Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Leaping and dancing

It's bad to make a religion of unschooling.

It's good to see all the logic and practicality in it, and to incorporate things gradually until the awkward first steps turn to confident strides and then to leaping and dancing in the dark.


Happy Logic
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, April 29, 2024

Avoiding frustration

Pam Sorooshian wrote, of soothing a frustrated child:

YOU have to figure this out—you are like a detective in a way, or a psychiatrist, trying to understand what your own child is like based on all the clues/evidence. You come to understand how she is experiencing the world, and then you try to support her in ways that work best for her.
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Quietly alert

If you can choose to be more aware over less aware, that will help.

One aspect of awareness is working on your ability to be quietly alert, like a mother hawk, aware of the location of your child, her mood and your surroundings.

A Loud Peaceful Home
photo by Karen James

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Learning how to make decisions

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Some people, such as those who are naturally drawn to rules, who live under limitations accept the rules and stick to them. They live in fear and the rules are like talismans that will keep the boogeyman away. What happens when they are faced with new situations that they don't have rules in place for? People often extrapolate from the nonsense and extend the rules. But rational thought would reveal shoddy foundations for decision making.

If the reasons behind rules make sense, then there isn't a reason to make a rule. But people who follow rules aren't learning how to make decisions. They are only learning to follow someone else's rules.

If the reasons behind rules are nonsense, then people memorize nonsense and use that as a foundation for decision making.

—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, April 26, 2024

Special ideas

Deb Lewis wrote:

When you have snow, or can get to snow, snowshoeing is wonderful because you don't need any special skills to strap on the shoes and go have fun. Rental isn't expensive and most places offer group rates if you ever get together with others for the day. We went snowshoeing on Christmas day... Wonderful!

Don't be afraid to tell rental places you're looking for the best price. Tell them you're homeschoolers, ask for a discount. You'll be surprised how well it works.
—Deb Lewis

Sandra, adding...

I LOVE ideas and advice that are regional and seasonal. Deb lives in Montana. It will be summer soon, there.

Other unschoolers might live where there are ZERO snowshoe rentals, ever. But what else might they have that Montana doesn't?

Frolic in thoughts and ideas, and maybe in snowshoes.

Deb Lewis's List of Things to do in the Winter
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Really very peaceful

Sandra, March 2008:

All my kids have TVs in their rooms. No... Holly took hers out when the VHS player broke, and it's in a corner in the front room now, unused. She has a computer. So do the other two kids, just since last year for the younger two.

Hours, whole days go by with those rooms quiet, with one of the kids in there drawing or listening to music at the most, or playing with lego while a familiar movie is on, and they'll look up at their favorite parts, maybe.

Our house is really very peaceful. A house full of "no" can't begin to be this peaceful.

Principles of Unschooling?
photo by Holly Dodd, with a timer and then photoshop
(sitting at my computer, not hers, that day)

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sometime I go EEEEEk.

What gets me more than the casual acceptance and recommendation of arbitrary limitations is the characterization of allowing children choices as "plonking a 3, 4, 5, 10 year old in front of the television/google."

Can you imagine ANYone "plonking" a ten year old in front of google? And what? Demanding he look something up? But I have seen kids that young have a BLAST with google and other search functions, about games, or YouTube, or NetFlix.

If they can look up game hints at ten, they will be able to look up building codes or disease treatments or various translations of Bible passages on their own anytime thereafter, given resources. Practicing on something that might seem "loose, easy and unnecessary" can *BE* what is needed for them to be competent, functional workers when they're older. And I won't say "when they're grown," because my kids were competent functional workers when they were mid-teens, every single one of them.

So when people who haven't had a child who is mid-teens disparages my knowledge in light of their paranoid theories, sometimes I go EEEEEk.


Plonking a child down in front of the television
is where I found it, but the original is here:
on Always Learning,
wherein the rant is all one paragraph.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a granddaughter playing a game, a husband reading the news, and the TV was playing "Pupstruction" for another grandchild not appearing in that photo

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Planning, resources and intention

Sylvia Woodman wrote:

Unschooling is not "doing nothing." It takes planning, and resources, and intention. I think it felt more like work in the earlier years while I was still doing the bulk of my Deschooling. (Don't get me wrong there are still things that "catch me by surprise" in my thinking even now! But it's not as constant.) But at some point, there was a shift. A Leveling Up. Unschooling became less of the way we were educating the children and more of the way we lived our lives. It wasn't one thing that we did. It was a million tiny choices (and not so tiny choices) that led us to where we are today.
—Sylvia Woodman


and the quote is also at SandraDodd.com/levelup/
photo by Jo Isaac

Monday, April 22, 2024

Exuberant learning

Karen James wrote:

When Ethan was around three. I left the room very briefly to answer the phone. We had been drawing. As I was talking I heard, "Circles. Circles." I came out to see what he was doing to find him drawing big circles on a freshly painted wall. His circles I could paint over at any time. I still had lots of that colour of paint. That pride at drawing big beautiful shapes I could never recapture at any cost if I had have chosen to scold him. He turned to me all smiles. He had discovered circles. I had rediscovered what exuberant learning looked like.
—Karen James

photo by Karen James
with different circle; the story of that art is also at the art/stories page

Sunday, April 21, 2024

What is needed?

There is personal growth in quietly providing what is needed.

The world is made better by those who notice and attend to needs.

photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Seeing the magic and the joy

Unschooling is living a rich life and letting learning drop into your lap and into your ears and mind while you laugh and listen to music and play games. Unschooling is seeing the magic in every day, and the joy in yourself and the people around you.

Unschooling and other Marvels, by Sandra Dodd
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, April 19, 2024

Prevent preventions

Suspicion and cynicism prevent wonder.

Unschooling requires wonder.

photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Spiritual growth

Where the spirituality comes in that, I think partly is the trust that your child is an organism that wants to learn—that that’s how people grow. There is physical growth that takes water food and rest, there’s mental growth which takes input—ideas, things to think about, things to try, things to touch. And then there’s spiritual growth, which takes more and more understanding—an awareness that it’s better to be sweet to other people than not, it’s better to be generous with your neighbours than hateful, better to pet your cat nicely than to throw it around.

At first it’s a practical consideration but later on, as the children are looking at the world through older eyes, they start to see that no matter whether the neighbour noticed or not, it made you a better person. No matter whether your cat would have done your stuff damage or not, it made you a better person. So I think there’s a spirituality there of respect given to the children being passed on.

Improving Unschooling
photo by Brie Jontry

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Enjoy the cool things

Nancy Wooton wrote:

Present whatever you think is cool, but *always* allow your children the freedom to say, "No thank you." Then, keep on enjoying the cool thing *for yourself.* Unschooling is for moms and dads as much as for kids!

And always remember the wisdom of Hobbes (the tiger, that is):

"If nobody makes you do it, it counts as fun."

—Nancy Wooton

photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Looks like playing

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Real learning looks very different from schoolish learning. Real learning looks like playing. Even when it matches something kids do in school (learning the names of the different clouds for instance) it still looks more like goofing around because it stops as soon as their interest is satisfied. They don't push on like they're "supposed" to. No, what they do is revisit it when the feel the need to build on it and they draw on it (though not necessarily making it obvious to us) to help them understand more of the world. *Everything* connects to everything else.
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, April 15, 2024

Thought, power and freedom!

"Self control" is all tied up with being bad, and with failure. Choices, though, are wrapped in thought, power and freedom!

photo by teenaged Holly Dodd,
of some of her shrinky-dink art


Sunday, April 14, 2024

The urge to control

If the "control force" is great with you, maybe use it to control your own clutter or organize your papers or rearrange your books or clothing. File your photos and negatives. Scan some stuff. Don't turn that awful control beam on people you love.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Less control, more learning

Some people homeschool because they think schools teach too much and aren't controlling the kids well enough. Some people homeschool because they think schools teach too little and control too much. I don't mind my kids learning things schools fear to teach, or having choices in their lives. Practicing on small things gave them knowledge and experience when they were old enough to practice on larger things. Some families homeschool to limit their children's access and freedom. For us, it's the opposite.

from the MomLogic interview
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Friday, April 12, 2024

Intelligent choices

Unschooling parents who have spent years giving their children freedom and options have learned that limitations create need while freedom creates intelligent choices.


photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Happy and interested

Deb Lewis wrote:

If your daughter doesn't want to leave something interesting to go to the table to eat, take food to her. Sit with her and eat together.

That's the same kind of sharing you could do at a table. Food eaten in front of the TV or computer with a happy mom who is interested in you is much better than food shared in grudging silence and anger.

Wouldn't you be grateful to a friend who brought you food if you were in the middle of something important? I'm always grateful when my husband brings home a pizza or Chinese food when I'm having a really busy day.
—Deb Lewis

photo by a realtor, of Janine's former garden
(they've moved)

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The smallest things

"Everything you do now, when your kids are young, matters. All the little kindnesses matter, every little moment of sweetness between you, every time you choose to be thoughtful of the smallest things."
—Deb Lewis

photo by Jo Isaac

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Foggy confusion

I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of "self-regulation." Regulation has to do with rules—creating and enforcing rules. I like the idea that children will find a balance. And it has helped me in moving from kneejerk what-would-my-mom-do (when my kids were babies I worked consciously to make decisions a better way) to try to avoid using phrases of children that I wouldn't use of adults. I don't say my husband self-regulates his leisure time, or that my friend self-regulates her diet or that my sister self-regulates her housekeeping.

People will come [to a discussion] and say "I've given him freedom, when will he self-regulate?" and I think (though I've never asked) they mean "When will he somehow do what I would have made him do if I were making him do things?" Some newer unschoolers are similarly waiting for their kids to ask to learn biology, or to wake up one morning eager to write a book report.

photo by Karen James

Monday, April 8, 2024

TV [iPad (internet)]

There's a lot to be learned on TV and from watching TV. If your trust stops short of the TV, it's not much trust yet.

Trusting your heart and trusting your kids and trusting how learning works will all enlarge the range of things you see as learning situations, until the time when you don't see things except in terms of what can be learned.

Then TV won't be a problem.

Those are my thoughts.
—Sandra Dodd, 2001

Unschooling with the TV in the house
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Chaotic, random, effortless

"School is to unschooling as foreign language class is to learning to talk. The first is orderly, thorough, hard and hardly works. The second is chaotic, random, effortless and works like a charm."
—Joyce Fetteroll
July 2018

photo by Rosie Moon

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Whole life and whole person

"I’m so incredibly grateful my kids *live* in the world where *everything* is connected. It’s wildly and joyfully healing, and more importantly, it’s raising thoughtful, compassionate, and, really smart kids—not book smart. Whole life and whole person smart."
—Jen Keefe

photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, April 5, 2024

Breathing and safety

Deep breaths change everything, for a few moments.

From Tiny Monsters, which deals with my firstborn being four, and one of my own early memories:
I have something of a monster antidote: breathing. Breathe deeply and calmly. Get oxygen into that part of you that fears the tiny monsters. Once you master calming your hurts and fears (or at least calming the adrenaline that would make you lash out), you'll have time to think about how to deal with them rationally and sweetly and compassionately.

photo by Sandra Dodd

There were two sweet comments in 2010 when this was first published.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Am I doing enough?

Karen James wrote:

I asked the same question a few years back. I got an excellent, but unexpected reply. I was told if I thought I wasn't doing enough, then to do more. Now, if our unschooling days start to feel a bit stale to me, I try to make them lively again by using what I know about my son to introduce something(s) fresh to our experience. Doing this has never lead me astray. It might take me in a completely different direction from what I had in mind, but, to me, that's a big part of the fun of this life.
—Karen James

photo of Holly Dodd, by someone with her camera, in 2008

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Joy. That's it.

IF you can manage to move from cynicism and critical darkness into wonder and abundance—if you can make choices that help you live lightly—your life, your partner's life, your dog's life, your neighbors' lives AND OF COURSE your children's lives will be better. If you can find joy in being a parent, then you can enjoy doing it and it will bring you joy.

People who resist or reject joy will be rejecting the best tool they could have used to unschool well, to have longterm relationships with others, and to age gracefully.

That's it.

photo by Cass Kotrba

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Describing unschooling

Rippy wrote:

If parents of school children ask, I usually say our homeschooling is pretty eclectic. I may give certain examples such as visiting interesting places, doing experiments, playing 'learning' games, reading stories, having conversations of events that happened in the past, talking about famous people, making things, hanging out with friends, etc. Sometimes I share with them a detailed description of an interesting day that we've had, especially if it has impressive signs of learning that they will recognize.
—Rippy Dusseldorp

photo by Kelvin Dodd

Monday, April 1, 2024

Penguins and Saturn

Deb Lewis wrote:

I love the internet! For a family like ours, who couldn’t afford to travel much, the internet is wondrous. It lets us see, hear, and learn about anything we want. We can watch a volcano erupting in Costa Rica, penguins doing penguin things in Antarctica, and see Earth from Saturn’s orbit all without leaving town, or navigating the asteroid belt. I’m a fan!
—Deb Lewis

from "Montana to Italy via Godzilla"
photo by Theresa Larson
of a sunrise in southern New Mexico