Friday, August 18, 2017

Sit still

On bonding with babies:

"Sit still with them. And when they are still, sit still with yourself. Don't use so many moments of the day to do anything."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo of Sandra and Holly Dodd

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Go for healthy.

There is a difference between lack-of-mental-illness and mental health. What I mean is that one is not right on the edge of the other. There is a large land between being incapacitated and being really healthy and energetic and usful to other people. Don't settle for barely-back. Go for healthy.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A tiny change of course

A different approach to life yields a very different set of results.

You don't have to turn 180 degrees from the way you would have lived before you decided to parent differently. At first it might seem pretty close. But as you move further from the starting point, you will see what a difference a tiny change of course made.
image by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Better moments

 photo IMG_0582.jpgIt helps a lot to try for better moments not days. Don't judge a day by one upset, judge it as a bad moment and move forward. A little bit better each moment. A little bit more aware.
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Monday, August 14, 2017

Talking less

 photo SchuylerWatermill.jpg"It was nice to be more quiet—to let things go unsaid. Not talking automatically and at length gave me more time to think about what I really wanted to say, if anything at all. I found I had fewer regrets—wishing I'd said something different or not at all. By talking less, I became a better listener too, I think."
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Comfort and strength

8/13/17 Comfort and strength photo foodSabrinaPeng.jpgI have comforted my "inner child" by comforting my own children. I have felt like a stronger, better person by being a stronger, better mom. Then it's not imagination, it's reality.

Helping them grow up whole helped me feel more full and whole myself.
Changing the present, healing the past, hope for the future
(from a comment I made there)
photo by Sabrina Peng

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The expectation of learning

It seems lately that more and more people want to know exactly HOW to unschool, but the answer is not what they expect. Looking back at these stories, in light of others like them, the best recommendation I can make is to open up to the expectation of learning. It helps if the parent is willing for a conversation to last only fifteen seconds, or to go on for an hour. Remember that if your “unit study” is the universe, everything will tie in to everything else, so you don’t need to categorize or be methodical to increase your understanding of the world. Each bit is added wherever it sticks, and the more you’ve seen and wondered and discussed, the more places you have inside for new ideas to stick. A joyful attitude is your best tool. We’ve found that living busy lives with the expectation that everything is educational has made each morning, afternoon and evening prime learning time.
The "lately" in that quote was in 2002.
The photo is Holly's hand, in August 2017.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 11, 2017

Abundant beauty

Listen, feel, look. Something will be beautiful, even just for a moment, if you are present and open.

How much beauty would make a beautiful moment?

What could be set aside so that beauty could fill its place?

Turn your face toward beauty.
Turn your heart toward beauty.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Just add peace and stir

"Reading 'Just Add Light & Stir', then the link-following that follows has saved me from negative-mind-spiraling quite often recently."
She wrote that after having quoted this:

"The more local and personal peace there is, the more peace there will be in the world."
—Sandra Dodd
Knowing Peace
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sunny and dry

Look for usefulness.

Look for beauty.

Hang out, you and your laundry.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Choose to live lightly

 photo AdamTreeJulie.jpg I think to move toward humor, live lightly and not so ponderously.

Problems can be seen as temporary setbacks instead of life-ruining horrors, if you remember to choose to live lightly.
photo by Julie D

Monday, August 7, 2017

Change in ourselves

 photo MeganValnesEurope7.jpg"Unschooling is *much* harder than school at home because it takes a great deal of self examination and change in ourselves to help our kids and not get in their way!"
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Megan Valnes

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Two things, two words

I wrote "two things, two words" as a title but most things have more than one name, most words mean more than one thing, and "two" is too small a number for this.

I've brought a photo by Lisa Jonick to help you consider this. If you try to say in one word, or two, what the photo shows, you will leave out three or four important parts.

What is the glass? Mirror. Window. Barrier.
What is the cloth? Backdrop. Projection screen. Drapery.

Is the tree touching the cat? Not really, but it envelopes him and his eyes turn to tree. Behind the cat is the reflection of mountains. It seems to be a continuation of his back. And as this is not "a photo of the mountains," the mountain seems to be inside the house, with the cat.

Lisa saw this, photographed it, saved it, shared it.

There will be many things in your life that you see, or fail to see. Seeing, thinking, naming, all have to do with thought, and categorization, and learning. Take a moment to see what you see richly, and deeply.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Don't taint the ice cream.

It creates a trap, a trick question, an adversarial relationship, an opportunity for failure, if there is "a right answer" to the question "What do you want to eat?" Or if an overjoyed "can I have some ice cream?" is met with a sigh, and eyes rolling, and another sigh, and a dirty look, and a summary of what the child has already eaten that day, and a reminder of when the next meal is, and a head shake, and a mention of ingredients... or even ONE of those, it taints the ice cream. It harms the relationship. It makes the child smaller. It does not, correspondingly, though, make the parent larger.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thinking and wondering

"Sometimes people just want to wonder, rather than *know*. Or maybe they will want to know in the future, but right now they're just thinking on it and wondering."
—Tam Palmer
Laughing and wondering might help, too.
photo by Colleen Prieto
"Barn Swallow fledglings - Rye, NH"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Look for this!

"Don't look for 'behaviors.' Look for learning and thinking and pondering and excitement and happiness!"
—Robin Bentley
 photo TVSarahClark.jpg
photo by Sarah Clark

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Closer and better

 photo MeganValnesEurope14.jpg"The ONLY way I've learned how to be a more present, more caring, generous partner with my kids was by being with them, trying on choices closer and closer to radical unschooling, learning from those choices, then choosing again, better, each time (most times)."
—Caren Knox
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Explore. Connect.

 photo IMG_4865.jpgOn a scale from dull and dusty to bright and shiny, where is your life? How much of the happy outside world is flowing in? How much are you and your children interacting with the bright, shiny parts of the world outside?

Unschooling should and can be bigger and better than school.

If it's smaller and quieter than school, more should be done to make life sparkly.

Let one thing lead to another for you. Explore. Not the parent pressing the kid to explore, but the parent exploring and connecting.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 31, 2017

Exotic things

I can see mountains from my house.

Something where you are would be breathtaking to someone from a different part of the world.
Normal or exotic?
photo by Chrissy Florence, in Fiji

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Real things

Life. People can live lives, even little kids live lives, without preparation, learning on the job, as they go. They can learn while doing real things with real happiness and real success.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Happy wherever

 photo JaninePathway.jpgWhen you get better at being happy wherever you are, you can worry less about where you go.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, July 28, 2017

Quiet time for parents

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.  photo Flowers.jpgStop pressuring the child. Stop “communicating” the confusion. 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:

Children need time to heal. Quiet time is probably better than constant noise, no matter how much the noise is intended to express love and reassurance.
photo by Hinano

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sleepy feels good

 photo SarahDickinsonSleepy.jpgWhen there are options, feeling sleepy and choosing to go to bed can be warm, wonderful feelings. How sweet, to have a clean bed waiting, and to want to get into it.

On one small bit of gratitude, one can step up and see another one, and another.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


"Be thankful. Notice little things throughout the day that are simply good. The health of your children. The pattern on the soap bubbles in your kitchen sink. How perfect a favourite mug feels in your hand or looks on a shelf. A laugh. An easy moment. The breeze. The sunshine. A connection with a loved one. A touch in passing. A deep breath. A full moon. A cat purr. A hole-free sock. ;-)"
—Karen James
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Changing the world

"It's human nature to justify and explain why loving parents did what they did to us. It's also human nature to try to do better for our children than our parents did for us. So those two things together create a tension (like cables on a bridge, holding it in place) that keeps the world from changing so quickly that it's unrecognizeable, but keeps it improving."
—Sandra Dodd

The quote was saved and shared by Susan May on facebook,
from a comment I wrote on a blogpost: "I turned out fine"
photo by Shonna Morgan

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ate, played, ate, played...

I think it should be “Woke up, got dressed, ate, played, ate, played, etc.”...

If this seems wrong, try this experiment: Keep your child from learning anything for a few days. Make sure that from the first waking moment there is nothing learned, no new material, no original thoughts to ponder, etc. The only problem is that you would have to keep the children from playing, talking, reading, cleaning or repairing anything, etc.
from something I wrote in 1992, newly here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Joyous and hopeful

"I don't remember when I first read Sandra's writings but I do remember what I felt when I first read them. Hopeful, inspired, hungry....

"She has this big idea that the lives of children can be joyous and hopeful and that's a remarkable thing."
Request for Assistance 2017
photo by Janine Davies, this week
words by Deb Lewis, long ago

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Helping someone get going

If you're trying to help push someone's car and it's not going anywhere, sometimes pushing harder helps. Occasionally, though, you just have to  photo DSC09504.jpgsay, "Is it in neutral or not?" If they say, "No, it's in first gear, push harder," what are you going to say? You stop pushing and say "You have to put it in neutral first."

So before anyone can enjoy the benefits of unschooling they have to "put it in neutral." They have to take off the emergency brake. Otherwise the car won't move. Too many people say "We tried pushing the car, it didn't move, we bought a new one. Pushing cars never works."

An analogy from 1997, with notes on the "have to" parts here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flow far and near

 photo GailHigginsWaterfall.jpgLet your thoughts wander far and near. Let connections flow.
Nicest History and Review Ever
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All the sugar

If a child has "all the sugar he wants" when he's little, I'm pretty certain that his total will be smaller over the course of his life than someone who is deprived and measured and shamed.

 photo chase_at_the_beach.jpg
The quote is from
but this might be a better next read: Natural Balance
photo by Celeste Burke

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Relationships are better

 photo MeganValnesEurope3.jpg "I wish I had known about unschooling from the start, and never done anything else.

"The net effect is (with unschooling), we're all happier. We're less stressed. We have our own schedule - or lack of schedule - not one imposed on us by school, or even homeschooling. The kids' relationship with their dad is better. MY relationship with their dad is better."
A now-anonymous part of the collection "If Only I'd Started Sooner..."
photo by Megan Valnes

Too far, too fast

 photo IMG_4871.jpgGradual is better, but when people jump, the reaction of the children to that is really a reaction to all of the controls from the past. And though it's difficult for the parents, it's a crop they planted.

Gradual is better. Pass on to anyone who listens to any of you about unschooling to change gradually and not to jump far.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, July 17, 2017

Learning and peace

If you know what you believe and what your goals are, then everyday life clears up and you see the benefits and the learning.

If convenience and organization are your primary goals,
          unschooling might not be viable for you.

If learning and peace in your family are primary goals,
          convenience will come secondary to it.

[Y]ou have to know what’s more important.

For me it was my child’s peace and comfort and learning, and everything has flowed from that.

Thanks to Nicole Novakovics for finding the quote.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A surprising thing

One of the many stories at "True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets":

Marty had been running around outside in the sun for a few hours, and I offered to take him to Ben & Jerry's. He said he wanted to go home and have real food, not ice cream, but thanks.

If you go where this was first posted in 2010,
there's another story below it: Real food
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 15, 2017

You can't see it all

 photo GailHigginsNature.jpgNo matter how far you look, you can't see it all.

No matter how hard you squint, you won't understand everything.

Rejoice in what you see and know.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, July 14, 2017

All the time

My response to this question, from 2009:
What resources do you use for your children’s “educations”? Feel free to comment on the word “education”.
We don’t “educate” our children. We help arrange so that they have so many learning opportunities they can’t possibly take advantage of them all. We have friends with interesting jobs and hobbies. We invite them over, and we visit them. We have a house full of books, music, games, toys, movies, art materials, plants, food and dress-up clothes. We don’t expect learning to happen in the house, nor in museums, but we know it happens everywhere. We don’t expect learning to happen during daylight hours or on weekdays. We know it happens all the time. So we don’t “use resources” except that we see every thing we discuss or see, smell, touch, hear or taste to be a resource. It’s not a word we use, because it’s all of life.
photo by Cá Maciel

Thursday, July 13, 2017

All the way

"Unschooling is at its core an understanding that learning is a part of being human. It is a recognition that school undermines that by saying that learning needs to be organised, structured and handed down. School argues that certain things are so hard to learn that they must be taught. If you unschool partway you are mixing up your messages. If you unschool math and science and reading but structure nutrition and media studies you are arguing that while a rich and engaging life may make the three "r"s obvious they won't help you to deal with the difficult studies of food and televisions and video games and computers."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Davis Harte

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Let go some more

"I have the attitude of hoping what they're doing is bringing them joy, whether that's watching TV, gaming, building a Lego city, or playing outdoors.

. . . .

"I let go, then let go some more, and in the process discovered a deeper connection with my kids than I knew was possible... and because of the inner work involved, a deeper connection with myself."
—Caren Knox
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shifting gears

 photo DSC09408.jpgDeschooling is like changing gears.

Go slowly. Go deliberately.

Don't goof around. Don't stall.

How can both be true?
The clutch and the gas.

coloring by Holly Dodd, years ago
light switch plate by Sandra, years ago

Monday, July 10, 2017

More and more joy

 photo TVSarahClark2.jpgSudden change confuses kids, they don't trust it, they assume it's temporary, and so their behavior reflects that. And it robs parents of the joy of gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more. You could have said "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, and the gradual change would have been a joy.
That was in a discussion and I used "joy" twice in too short a space,
so it's not my best writing, but joy IS what unschooling needs.
photo by Sarah Clark

Sunday, July 9, 2017

To see learning

 photo IMG_6966.jpegWhat we call "deschooling" is about more than school. It's de-tox and recovery from all the ideas that could come between parent and child, or between parent and peace, or that would keep the parent from being able to see learning in all of the fabric of life.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Just enough

It's good to be grateful for all the things we have.

Sometimes it can help to be grateful to have less, fewer, not as much, as might cause us difficulty. Be grateful for having just enough.
 photo IMG_7816.jpeg
photo by Chrissy Florence

(a rerun)

Friday, July 7, 2017

The clock is not hungry

 photo IMG_5046.jpgLittle children know nothing of the clock or "tomorrow" or "later."

It will help for parents to learn to live in the moment rather than by the clock, too. The clock is not sleepy. The clock is not hungry. Look at what your real, immediate child needs in the moment, and find ways to adjust your thinking so that it is not always too much for you. SOMEtimes maybe you can't. But if you never can feel the obligation or justification to take a breath and do what he wants instead of what you want, then school might be better for them than any sort of homeschooling—especially than unschooling, which is all about living in the immediate now.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, July 6, 2017

See, touch, hear

Let [babies] hear you speak, and find opportunities for them to hear others speak. Although there are justifications and theories about what babies like and respond to (high voices and sing-songy voices seem to appeal to babies), don't revert to a whole babytalk language with them. Some is fine, but talk to them about real things, too. Tell them what you're doing with them, and what they're seeing, when they're out and about. Don't quiz them, just talk. It's fine if they can't understand you for months and months. They'll be learning your tone and your moods and the speech patterns of the language even before they have vocabulary. You will be building a relationship that is not based on the meaning of the words, but on the sharing of the time and attention. You're paying attention to what the baby sees and touches and hears. The baby is paying attention to you.

If you can keep that up for eighteen years, you've got unschooling!
(little stories and nice comments about this)
photo by Sandra Dodd, up into a little tree I sat under, in a gully;
a banana blossom, in Maui!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An examined life

"I think to do unschooling well, it is a fundamental element to have an examined life. To be mindful of our choices and understand our thought processes."
—Rippy Dusseldorp
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Opportunities and possibilities

 photo MeganValnesEurope10.jpgWe do not "school," but, instead, we concentrate on living a life filled with opportunities and possibilities and experiences. Human children are born learners. Literally. What unschoolers aim for is keeping that love of learning and intense curiosity alive as the children grow up.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Megan Valnes

Monday, July 3, 2017

Public pigeon

All around are stories and moments, props and scenes, entrances and exits. 7/3/17 Public pigeon photo JoIsaacTubePigeon.jpg
Take photos!

Jo took that photo on a continent other than where she lives, neither of which is where I live. Some few readers might be on yet a fourth continent, but will see this pigeon anyway.

I don't think the pigeon and the tube are a good mix, and he will not ride that subway.
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Live lightly

Sometime light comes from just lightening up.

Live lightly.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a young Holly, in a fleeting moment

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Here we are

 photo JanineDaviesMaypole.jpgIt's July! May is history. Those who are long grown probably never thought of a year like 2016 as "history," but now it surely is.

When children live and learn in the world, they will come to see themselves as part of that history more easily than if they were in school where history is in a certain book, in a particular room, at a scheduled hour.

We're moving through time like... we're moving through time as humans do. Looking back, looking forward, sometimes forgetting to notice and remember the here right now.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, June 30, 2017

In the world

I will know more later, but from my vantage point as someone with two "of age" boys and a girl about to turn eighteen, it seems that the adult products of unschooling turn out to be adult humans who were relatively unhampered as they learned and grew.  photo AlexPolikowskyFlower.jpg

Many things we have been told and assumed were natural human behavior seem now to be natural side effects of schooling.

School promises a child that if he's good, someday he can take his place in the world. They're still making him that promise when he's a young adult: "Someday…"

Unschooled children are in the world from an early age. When they reach adulthood they have a carriage and calm that I believe came from having being respected as people for many years. It's hard to describe, but impossible to ignore.
(the quote above is from page 264 of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...