortless grace that so many other Unschoolers report of their children as they gain literacy with their parents’ support in their text-filled environments.
. . . .
Without any pushing, independence will come at the right time for Jayn’s needs. Without any pushing, her only struggles will be with her own impatience—not any of mine. At the right time Jayn will launch herself into the world of independent discovery through solitary reading, and I will see less of her. I will have to wait to be invited into her private world that presently is a place that is always open to me. And I will treasure the memory of when I was as essential to her understanding as I hope to always be to her heart.

She will be a reader. But I’m in no hurry.
—Robyn Coburn



When Jayn was seven, her mom wrote that (and more, and it's beautiful: When Jayn Reads). Jayn is 24 now, and earned a university degree with honors. For the follow-up about Jayn's reading, you can listen to (or watch) this interview of Robyn, by Cecilie and Jesper Conrad: Robyn Coburn | From Doubt to Devotion - The Unschooling Transformation

SandraDodd.com/robyncoburn
photo by Jayn Coburn

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Focus on what you're doing


Jenny Cyphers wrote:

I compared homeschooling to school a lot for a long time. It seemed so big and relevant. Then, when Chamille was about 9 or 10, I stopped reading the local homeschool boards and focused more time on reading only about unschooling. That's when my focus changed greatly, from what we weren't doing, to what we were doing.
—Jenny Cyphers

moving to more positivity
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The way we live, the way we think


Lyle Perry wrote:

I know how scary it is to think about letting go of what's 'normal', and I know it seems impossible to think about your kids learning on their own, but it's all very possible. More than possible. It's waiting to happen. It's happened for us, and we were as 'normal' as anyone else.

Unschooling has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives, and not only in an educational aspect, but in everything we do. It's changed the way we live, the way we think, and the way we look at the world in general.

SandraDodd.com/lists/lyle
photo by Sandra Dodd, of artistry by Irene Adams
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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Relax into safety

The word "struggling" is used too much lately. Everyone says they're struggling about everything.

Please consider re-phrasing. If you think of the situation in your own words, you will think of it, and see it, and respond to it more clearly.

And anytime people describe things as a battle, a struggle, a fight, they're categorizing the thing as though it's fighting back, and they're in danger.

SandraDodd.com/struggle
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly posing her shadow

Monday, February 12, 2024

A good grasp of unschooling

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

How we lived was completely unrelated to school and no longer in reaction to school, once I'd gotten a good grasp of unschooling.
—Pam Sorooshian

original
or
at Always Learning
extended Sorooshians, years after that writing;
photographer unidentified

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Pathways and connections

"I learned early on that being excited with my kids about whatever they are excited about opens pathways and connections that are magical—not just for their learning but for our relationship and their relationship with the world."
—Jen Keefe

"Following their Interests": SandraDodd.com/jeninterests
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Better now


The second you have a positive attitude, even fleetingly, your life is better, right then.

SandraDodd.com, any page
photo by Sandra Dodd, a library in Bangalore
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Friday, February 9, 2024

Being merry and light

If a single, childless person wants to spend a LOT of energy being negative about school, cataloging school's ills, revealing and reviewing school damage, then that's a hobby.

If the parent of unschooled children wants to do that, I think the energy and emotion could be better and more positively spent being merry and light with children who are not in school.

No one can have everything. You can't store up and identify with cynicism, pessimism and self-righteous ire and still pour out joy and happiness to your family.


moving away from negativity about school
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Slide bars or dimmer switches

Rather than moving from one edge of a dichotomy to the other, the goal is to move to a whole new previously unknown middle place. My model won't work in everyone's head (as we're not as plug-and-play as some would like to think), but here is one way to look at this problem: See if you have a dial in your mind that says "everything" at one extreme and "nothing" at the other. It's impossible for anyone to do everything or nothing. Maybe label it "too much" and "not enough" instead, and try for the midpoint. Replace any on/off switches in your mind with slide bars or dimmers!

SandraDodd.com/balance
photo by Rosie Moon

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Tiny sparks of imagination

Lyle Perry wrote:

Unschooling is like the tiny sparks of imagination that arc through a person's mind when they really watch a bird fly for the first time, and the huge lightning bolts of clarity when they realize how that miracle can actually happen, that make unschooling work.

I think one of the most difficult things for people to grasp about unschooling is the time factor that can be involved between connecting those tiny sparks to the huge lightning bolts. It may be days, months, or years between the time a person watches something happen and the time they understand why or how it happened. But the time factor doesn't make the event any less important, and in many cases it's the time factor that makes all the difference. A person understands when they are ready to understand. No time schedule can ever change that.
—Lyle Perry

SandraDodd.com/lyle/definition
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The open flow of real-world sharing

from 2004, Sandra Dodd:

The best thing unschoolers can do is to unschool well. The best thing those who are interested in helping others come along the same path can do is explain what helped it work well.

Reading other families' personal stories, hearing about paths that didn't work well and others that did is what helped me when I was new to this, and that's what I've been involved in helping happen ever since—real unschoolers sharing their real experiences.

Some people don't want to share in public and that's fine. Some people share things in public that turn out not to be true, and that's not cool. But over the years, many hundreds of unschoolers who first found one another through AOL's message boards, or at conferences, or through e-mail correspondence have met other unschoolers in person, and each person must ultimately gauge for herself who to emulate or trust or to go to for inspiration or whatever. There is no central board certifying unschoolers or conference organizers or listowners. It's the open flow of real-world sharing.

In 2024 I'm still offering a hand.
SandraDodd.com/help
photo by Linda Wyatt

Monday, February 5, 2024

Be there, listening

bouncy house
Deb Lewis wrote:

Once you’re really listening to your kids and not your sense of injustice, you’ll find that answering them and interacting with them is intellectually rewarding and stimulating and fun. It’s not something you *have* to do. It’s something you *get* to do for a very little while. You can’t change this need your kids have right now. You can only change how you see it, how you think about it and meet it. And that’s good because that’s entirely in your power to do.
—Deb Lewis

SandraDodd.com/gettingit
photo by Sandra Dodd
in Northern Ireland, years ago

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Be more involved

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling is the opposite of both authoritarian and hands-off parenting. It's neither about creating rules to remote parent nor about letting kids jump off cliffs. It's about being more involved in kids lives. It's about accompanying them as they explore, helping them find safe, respectful and empowering ways to tackle what intrigues them.
—Joyce Fetteroll
2009

SandraDodd.com/balance
photo by Eleanor Chong


This image might be hard to interpret. It's wintry yard art. A forked branch was stuck in a container of water, and when the top layer froze, it was pulled out and hung up as a temporary decoration.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

More peaceful, more loving

If you can envision the kind of relationship and the life of learning you want to have, then every time you make a choice, choose the one that takes you nearer to that goal. Learn to make many choices a day and choose the more peaceful, more loving options whenever you can. Choose to make your life more positive, and less negative.

SandraDodd.com/video/doright.html
(video and transcript)
Related info: Better Choice
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Being, in balance

Sandra, about Always Learning (the discussion list referenced):

I think finding balance is probably the hardest thing. It's easy to make an extreme caricature of "being an unschooler" rather than finding a way to live unschooling. Someone recently assured us she was "doing it," but having someone else say "that's it, you're balanced on that bicycle" is worthless if the bicycle falls over. There's doing, and there's being, and there's "it," and the reason this list exists and thrives is that those ideas (doing, being, "it") live in the realm of philosophy, of the examination of ideas, of the weeding out of error and fallacy.

Half of me says "bummer" and half of me says "cool!" and so at the balance point of those two, we continue to discuss unschooling.

SandraDodd.com/control
photo by Linda Wyatt