Not about unschooling; someone I've known for 30 years wrote in 2014:
You still inspire me to strive to be more than I am when I stop paying attention. You are, and remain, one of my favorite thinkers.

Feedback on Sandra Dodd's Unschooling Writings
also candid commentary found elsewhere, and criticism


Sandra@SandraDodd.com

Some of this is about SandraDodd.com Some is about discussion lists. There is feedback specifically about the UnschoolingDiscussion group here, most of which was posted in public. Some of that was to and about me alone, but not all of it. —Sandra Dodd

The quotes below are mostly excerpted from e-mail, or paper mail (thank you notes) and a few were more public.

At the [HSC] conference, we got to hear Sandra Dodd speak. Sandra is the author of Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling.

I’d heard about unschooling prior to the conference but I was skeptical. Deep down I thought unschooling was just a bunch of lazy parents who did not want to take the time and energy to properly homeschool their children. I thought these parents were just not strict enough to enforce bed times and schedules. I was pretty certain that unschooled kids would end up not properly educated.

Sandra Dodd changed my mind. My husband’s too. We were absolutely blown away by her lecture, and we left the conference, a copy of her book in hand (which is amazing), 150% committed to unschooling. (the longer original)


Just a brief thank you. You may remember my uneducated comment in a yahoo group early last year about limiting screen time. I hadn't read the guidelines.

I then sent a long email to you, which you kindly responded to and explained why you don't offer one to one support.

I would just like to let you know I have since adjusted fully to radical unschooling. Facebook groups have helped me more than I can say. My son's mental health has improved more than I could have imagined. I no longer hate my life. We are happy. Unschooling saved us.


This is a quick note of appreciation. I really don't know how you manage to keep such a massive group so clear with the horrible misinformation out there about Unschooling. I'm working on being calm (and having success) but it still pisses me off.

Mislabeling Unschooling is a disservice. If I'd followed just about anybody else, my family would not be where we are. Thank you. Thank you for keeping it clear, for holding us accountable to our words and beliefs, and for somehow having the stamina to do that year after year after year after year- through so much bull shit.


Your words and experiences, and commitment to helping people, often repeating the same things Over and Over...have helped and do help me Every day. They help me be calmer, closer, more thoughtful and more connected with my children.

They help my children be comfortable in their own skin, being busy, happy and creative every day, doing what they Love in their own time.

They feel happy and sure of themselves. I can see it, and it's the greatest gift possible to me, and of course to them.


I just saw Sandra Dodd speak at the HSC-HomeSchool Association of California conference. So inspiring! Every time I hear Sandra talk, I walk away feeling renewed and empowered and excited. If you homeschool or you are thinking about homeschooling, get her books, go to her website, and if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, don't miss the opportunity. (2016)
Her enthusiasm, energy, strength, humour, intellect, experience and warmth filled the room, and then some!

And I really could keep going, adding more and more words to describe Sandra, and her wonderfully engaging and enlightening words and stories. All from and about her experiences, thoughts and ideas, of living and learning this incredible way with her own 3 children, (now adults).

A very special lady indeed, and it was a privilege to have her speak for us more experienced Unschoolers, and touch on things most of us had never heard or seen written by her before, and that has truly deepened our knowledge and confidence, and was inspiring beyond measure.

She also spoke for a mammoth amount of time! She deserved an Olympic gold for sure! **


I started reading [Always Learning] ten years ago when I was pregnant with my second, my son. I can't believe ten years has gone by. He's nine, my daughter is twelve, but when I started here they were both babies. They have never been in school. It's impossible to overstate what a tremendous impact this list has had on my family and on our lives. There are so many struggles I hear other homeschooling families talking about that we have completely avoided, and with barely any awareness of doing so, just by applying the principles here; the food control struggles, the sleep/bedtime struggles, the video game/"screen time" issues, the "trying to get them to do their work/chores/workbook" issues. Man, all I can think when I hear moms ranting about these things is what a waste of time. There is more, and it's good.


first a quote, on this one, then the note:
“Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. "Leadership qualities" are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.”
― John Holt, Teach Your Own

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being the kind of leader Holt is talking about here. The kind that has not only helped make me a leader, but made me a better mother to my children and wife to my husband. Your words and your compilation of all the "good stuff" written by you and so many others over all the years has made a (joyous, incredible) difference my family's life, and hopefully my children's families' lives.


Radical Unschooling has SO MUCH been about me discovering issues I didn't even know I had, and life at home is blooming. I can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge!
I hope you know how much good your perseverance, sharing and collecting has done in the world. It's not just the unschoolers that benefit, but people that know those families and see these beautiful family relationships happening. I think anyone that comes into contact with families you've influenced may benefit from knowing that it is possible to have peaceful partnerships with children and may be inspired to do better with their own families.
So here's a huge thank you. Thank you for using your love of language to continue to express the nuances of what makes unschooling right. Thank you for speaking the truth, even if it's hard for some people to hear.
I just cannot help but tell you how much your work has meant to me and my family, how much your site and the AlwaysLearning list has helped us deepen our understanding of unschooling.
Thank you - you help me to choose a better life for myself and my family every day.
I am reading the Always Learning List a ton, but there is something very special about the Just Add Light daily messages. My family is grateful.
I love what you are doing with Always Learning, I really appreciate your passion and commitment.
I love coming onto this page as it has helped me tremendously from letting go of 'school at home' I would be classed as a newbie, even though i have unschooled my eldest for 5 years. My problem was letting go of 'schooling' my 6 year old. Sandra very kindly gave me some one to one help and a gentle kick in the right direction and even posted for me anonymously so that i could get a wider range of experiences and advice. Sandra pulled apart what I was typing :-) like she does to everyone, but by her doing this it made me go away, think about what she said and think 'ah yes I get you' and for the last month i can say I have been living exactly how I had hoped. Thank you Sandra Dodd. If you don't like what she has to say on here, then stop reading it. —Sarina Gray, on the facebook group "Radical Unschooling Info"
I just joined the [Always Learning] list (three days ago) and I doubt that I will have the courage to post anytime soon. But your advice on "read a little, try a little, wait a while and watch" is so fitting that I thought I would just send you an email and express my gratitude. All the people that are willing to post and help are just so wonderful and thought provoking. I know I will be reading the posts like crazy for a while... :)
I find you insightful, thoughtful and a strong mentor to all of us that come behind you.
I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for all the time and effort you put into your website and the Always Learning list. I have been on the list since last Autumn, and my thinking about learning and parenting and life has exploded since then! I really appreciate the generosity of you, your family and the other key contributors in helping those of us who are new to all this to really understand how to do things differently and better. Philosophically, we totally get it, but putting it into practice and actually living that philosophy every day is hard, so it's great to have these resources to refer to and to read about different ways to see situations.

Your book Moving a Puddle is just lovely. I'm only a few essays in, and I can't wait to read the rest. I'm so grateful you are who you are and are so great at writing about it all.


I just ordered your Big Book, and I am so excited to receive it. Moving a Puddle is on my bedstand, and the Thinking Sticks are usually on the kitchen table (or somewhere close by—sometimes even the floor, as the kitten has her own version of how it's played).

I know you must hear/read it constantly, but I cannot let another minute go by without thanking you so sincerely for the difference you've made in our lives. We're nowhere near perfect, but we are so much better, healing, BECAUSE OF YOU. Sorry to be corny, but you are my rock star!


You've got the best selection of real life research pertaining to unschooling at your sites, Sandra. I am truly grateful every day for being allowed unfettered access and having been challenged to re-think so many things I thought I knew about relationships and families. Thank you for still devoting so much of your time and energy to safeguard that wealth of experience for the rest of us, and those who may follow long after our children have grown.
I just wanted to let you know that reading the things you've written about unschooling genuinely gives me goosebumps. My family have been unschoolers for three school-aged years, and still, every time I read something you've written, I learn something new, or am reminded of something I'd forgotten, or I am reaffirmed as to why we do what we do. You inspire me to continue growing and learning. Thank you.
Everytime I thought of posting for advice, I would sort of realize I already have most of the tools, I just need to remember the core or essence of what I know and DO it....be patient, kind, calm. I used to be way less patient and calm. Thank you again for everything you've done and continue to do. It matters.
I get so much out of your talks. Your solid, clear, calm confidence and practical advice is always so good. (following the 2016 HSC conference)
Thanks for all the good, and smart, funny, and life-changing contributions to a world in need.
Because of you and your kindness and generosity and courage, my life, my family's life is so different. Peace, love, joy, learning, hugs, smiles, connection, that's what we have, thanks to you.
Our life changed so much since we met your work 5 years ago, we are a lot more relaxed and calm as a family, our goals are clearer and I see that even though we still have difficulties as a couple, we live a much happier life than we would without knowing the unschooling principles. So, thank you again for bringing it to us.
Thank you for being the shoulders the rest of us got to stand on to see better and farther to help our kids be the best they could be!
Sandra, I'm still learning growing and deschooling, but something has clicked, or melted away, actually, in the past year and I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for saving my relationship with my children. I feel happiness and lightness where there was once dread. Thank you so much.
Your work has changed my life in countless ways and, most importantly, it is improving the childhood my daughters will have to build their lives upon.
My family is happier together than I ever dared to dream – and so much of that has to do with the trailblazing you’ve done and the words you’ve written. Thanks again for having such an impact on my family.
Thank you for the sweetness over here, Sandra. With a 14 year old already half a head taller than me, who will still hug me publicly and has no idea why some boys wouldn't, I'm profoundly grateful there are people like you willing to share wisdom with uncompromising integrity. In more ways than I can number, our lives today are better, and, as Miah and Lise get closer to adulthood, I see more and more the value of learning what was a hugely different way of being with them. We all like and enjoy being together, we can be honest with each other, and there is a peace here that was absent in my own childhood.
Thank you Sandra for everything you do for families. I am constantly astounded at the benefits unschooling has brought to our family.
It strikes me from time to time how much I owe you thanks. Newcomers on the facebook page think they are being treated unjustly but after being around for awhile it stikes me how patient and forgiving you actually are. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us!
Your discussion—and book, and website—provide a point of view that is always positive and supportive of the children, which helps me to see how many negative attitudes and thoughts I've been mindlessly carrying.


I've been listening to a lot of old episodes of The Unschooling Life podcast and have been feeling incredibly grateful for all your wisdom and incredible work that goes into giving us all that "leg-up over the wall." You and Amy and others are such inspirations and fill my heart with hope, warmth and optimism, and are really helping me get my head round a deeper understanding of what unschooling is and isn't. Along with so much great info and insight it's giving me a constant reminder to fill our life with joy!! The more we do, the more it comes and my kids are responding so positively to it. Thank you, thank you! - for all that you've done and continue to do.


Your work is so helpful and inspiring—and has helped us build such a happy family life! Thanks so much for all you do!


Your work changed my and my family's life for the better. Thank you, thank you, you have my eternal gratitude!
Thank you for helping make this world a better place and specifically for making it possible for our large family to live with more JOY and PEACE.
I cannot express how thankful I am for the work you've done and continue doing every day. Because of you, our family is happier. You are in our lives every day!!
You are awesome. Thank you for all you do. You have had a profound effect on the way my husband and I parent our two little boys (2 and 5). You've given us so much freedom and confidence as parents and helped us shut out the outside voices and follow our hearts.
I and my family have benefitted so much from your words, ideas and resources.
I love reading on Always Learning and your Facebook group. I've been reading for about 5 years now I think. I haven't posted, but i gain hugely by reading the replies from the amazing writers there. And so does my family. It's life changing stuff! I'm so grateful for all the ideas to keep me heading in the direction of being a better parent, and a better person :)
Thank you for all you do, Sandra! Your site, the book, the Always Learning group and Facebook group discussions are so valuable. I don't know how anybody could do it without this support and wealth of information. A year and a half in, I'm a much better (more relaxed, more informed, more confident) mom—and unschooling hasn't even started yet. ;)
Ciao Sandra, I write on behalf of my family to say thank you. I found your writings online more than a dozen years ago and they completely changed our lives. My husband, children and I live happy, whole, free lives thanks in no small part to you. We are forever grateful. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Thank you Sandra. You have become a part of my family's life. Your ideas inspire us and are becoming a part of who we are. I am so grateful for all you have done, written, shared, and still do.
I am a kinder, gentler, sweeter person (and a much better momma) thanks to your generous sharing. I don't think my marriage would still be together if it weren't for you and while it's still rocky, I think it's improving. With all of my heart, thank you.
You gave me such hope and inspiration when we talked in London a few years ago..., I bought your book and signed up for your emails; you changed our lives. Your website is my first port of call if I'm struggling...
Thank you for all the inspiration you have given me over the years. My life and my son's life and my marriage are all better because of you!
I have enjoyed your writing since the FIRST week I tentatively googled 'Homeschooling'—you have saved me years of frustration and many dollars because I went straight into Unschooling (instead of 'School at Home').


Your clear-headed expertise and amazing gift of daily effort has transformed our family over the past 6 years. Transformed it. We now live a life that is full of fun, kindness, curiosity, learning and respect, instead of the reactionary and tense mess that was our family life pre-Always Learning. And if I ever have grandchildren, your legacy will continue. And with their children...and their children...you have altered for the better an uncountable number of lives, beginning with our wee family of four, all the way down here in New Zealand. Truly awesome. Thank you Sandra, so very very much.

I am getting the shivers writing that out—I am imagining a version of our family in a parallel universe that didn't find unschooling in general and your writing in particular, and it isn't a pretty picture. —Jane McLauchlan


A lot of that joy has come because of reading your books and website. ... Our lives—mine, my husband's, and my four kids'—have been immeasurably brightened because of that joy.

Thank you so much for sharing your path! Praying that you will always shine your wonderful light for others to follow. In a nutshell, you ROCK!! :)))


My husband, first not sure about unschooling, is absolutely loving it and cannot imagine sending our son to school. Your workshop (and telling us to send him to school if he really wants that) helped. He relaxed because he knew it was his choice. He is a researcher and scientist like me so ones he looked at the school system, pressure, hours, etc he was on board.
So thank you because you created a better life for us three.


We met a few years ago here in France. I just wanted to tell you that you don't need to send me a gift as I owe you big time. This is only a tiny contribution. The gift you gave me is the wonderful relationship I share with my sweetheart and kids (and family and friends...) and the joyful life we have together. Thank you so much for your hard non paid work. I will be forever grateful for this precious gift you gave me without even knowing me.


Your presence in the world helping people, like me, have strong healthy relationships with our children (and repairing any damage we may have caused them before we found you) is a gift. And it's definitely been an amazing gift for my family. Thank you.
I am writing today to thank you. My son is nearly 8, and my daughter nearly 6. Had I not found you, our lives would be so different. Our family would not be who we are today, if not for your challenging and direct thoughts, shared openly.

This closeness that my family has, the appreciation for each other, the (awe-inspiring to me) self confidence that my children have- would have been missed by all of us.


Thanks again, very very sincerely, for all of the work you do and the help you give so generously. My kids tell me almost every single day how much they loooove our lives, which is amazing and wonderful, especially when you know they are 17,13 and 11. Words could never contain the gratitude our family feels for the links at your site, Just Add Light, and Always Learning. Thanks and wishing you ever increasing peace, blessings and good times!


Thank you for all your time, patience, kindness and dedication to further people's understanding as well as my own own understanding of Radical Unschooling. You share thoughts and ideas requiring deep and at times uncomfortable questioning.

Your words and your clarity have reached and touched our lives and my children's lives in every possible way, opening a world of questioning, understanding and seeing possibilities, and letting me learn how to make the ongoing necessary mental shifts to transform our lives. These shifts have also opened the doors to learning to live life in appreciation, peace and joy.


I used to feel so frustrated with your advice because whilst deep down I knew you were TOTALLY right, I had to work through so much of my own fear and issues to get to a point where I could fully trust in unschooling and see it in action. Just Add Light and Stir is hands down the best thing in my inbox every day. The gentle advice has helped me become more peaceful over the last few years, gradually and profoundly. Thank you Sandra and keep up the great work.
Our family really appreciates all the wisdom you impart and we would have never reached the point we're at without you. I remember the first time I came across your website and it was like I had stepped into a wormhole and been transported to this fascinating universe I never had any idea about. Literally, life changing.
I want to thank Sandra, and Pam, and Joyce for all their good thinking and writing. It helped me decide every day, for years and years, to be better and more thoughtful, to try harder and be involved. When I see the adversarial relationships some of my friends have with their grown children, I know things could have been very different for us. I'm grateful every day for Sandra's dedication to making and keeping good, clear information easily available (and free!) to people who want happier lives. Thank you so much!—Deb Lewis


Thank you for all the time you give. Giving people a great philosophy to live by is one thing but actually helping people to put it into practice is so much more.


Thank you Sandra, Pam, and Joyce, and so many other wonderful and generous women, for helping me strive to be a better person, a better mom, a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend. Thank you for helping me change and really BE better.
Thank you for encouraging me (through your words on Always Learning, your symposiums, the Just Add Light and Stir blog, your visits) to create this wonderfully rich life that is dripping with fun, interesting and challenging opportunities for my children. A life that is so rich, in fact, that it is simply not possible to do everything that comes our way.
If there is one person to thank for the increased number of smiles on faces of people around me, it's you :)
(A comment on someone else's video about me:)
I vividly remember hearing Sandra for the first time at a conference. I remember feeling her passion for her children coming through as she described many aspects of unschooling. I felt so connected to the concept and the process because of my painful memories of school. That day really changed my life! I actually found her afterward and spoke to her because I HAD to thank her for opening my eyes to new possibilities. Thank you Sandra!
To me and the moderators of Always Learning and of Radical Unschooling Info, 2014:
I am writing to state that our lives have been drastically changed, for the better, because of your gracious willingness to stay on topic and share what works. I cannot overstate the effect on our small family, in ways I could have never imagined or predicted. The difference in attitude, patience, peace and general well being is tremendous. I wanted to thank you for continuing to put yourself out there, unfortunately with all the abuse and negativity that often entails, so some of us can improve our lives with the gentle, mindful lifestyle you keep sweetly and patiently explaining :-)

I rarely post since I often find a solution from archives or as I am editing. I do read as much as I have the time for....so thank you, all, for your patience and generosity. It really does make a difference!


You have helped make parenting so sweet.

I would so like to give you a hug. Because reading things you've written have honestly set me free. I mean that in a figurative sense, of course, but I grew up under militant control, and I thought that was the "best" way to raise a child... I was wrong, and I'm undergoing a radical shift in myself finding who I am at twenty-six, right along with my near six year old child, who is flourishing, blossoming, and blissful. I was attempting to homeschool him and he hated it. I hated it. We hated it. Our home was miserable. I was browsing online and ran across a post of yours about unschooling and I thought, let's try it for a few weeks, I mean, what do we have to lose? Nothing! Needless to say, the few weeks have passed, everyone is happier, and we are all blossoming and finding who we are. It's strange and exhilarating. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.


Just a note of thanks for all that you do to help us live our lives as parents with peace and joy.

I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading the page and it's part of my nightly routine after my son and husband are sleeping. I'm in awe. You (and the other thoughtful volunteers) have challenged the way I see things and this held me accountable without knowing it, to a life filled with even more love. Relationships have improved with everyone in my life. I initially came on thinking about my 2.5 year old. Now I'm having healthier dialogue with my own mother, my inlaws, my husband, my co-workers and my attachment parenting group members.

I appreciate your take on food. That has been life changing in many ways on it's own! I was trained as a family nutrition coach but my views are now totally different. It surprised me how this positively impacted my marriage! My husband who takes such pride and puts so much love into homemade bread he makes us, and buying nice cheese.... he's so happy to not have me going through "kicks" that spoil the joy and fun!

And my son! I had never before heard of freedom with food (!) but it makes soooo much sense! My gosh! And the freedom! The FREEDOM!!


I've been reading your website for years but was still profoundly moved when I read your book this past week. Your work has done so much to bring peace, joy and learning into my family's life! Thanks to you, both of my kids have been unschooled since birth and I cannot tell you how many ways your work has helped us re-think and re-communicate the way we view life & family. I love your simple, truthful writing style- it really inspires me to clarity and peace with our decisions. Thank your for your contributions to unschoolers everywhere, both in information and in confidence! —Rachel
Every few years I find myself wanting to reach out to you and thank you. I really don't know how I can say thank you enough to someone who has not only changed my life, but made my children's lives infinitely better. Truly, I never ever imagined that my childhood hurts would be healed through the process of unschooling, or that my kids would be so smart and kind and cool...but here it is. Your work has been such a blessing to us...for more than a decade now! Many, many thanks! ~Betsy
Merry Christmas from one of the many families you help every day to be better unschoolers, sweeter spouses, greater parents, and kinder people overall.
Thank you for the advice and help you've provided me, and many others, all year long.
Always Learning has been helping my family since September 2009 when I discovered that homeschooling doesn't have to be school at home. I'm so grateful to the clear thinking and writing of Sandra and Joyce and the other experienced unschoolers in this group. You've been an incredibly valuable resource to us. I have such a different, affectionate, trustful and joyful relationship with my 15 year old daughter than anyone else I know and it is because I discovered Always Learning one day while I was desperately searching for guidance on how to homeschool.
Our lives are better because of you. David has a nicer wife, Dylan has a nicer mom, and I have a steady peace I might not have had without your generous work.
You use your craft of honing words so ideas become clearer. . . .You save words from other unschoolers that you find "true and beautiful" and curate them for future generations.
Thank you once again for the beautiful work that you do for people that you do not know and children that have not yet been born.
I am so very thankful for your experience, and I am so very thankful that you took the time in these years to blog, write books, and speak! It is all so CLEAR to me!! I could never, ever go back. I feel so free! I also know my children feel free as well!!
I am lucky in that when I started my unschooling journey I found Sandra quickly. The yahoo group that she runs (Always Learning) is THE BEST reading I have done in my life. (As an avid reader I don't say that lightly!) She is amazingly good at seeing and presenting things clearly - and there are many other amazing people there sharing as well - all of them (including Sandra) willing to change their minds. They like to think, dissect, analyze, brainstorm, and share - all in the name of helping families unschool and have sweeter, more joyful lives. I highly recommend people reading there for the best information on how to unschool - and it's all free! (by Susan May, in a comment on someone else's blog here: Public Apology to Sandra Dodd)
The ideas you've shared have made a big difference to my parenting and wife-ing. I quote you at odd moments. One I like is, "an unschooling family can never have too many tables."
Thank you for doing what you do, without you we wouldn't be so far on our journey, in such a fulfilling and joyful direction.
I hold a high respect for you, for your direct approach and for the example you live. I grow from every encounter with you. For this I am forever grateful. Connecting with you has altered my life and the life of my children in an expanding, magnificent way. Thank you. Thank you for all you are and for sharing so much of yourself with all of us.
I am sooo happy you were "out there" on the internet for me to find when I was looking into how to enrich our life while homeschooling. Unschooling makes sense, is so logical, but I would never have thought of bringing it all together so we could live our lives so happy and wonderfully, filled with happy and wonderful relationships, and filled with happy and wonderful learning. Thank you.
I really like what you wrote about rejecting a prepackaged life and I read it often. When my kids smile at me I feel true joy—it's more than happiness—I mean I get butterflies in my stomach at least once a day when they make eye contact with me and smile. I've wanted to ask before if other parents feel that. I just take a moment in the busy day and look at them with a smile and when they smile back my whole body gets tingly and my stomach gets that feeling, like when you're falling but an exciting fall-like a roller coaster. It's the best feeling and makes me think of how you write about finding joy in the little things we take for granted every day. —Amy McDonough
In the process of deschooling and Just downloaded your Big Unschooling Book Sandra, my heart is singing as I read.... Much appreciation for all your devotion and love to this subject. it shines through in your words.
You (and others on the Always Learning list) have helped me, over the years, to become more understanding. To be calmer, more balanced, more giving, more peaceful, happier, more giving... ...and that's made a world of difference for my kids, and my marriage, and my interactions with others..
I can't tell you how much this list and your add light and stir have helped and enriched my whole family's life. It started out helping me and my daughter's relationship and has now spread to my relationships with my husband, mum, sister and friends. It's truly life-changing.
You are a breath of fresh air. Your honesty and clarity have been a huge inspiration and I am learning to be that person that thinks and is mindful.
I keep feeling like I'm thirsty in a desert and you are a bucket of sparkly clear cold water.
I experienced such a turnaround of my own understanding of your list, and posts; I wish more people could get it, because, as you've heard from others, the writing on your list has done more to clarify unschooling for me, and help me be a better mom, than anything else I've done.
Our family's lives are better because of reading, listening, thinking about and considering what you share.
Thank you for being the biggest inspiration in my life. I love your unschooling website and visit it often. I silently read on always learning. Unschooling has changed my world (and my children have always been unschooled because I found this way early enough). I'm not a perfect unschooler.....whatever that is, lol, but I try, i'm always trying and learning and growing. So a huge thank you for all the time you give. Giving people a great philosophy to live by is one thing but actually helping people to put it into practice is so much more (comment on "Cocooning and other stillness")
I have been reading your very cool stuff for many years. You have impacted my life greatly. We started homeschooling our two daughters about 12 years ago and we gradually worked our way into unschooling 7 years ago. They are now almost 20 and 18 years old. How fabulous it has been and how wonderful they are! And my marriage of 26 years is much better because of wonderful advice like you shared today.
Thank you a thousand times over. I am only up to page 60 of your book and I love it so much I just had to tell you :) its so awesome, there was one page I particularly loved and was going to refer to, but by the time I got to the phone I found many more. I LOVE it! Thank you :)
Thank you again for sharing all of your wisdom about unschooling and life and relationships for free with whoever wants to read or listen. You have changed my way of thinking more than anyone else has and had the biggest positive impact on my life and therefore my husband's and kids' lives also. You've also positively impacted my friend's lives because I've shared so many of your ideas with them. I am so thankful that I found your list and website because you've helped us find a more peaceful and happy way to live.
Thank you for all you do for parents like me and for our children. I wish I was articulate enough to express all that I feel but I hope it is suffice to say that you have reached thousands of lives, bringing love, serenity and most importantly validity into our lives. Long may you do so.
The benefits that I continue to receive from unschooling are amazing. I know that my kids are benefitting for sure, but I love how much my husband and I have grown with it as well.
Your advice, and the others who have kindly contributed to the groups and website, have helped me give my daughter a loving, peaceful, interesting and joyful first two years of her life! She is an amazing child with a brilliant sparkle in her eyes.

Thank you for all the effort you go to help make children's and adults' lives better.


It was so wonderful to hear you speak at the conference this weekend, and to get to meet you in person. My husband and I both were transformed. You are such a blessing to this planet. :-D
I'm really grateful and wanted to let you know. Even if I don't one day have children of my own, I've no doubt that I am kinder and a stronger person and that much of what I've learned from you and others has changed my life and will continue to have an impact.
I am reading your Big Book of Unschooling- I have wanted to get it for some time and found it on itunes. Enjoying it. We have been very relaxed in schooling for years but my older 3 are now gone and I am down to 4 boys.. I have learned so much from you over the years and appreciate you greatly.. Thanks!
I just heard that there was some very bad behavior on your wall earlier today 7/23/12. I'm so sorry that it happened. No one deserves that especially someone so generous as you are -- helping people - not for money- not to get on TV- not to be famous but just because you hope people will have calm peaceful lives and loving relationships with their children.
I am an unschooling mom of a 7 yr old living in Chennai, India and am in awe of you and what you write - so clear and so honest.
Your Surrey conference literally changed lives in my family. I can't thank you enough. ←←I have to agree with Carol. Your talks in Leiden changed a lot in our family as well. The biggest change is that peace and harmony are number one priority now. We are now more connected with each other and I feel this is only the beginning.

I'll be forever grateful for having found you and your work and your list and everything that has put me on this path of gradually becoming a better writer, a better thinker, a better analyzer, a better mom, a better wife, a better person, etc. the list goes on and on. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you.


I would like to say thank you for the work you have done. Your work has brought me to a new and greater understanding of my relationship with my children. Being with my children has been a personal growth experience as I have had to re-shape much of what I thought I had figured out. It is always a pleasant experience though coming to new understanding, new ways of living, and thinking as a family. Finding more harmony and balance in our relationship as a family. Most importantly my children have an equal and valid voice no matter how young. Their emotions, thoughts, and opinions are always heard and considered. I do the same for my husband and him for me. As a result we are happier as a family. In fact it's because of that , that we are Unschooling. My children were struggling in Homeschool as was I as thier "teacher". So here we are. Relieved as a family to be the owners of our lives. (—Angela Z., at familyRUN.ning, June 20012)
Thank you for coming up here. [to a conference in 2012}
You raise the level of thoughtful discussion wherever you go.
I really did want to let you know that you have changed my family’s life for the better. In big, big, big ways.
I wanted to add my thanks for everything you do - every time I read one of your web pages or blog posts or the Always Learning List I feel more inspired or reassured or whatever it is I need at that point of my unschooling journey.
I had always wanted to learn to be live in the moment, but it seemed a great mystery. Having my daughter and becoming an unschooler, I finally get it! Most days, anyway. I didn't even know until I read this post today. I'm not worried about the future, or fussing over the past. We are living together, happily, every day. What a nice way to be. Thanks for your help! *
"I ♥ Sandra Dodd. I am staying up late.. entranced by her words of wisdom. This will so be worth the tiredness I will face today!"
I don't think I can eloquently tell you how much your writing, website and Always Learning have helped me and my family—but wow, have they ever. I truly believe I am a much better parent thanks to your efforts. I am sincerely grateful. THANK YOU!!!
Thank you!!!
Your list, your life are inspiring and given so generously. I am seeing so much growth in myself and in my family....Enjoyment is a word I will practice using and living.
I have worked as an attachment based child therapist for the past 10 years, but have recently been inspired to Radically Unschool my children... I have learned so much already from lurking in the group, and it is transforming the way I think, counsel, and parent with my partner. My family is happier now ...because our relationships are stronger. I really appreciate it.
I just wanted to say a big "THANK YOU!". I'm learning about unschooling and, as a surprise, now watching how it is working its way into so many other areas of my life. It is really causing me to take a "fresh look" at EVERYTHING! Sometimes, I am a bit overwhelmed at all the conditioning that I didn't realize I had, but I'm so grateful for the personal thoughts and stories shared through this list and on the websites. You are all opening my eyes, (and heart).
I know you hear it a lot, but it bears repeating - thanks for sharing your life and insight with the world. I quote you often, and the parenting ways that you share have made a huge difference in my life and the life of my kids.
Wow Sandra. You are truly amazing! I was going through an old chat transcript on young children. It took me quite some time to read it and the whole time I was thinking "this has so many wonderful ideas, I should sit and cull out all the good ones one day". I was on my phone so couldn't do it then and also couldn't see the entire page on the screen. So I thought one of these nights I'll get up after the kids sleep, and make a list. Then for some reason I took a look at the page again and the screen moved and there it said "Some of the Good Parts"!!! I couldn't believe it. Just what I wanted to do (and probably would have taken ages doing), all done and ready, waiting for anyone who might need it. The time you invest in and the lengths to which you go to make this easier for others is mind-boggling. Wanted to tell you, yet again, that it is deeply appreciated. [I think that might have been about this one: young children. —Sandra]
I am so glad and so grateful that you have the passion, intelligence, generosity, patience, courage, time and ability to write SO many and SUCH good things for free, for strangers! I especially was appreciating at the moment your “skepticism” page. Jeepers. Go you!
Your ability to get where someone is at from a just a few sentences is incredible and your answers are to the point and so effective. What you wrote was absolutely what I needed to hear. I do not feel so lost and stuck, and I realise how much I have to get together not just conceptually, but deep in my heart.
What you do, this gathering of unschooling thoughts and ideas and discussions, is such a lovely thing. Thank you.
Your words have opened my eyes and changed my life.
I have gained sooo much from reading on your sites and blog and the your Yahoo group. My daughter's life has been enhanced by the information and inspiration you have given. More that that actually, our family life has benefited enormously and my husband and I have grown and are parenting in ways we didn't even know we could ;-)
I am an avid reader of your AlwaysLearning group. I joined the group just a couple months ago, and I want to THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART for having it (yes, the caps were intended!). Truly the list has helped change my life and perspective and it is a huge piece of helping me be the mom I want to be, not the mom my mother was. I have a four year old daughter who is the light of my life and am married to her father, who is now "the other" light of my life.

I won't give you the long detailed adventure of our coming to unschooling, but here we are. And my de-schooling is painful and joyful all at once.



these two were sent to Diane Flynn Keith after she interviewed me in April, 2011. You can buy a sound file of that here.
"Thank you for the telephone interview with Sandra Dodd! That was very informative and encouraging!!!" ~ Julie H.

"For the past few days I've been reviewing in my mind and very thankful for someone like Sandra Dodd and you for hosting the interview. I truly enjoyed every min. Thank you. Thought of what she said this morning, about gaps in everyone's education, parents jealousy of their children coming up with ideas and not having to work as hard or children having a whole different mentality. So much truth and realness and simplicity." ~ Michele S.


I wanted to thank you so much for all the amazing resources you have so willingly shared on the web. I am a mother of 2 girls and have a lot to learn about unschooling and peaceful parenting. I feel so blessed to have discovered both your site and the homeschooling community of India.
I have just finished reading your book and my daughter can read now and keeps asking mum WHOs sandra dodd lol :) Its a lovely feeling when she reads things out to me as I can see how far she has come in her unschooling journey :) Thanks for your lovely writing :)"
I read the "Big Book" cover to cover over the last few days, and I just want to thank you again for it. I came back from my business trip feeling so positive and energetic about my family and our lives together, it's amazing to me. I'm going to order an extra copy for the bathroom (as suggested), and one for my mother, who is a schoolteacher and wants to know what this unschooling thing that we're doing is all about.
I bought your book (Big Book of Unschooling) online and you sent it very quickly. I devoured it as soon as it arrived and laughed and cried (often at the same time!) my way through it. I want to thank you, both for the book and for all the great work that you do in sharing your wisdom and inspiration. I am so glad you are out there, running the Always Learning List and contributing to other lists I have come across.
I just wanted to let you know that I have been lending your book to a number of interested folks. Today I got this on facebook; thought you might like to see it. Thanks again for being such an inspiration!
This Sandra Dodd book is BLOWING MY MIND!!! =)

I must share with you that I have benefited so much from Just Add Light and Stir. We are one of very few unschooling families here..., so it is very refreshing to receive your daily words of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to publish your blog. It is truly a blessing to us in our unschooling journey. I finally feel "free" after several years of trying to "do school at home." Our whole family is living a much more peaceful existence. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am living in Italy and I can not thank you enough for the breath of fresh air your blog is to me every day! Thanks so much for helping me to unschool myself in time to help my kids! I really appreciate you!
I started to write this to you in an email and then I thought it might be appropriate for the list. I'm probably not the only parent who sometimes finds transitions a challenge. When I'm writing a book, as I am now, I'm "in my head" a lot—immersed in the manuscript, thinking about the story, hearing the characters speak. I have a set time of day when I write & my husband is the one spending time with the kids, and I try to fully emerge from book-world when *I'm* the one with the children—to be present and mindful and fun. But the transition can be difficult; sometimes the characters in my head don't want to shut up!

Over the years, I have developed certain habits for helping myself over those transition moments from *focused on kids* to *focused on writing* and vice versa. I usually transition from kids-to-writing by writing *about* the kids for 15 or 20 minutes—that's how my blog came into being 6 years ago. The writing-to-kids transition takes more mental effort, if I've been deep into the work—it can be a bit like when you wake up from a vivid dream and you're groggy and distracted for a few minutes. Lately my favorite way to make the transition is to visit your Just Add Light and Stir blog. It's like a little shot of mental mom-espresso for my brain, a stimulant for the part of me that wants to be present and attentive and cheerful when I walk back out into this houseful of kids. So I wanted to thank you for those posts. They make me eager to zoom back out into the "big noisy peace," to borrow your excellent phrase, and join in the fun.

I'm fond of the people in my head, but the people in my house are better!

Thanks so much,

Lissa in San Diego, mom of six


I just wanted to tell you that I have been really enjoying your blog lately. I have had loads of fun clicking on one of the links at the bottom of an entry to see where that leads, clicking on another from there and so on. I have been to England and 1977 and Texas and seen Barbies and mirrors, and the whole world. It is a great way to travel through the archives instead of just reading entries in order! —Marin Holmes
A little gushing: I've read a lot. Few write with your clarity. As to your writings on food, sleep, "screen time" and other parenting topics, "YES, YES, YES!" I've got so many delicious examples of the joy and generosity my baby exudes. She will be two next month. I have an unblemished relationship with her and the path ahead has been illuminated for me first by Holt's writings and now by yours. Life is good.
I have been so impressed with and challenged by your clarity of thought and respect for everyone. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us who are still trying to figure out how unschooling works.
I went to see Sandra talk today, she was great, so sweet, funny, smart, and informative.
"There are many good people in this world, good in all sorts of ways...honest, full of integrity, generous, kind. You are definitely one of them, Sandra!"
I am grateful for your presence.
Your writing is as you are. There are no pretenses and no falsehoods from you. And if you change your stance on something persuant to new experiences etc you will tell all. It is not common by any means.
I'm guessing reading your writing and getting to know you has changed every cell in my being. Every relationship I have has changed for the better. I continue to see positive changes in my life as a result of what you do.
Candid Commentary

What is Sandra’s message? If I were going to sum it up, I would say it is that life itself always presents opportunities for learning, but that often we miss it, or dismiss it. .... In a world where most people think you can’t learn on your own outside of structure and classroom, it’s good to have her competent reassuring voice nearby, at least on paper.

"Sandra was really, really nice and Saren had a great time playing with Holly and her other friends at the pool..."

"Enter Sandra Dodd, goddess of all that is Radical Unschooling.
Sandra Dodd is a true inspiration to me. She lives her life purely and raises her children the same way..."

"Today I finished reading Sandra Dodd’s “Moving a Puddle, and other essays”. There were quite a lot of inspiring messages, and I felt really excited about all the possibilities ahead of us."

"I printed off a bunch of papers last night to read by Sandra Dodd. www.sandradodd.com She has a lot of interesting thoughts on unschooling."

...—what Sandra Dodd called Leaning on a Truck or Parallel Play—or CS Lewis talked about as friendship—"

... And other times when I read Sandra Dodd and think YES, I grok that, I'm an unschooler!

... this morning an article, Deschooling for Parents, by Sandra Dodd came to me. She says, "The more quickly you empty your cup and open yourself up to new ideas uncritically, the sooner you will see natural learning blossom." I needed to hear that.

sandra dodd's website helped immensely. especially the section on food issues. it opened my eyes wide.

I had the Sandra Dodd "connections" page open on the laptop today...

Marin loaned me Sandra Dodd's book, Moving A Puddle and I've been reading that for a couple of days. It's been interesting...


Shan wrote:
"Thanks for writing about a puddle and utterly changing our lives. We aren't the first or the last to say so, I know, but that doesn't mean we mean it any less. =D"
I want to tell you I put all of Austin's curriculum on sale today. Such a huge step for me. I have been keeping it "just in case". Then when re-reading your book this afternoon I came across a quote about not starting on a journey if you take one step but leave the other foot on your front lawn. Something I probably missed the first time I read it or it didn't click with me. So, thanks again for your words and time! My son thanks you also. And my husband.
The more I read, the more I love each page of your great and wonderful website. Thank you so much for all the different subjects, the variety, the complexity, etc. from the bottom of my heart.:-)
Thank you so much for wisdom...It has changed my life :)
Thank you so much for being a light in the wilderness. My children also thank you! I still have a long way to go but man am I having fun on this journey!
You helped change our world. :) I was thinking about my relationship with my kids the other day, and the changes since we started parenting differently and unschooling. They know that we LIKE them—there's mutual trust, and kindness, and humor. You helped me work through some real knots in my thinking and I will always be grateful for that. What you do for families is a powerful thing. (Laura P, in public on facebook)
I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first HSC conference last weekend and attending two of your talks. I consider you the “rock star of unschooling” and I was cracking up at how my heart was all a-flutter to be there with you in person! It was a joy and an inspiration to hear you speak and I hung on every word. My husband and I are still laughing about (and horrified by) the Hallmark Coupon Book. The conference was perfectly timed for us. I had spent the week before the conference on a vacation with my not-so-supportive in-laws and, in retrospect, I can see that I had been thrown off the unschooling track. You got me back on the bus, sister! And I can tell you for a fact that, this week, thanks to your inspiration and encouragement, I am the mother I have always wanted to be. I’m saying “yes” more than ever, and my children are flourishing. Thank you!

I appreciate the work you do sharing information and ideas. It really helps me be a better mom. Thanks.


Sandra Dodd's website changed my family's life, my whole view of children and control and love, over the last 4 years we have moved through various stages of deschooling and relearning and it has been amazing and all angst about whether or not my children will learn or not has long gone, and the need to control what they do has subsided...


I cannot express enough my gratitude for the things I have learned from you. You have changed my life and my children's life. We are so much happier and nothing can stop our learning! And whenever I feel confused and I am too engrossed in reading and absorbing information, I hear your voice saying "go to be with your children" :)) —J. Larson


Hi Sandra! May is our one-year anniversary of pulling Michael out of (pre) school....Thanks again from the bottom of my heart for changing our lives *every single day*. -Jessica (S)
I can't skim Sandra's writing—her style is so different that it stops me in my tracks. I reread her stuff often. —Renee Cabatic
I've recently been reading a lot of the postings to the list and your website. And I just wanted to say thank-you for putting yourself, your life and your mind out there for us all to pick at. :)
** This list (Always Learning) is better for helping people get to unschooling than anything else available anywhere else in the world.**

I absolutely believe this. I've only been reading here for a few weeks but it has revolutionized the way I parent in a way that I know therapy could never do - at least not in time for my children to grow up feeling abundantly loved. I was in therapy when my older kids were little, mostly for help with parenting. In the one case I received and followed the worst advice possible re: sleep issues with my son (then 6) which has caused to him to be afflicted with deep-seated anxiety about sleeping away from home, even now at 15. The other therapist really helped me to put some of my own childhood traumas into perspective and that did help my parenting somewhat...but not in the all-encompassing way that this list - and Sandra's & Joyce's web site - have done. Unschooling is about a paradigm shift. It has taken me over a year (since first being exposed to the "radical" unschooling philosophy) to get to this point of really understanding and embracing that paradigm, but thanks to people like Sandra and Joyce, I'm here. And I feel like I've finally connected with my real self. Like I've come home. And it is such a relief! :D

~Leah


(I took the names off this one because I don't want to embarrass those who were named, but this is sweet stuff about my kids following the Good Vibrations Conference:)

Sandra,

I'm writing because I always wanted to write a fan letter :). I saw you in San Diego, and I saw you in Albuquerque. I have your books, and I've read a lot of what you've written online. I rarely read any list but Always Learning. And honest to God, I am grateful every day for you for sharing your life.

I have three daughters... and none of them ever had to go to school. One of the reasons they've been spared is because of you. Thank you.

But I really wanted to tell you that everyone in my family came in contact with at least one of your kids in some way in San Diego, and all of us were impressed. My oldest... told me that Marty was so funny, and Holly impressed my husband when she showed up at baby dolls and played with the littles, and Kirby knocked my socks off when he heard me talking about facebook. He said (and I'm paraphrasing), "I'll be your friend. Not on facebook. I'll just be your friend." Your children are so warm and sweet. And I loved seeing what my children have in store for them.

Thank you for making a difference....


This lady changed my life. She confronted a falsely embedded quality in me and made more positive difference in me and the lives of my family than any thing or person had ever done. She is a clear and solid voice for children. (B.H., on a Facebook group)


Your website is truly a never ending goldmine full of gems and treasures and I truly appreciate your experience and expertise.


You and your writings have helped to enrich our lives immeasurably over the past 10 years or so.


My kids are getting a happier childhood here on the other side of the world because of your site.


That is a good answer!
I am so grateful for you being here. Helping me...everyone who asks.
You are a wise and beautiful woman..inside and out!


Thanks so much for your fantasy land of a website. (written about the randomizer)


Thank you so much for freely sharing such a wealth of information. Do pass on my appreciation to Pam, Joyce and Jenny too. Your concise writings and discussion responses not only clear away self doubt, but inspire and energise my unschooling life.

Forever grateful to you and your family,

Kathryn Dubay
Mum to Mia (7), Jude (4) and Rueben (1)


Have I told you I love all the ideas behind Unschooling, because I do!! Thanks for all that you do :-)


thanks for being one of the 2 or 3 people whose pages I can resonnate with, for bothering at all (because you really don't HAVE to, right?) to put all that time and effort into conveying this information, bothering to learn how to put up a web page, making it usable and useful, and for inspiring other people to do the same. I am not sure why people are willing to share all they know with the world, given the massive time expenditure involved, but I am glad and thankful that they do :)


[to the Always Learning list:] (T)hank you all so much for being here, for having not only answers, but also attitudes and stories that prove to me that not only is this way of life possible, it's natural and rich, filled with moments of grace that sneak in at the edges of things (often at 4:30 am around here!). I know you've all heard this before, but you have helped the Burton family become more joyous and peaceful!


I just wanted to say thank you for your amazing site and all the work you do to promote unschooling. Since I've started reading your site and joined the AlwaysLearning list, our lives have been so much happier. We are getting along better than ever before, and we're all enjoying discovering new things every day. I'm looking at the world with new eyes, and everything looks bigger and brighter and we can't wait to explore it all! —Tammy


After years of reading your stuff and learning from all you share, Just felt the urge to drop you an e-note saying WE LOVE YOU!!!! Heartfelt thanks for all you do.


Hello! As a fledgling unschooling mom your website has been a source of inspiration, reassurance, and delicious possibility. I would be thrilled to count you as a friend and mentor.


I just wanted to ask: Do you get paid for being you, and spending so much of your life supporting and encouraging and advocating for unschooling/unschooling families? Because you should!!! I forward links to your site on an almost daily basis...You are my go-to place for ALL things unschooling (and life related, really, as it all just blends together!!) Anyway, thank you!!! My life is changed and enriched every day from being able to read your words!


I've been so influenced by your writing and presence in the unschooling world. Thanks so much for being who you are and contributing to the changing world of parenting and learning. The world is definitely a better place because of you : )


It was such a breath of fresh air to read such intuitive, respectful, gentle parenting. I felt like I found the last missing puzzle piece.


Your website is incredible. Thanks for that; it's helped me more than you can know.


I love the fact that you put so much thought into each page on your site. I'm sure people have said but it bears repeating that those webpages and the whole site is a grand thing. I love wandering around in it.


I am so grateful for the consistent excellence of "Always Learning" and SandraDodd.com. Just wanted to let you know.


I was directed to Sandras site and Joyces, and spent a few wakefull nights reading through the tears. Within a very short time i was convinced that unschooling was the healing, whole, natural way we were craving.


man, you can get lost in all the links with all that you have here Sandra...but it is sooo cool, because the flow from one page to another is perfect.


Sandra, I admire you and I want to thank you for all the things you have written about unschooling and radical unschooling. Our lives have change since we started to homeschool, deschool, unschool and radical unschool 2 and a half years ago. I'm still struggling with my school mentality. But I'm positive. My kids are the best teachers. They have 16,11 and 8 (all boys). Do you know spanish? I'm here with my dictionary. Well I'll appreciate any advice from you about this wonderful way of life. Hugs, Joannette from Puerto Rico.


Thank you so much for being such a fantastic mentor in our lives!


"Dhanyavaad shrimati Doddji" as they would say here :-)


Hi Sandra
Your website has changed my life! Thank you sooooo much. Your words of wisdom have also touched my husband who was hard to convince until we found your work. Our house is transforming daily...no more power struggles over TV, sleep, food, etc. THANK YOU SO MUCH...we are breathing free-er now and actually enjoying our day! (Amanda on familyRUN.ning.com)


[of Always Learning] I believe I've joined and left this list several times starting in 2006. Each time I rejoined, I was in a little bit different place in unschooling. I have been offended many times on this list, even to the point of tears. Then after thinking about it for a while, I realized it was because I was facing something that needed to be addressed. I can honestly say that I've grown more as a person, parent and unschooler due to the discussions on this list than on any other list I've been on.


Discussions on [Always Learning] (and Unschooling Discussion) have sometimes taken me aback or made me uncomfortable but have *always* helped me to think more clearly, examine myself and those "mindless thoughts" more closely.


When I move thru your site, I feel like a child in a candy store, or like I'm in a fantastic meandering castle with hidden secret rooms and magic doors to new realities.


I've been reading your unschooling writings for around five years or so, being simultaneously terrified and attracted. Well, less terrified and more attracted as time goes by. Thank you.


Thanks again for your fabulous site Sandra...I hadn't looked on there for a while, but needed to find some info about "late" readers, and there it was.


Hi Sandra, I am one of the many mothers whose life and family's lives has radically improved due to your generosity and dedication.

Aloha Sandra, / I thought I'd send you a copy of an essay I wrote for a school assignment in which I used quotes from your site to back up my argument. / Thanks for being there .. and for sharing your good sense. / A fan...[name]


I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you THANK YOU for all the work you do to help people understand unschooling. It is so rare to find people who understand what we are doing, let alone support it. Reading your Yahoo group Always Learning (along with the happiness I see in my son) helps me have the courage to keep unschooling. I'm usually a few weeks behind reading posts so I don't post much but I'm there lurking, learning, and appreciating.
Barbara

Yo soy super fan de Sandra; es una mujer con la que se tienen debates muy interesantes. (From comments following a translation of "Respect" here)


I love how your website is like unschooling webified, lol. It has pages flowing all over the place, almost anything someone wants to know or learn about can be found there, it's awesome. So, thank you for the time and effort you've put into it. —Jen


I just want to thank you Sandra, every time I have doubts or worries, I come here and feel refreshed.
[I]f it had not been for your articles and for the messages you posted on this board, I don't know if I would be unschooling right now. You really 'brought it home for me' so to speak. Our unschooling is working for us more and more each day, with no real 'work' involved!

Angie, there, near the end


Dear Sandra,

I cannot thank you enough for your website. Your obvious labor of love is helping me every day. Its my daily 10 minute fix during the time it takes for my 2 year old to settle into my lap for her naptime. I have been a reader off and on pretty much hovering around the TO TV or not to... etc or meals etc... part of the site.... for about 2 years. (As i explored montessoris, waldorf, homeschooling etc) But the conditioning that had me in its grip has been slipping away slowly and surely. Finally.... WE ARE HAVING FUN.

We love unschooling/life-learning and are just joyous almost all the time. learning, playing, working... not sure what the difference is any more. Its been a little over 3 months... and as my ds turns 5 and dd turns 2.... dh and i have never had a better time as a family. Surprising how in tune with myself i am these days. I used to struggle to parent... and now i don't.

We are deschooling big time and your essays are helping me immensely. We recently moved from NJ to Singapore and are now on our way to India... so its been a crazy time for all of us... but with unschooling everything is relaxed, playful and there is no stress. My parenting-life, learning, art, writing, reading are all connected better.

Just really want to share my joy with some one who appreciates this way of life so much. Thank you for sharing thru your sites. They are indescribably helpful and inspirational to me.

Love, Hema
PS: I have yet to read your book... but i love that title. So the other day when jumping in some puddles my son said "we can move puddles by channeling water"... I knew i had to write a thank you :-)


I just wanted to take a minute to email you. I LOVE reading everything on this group and your website. My daughter isn't even 2 yet, but when I read about you and all the other families out there living this way I get so excited. This way of life is so exciting and appealing to me. I love that it unschooling is a choice I never thought of before a few months ago but now every day I am more and more sure that all of the ideas presented by you and others contain keys to help me build a life more joyful and fulfilling than I ever imagined with my husband, daughter, and future children.

thank you!!!
Susan May


We don't know each other, but I read your blog a lot and love reading your posts on the AlwaysLearning list. You've (unknowingly) done a lot to help me become the kind of mom I want to be.

I've said it before but I'll tell you again, your writings on lists, your website and your book as well as seeing you speak at two L&L Conferences has changed my and more importantly my children's lives so much for the better that I don't think I can ever thank you enough.

Gushingly,
Chris in IA


I've been thinking a lot lately about how fun and wonderful our lives have become. Just walking through a store the other day, my heart felt like it would burst with joy. All we were doing was holding hands and talking! Anyway, I owe it to this list, to you. I am so proud of the family we have become. —Amy


I was one of those people who was "offended" by Sandra awhile back. That's because she is upfront and honest and immediately holds up a mirror and I wasn't used to that nor was I ready to see what the reflection staring back at me. Awhile ago I went back and reread some things that had been written to me months later and laughed because they were in no way, shape or form offensive! I was only offended because it was *my* issue....

... *I* certainly respect Sandra and all the other veteran unschoolers on this board. Without them my family would probably still be in shambles. Because of them, our lives are infinitely enriched with laughter and connection and love. I owe them an awful lot for their "rudeness".

Tara, on AlwaysLearning, March 2008


I really like that you know where you stand, what you're doing and that you're not trying to be all things to all people. :) That's refreshing!

Sandra: Just happened upon your blog. You have been my quiet inspiration for many years. Your words gave me the understanding and courage to say no, not only to school, but to the idea of "school" at home. My kids are 19, 18 and 14 now. What a great trip it's been and still is.

So...after all these years, thank you for quietly being a part of my family's life even though you never knew.

Many thanks and tons of gratitude:
Kim (3/08)


It's quite a thrill to see my name and my stories on YOUR page ;-) Thanks so much for all you do to help others "get" unschooling.

Kate


...a note of thanks for your work, your site, your book, your conviction!

I love to read.... In parenting, the greatest and most meaningful influences have been John Holt, Charlotte Mason, and Sandra Dodd's emails.


Always Learning is my favorite board, it keeps me on track. You’ve helped me in so many ways. I truly appreciate you and your generosity of time and energy for people who want to get this and get it right.

Thanks.


I just wanted to thank you for your website. It is truly a wonderful resource for me and many others I have talked to. You are such a shining example for the rest of who still have work to do!


[This was an e-card, and I kinda feared to open it because I didn't recognize the name, but I am SO GLAD I did!!! the art was a flash movie of a lighthouse, and words appeared: "Thank you for showing me the light."]

Chitra here from India.

Wish you a grand New Year!
Your website proved to be a big boon to me, when I was unable to decide.

I can never thank you enough for the great work you do!

May God bless you with health and happiness in bounty!

Today for the first time, my daughter(6years) did something which I did not teach her - she prepared an official invoice by herself. she had observed it from our office staff and tried it today. The first glimpse of the miracle of homeschooling, i witnessed!

I wanted to share it with you first and thank you - b'cos when I was worried and nobody supported my decision to homeschool, it was your website I stumbled upon.
And got my confidence.

Thank you.

lots of hugs - chitra


I actually enjoyed your error page! It gave me confidence to guess that you meant "math" instead of "maty" and I tried again successfully. Probably the coolest error page I have encountered. : )   — Julie


I just have to say you never cease to amaze me! i just LOVED this post! You have such a way with words, but more importantly, you really really know what you are talking about :)
What a delight it is to read your info. I appreciate all the thought and help you put into helping us moms.....and kids!!!!
Thanks for having such a wonderful site and for being such a strong and honest presence on the Unschooling Discussion list. I respect your no-holds-bar approach to answering people. It probably doesn't hurt that I completely agree! :) You've really helped me see that it does no good to my children for me to be a better parent later, it only does them good for me to be a better mother now. I knew this deep-down, but I appreciate hearing it regularly on the Unschooling Discussion list. I think parents get complacent sometimes and that doesn't do anyone any good. I don't think you get thanked enough. You are really, every day, changing the world for the better!

I will be forever grateful to people like Sandra Dodd and Pam Sorooshian for putting information about radical unschooling out there, for living it and for continuing to write about it. Our lives are changed forever and definitely for the better. Of course we have day-to-day crap like everyone else but life with my kid is so much more fun and peaceful than I ever thought it could be! (more)


...[S]he mentioned you a blog post about gratitude that I thought was really nice. If you want to check it out it's here: http://barn-raising.blogspot.com/2007/11/gratitude-day-two-unschooling.html

There are a lot of us who are very thankful for you and your work :)


Before I crawl back under my rock, let me take this opportunity to publically thank you and the others on this list who so selflessly provide support and advice and concrete ways to apply unschooling to every facet of our lives. You do it so willingly and so thoughtfully. I wonder if you will ever know how many lives you've affected in the most positive ways.


"I just wanted to say that at times i was really put off by things you've said, because I was reading I guess just a little too superficially, and now as I am finally getting the feel of where your philosophy or principles come from, I am seeing how in line they are with my own...
and I am so happy to see a group of people living as I wish and am striving to live..." (ellipses were in the original)

I wrote and thanked someone for sending a post for me to use, and she responded:

Thank YOU! Your website is invaluable-thanks for going the extra mile and organizing all these nuggets and gems into one BIG treasure chest, for all of us to sift through whenever we need to feel that unschooling "richness"!!


I must admit, I came to your site out of curiosity after reading some negative stuff on another forum. I wanted to "see for myself" who this woman was, who was only talked about in hushed tones (almost like Harry Potter's Voldemort). After reading some Unschoolingdiscussion archives on yahoo, your site, and some you link to, all I have to say is
                                    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!!
I was reading all this with rapt attention and have been inspired by alot of it.


When I was reading your website, at the beginning, and your lists, and the other lists, sometimes, I was crying, crying.. It was good tears, really. Like something so deep in me, you touched something in my heart, I can't explain.. It was like a new family..

Sylvie, in France


Last year, I wrote for the first time explaining my family's situation. You wrote back and your post changed our lives. It'll be our one year anniversary in the next week or two, of the kids being home and I've just been thinking that alot lately. . . . I thought you might like to know your advice didn't fall on deaf ears, that the effort and energy you put out is really effecting the world in such a positive way—every day!—and how grateful I am that you take the time to do what you do.
My biggest thanks to you is that you constantly challenge me to "think outside the box". Thanks for being around and being patient with me and others! You're truly unique.


Thanks for making it easier for me to do what feels right.

I often hear Sandra's voice in my head and it's always one of honesty, reason and truth. There isn't a day that goes by as I look at our unschooling lives that I don't say a silent "thank you" for her words, her commitment and the difference in my children's lives because of our connection. So thanks from this part of the world too. The words and ideas she shares make our world better every day.
Thank you all to all who share your time and energy helping people like me *get it*.       —Rachel wrote more, you can read it here.
I'm anxious to go through your aticles. I've read all your articles on the CHORES during my sept vacation and it helped a ton! My daughter helps out so much more now that she isn't on a regular list ...and there is much healing coming into our lives, healing and peace and I cannot share what joy we've all found now.

Lisa


Thanks for all your experience, strength and "tough love" on us in your group. You've opened my eyes so, so much. I know if my dd knew how much freedom and respect your guidance has given her through me she'd say Thank You too.

Missi


Thanks so much ,
You are a breath of fresh air !
Ellyn
CRITICISM

In the interest of balance and fairness, I've had critics.

SECOND-HAND CRITICISM, interestingly turned:

If you are considering unschooling, please visit Sandra Dodd's site. I've found it to be very informative and helpful.
(That sounds positive, but all around it are quotes of criticism of "humanism" and other problems people on that site had with unschooling ideas.)

I know many have written to me complaining about her style- she’s too gruff, she is mean, she is condescending, she is harsh… wah wah wah. She is also RIGHT almost all of the time!source


I just wanted to say I agree with you 100%. I happen to like the term horseshit quite well. Very fitting actually. Have you ever been over to Sandra’s unschoolers forum? If not you really should go check it out. A friend of mine sent me a link to it a couple of weeks ago because she got completely bashed there for making a suggestiong regarding healthy food. I thought that in this day and age nothing could shock me. I was wrong. Horseshit on top of horseshit smoothered in horseshit. in context, and I took names out because I'm nicer than they are. Nobody was bashed here. Maybe she meant on a list. And even then, I think some people interpret anything short of "OOOOH! What a good iDEEah" to be bashing.

(Most criticism; some defense of ideas.)


MORE DIRECT:

I myself have had a recent disillusion regarding Unschooling, or more appropriately…Sandra Dodd’s particular interpretation and representation of the idea, mindset, and practice (the truth of which will not be found on her website but must be discovered through interaction with her). To be more precise, I now question and doubt her representation of it in the face of her inability to afford other adults the same courtesy, respect, and space that she claims we should all give to children.

More of that, but it's much misrepresentation

I am NOT recommending her in the slightest. She's likely done more damage to new unschooling families than anyone else I can think of—though if you're curious, go look at UnschoolingDiscussion (because there can be only one) now at google's groups.

Her stance is much like that of African witch doctors who offer their clients potions and ablutions to ward off machete blows and gunfire: if you have a problem, it's your fault for having not followed the one true path.

Blech.

(on a list I'm not on)


Oh geez, she scared the bejeesus out of me, I've never been treated so rudely on an email list before. I did go over her website, though and she does have interesting stuff on it but she takes a lot of pleasure in being condenscending to newbies or just plain mean and her rabid followers are the same way. How can someone who touts respect and love be so nasty to fellow adults? I don't get it, I just lurk on her list anymore and look for info that is helpful to me. I wouldn't spend any money or exert any effort to read her stuff, though—she seems very hypocritical to me.



I completely disagree with putting all your energy into making your children happy, and quite franky, putting all your energy into making your children happy has absolutely NOTHING to do with unschooling. I see by your links that you see yourself as some kind of unschooling prophet but honestly, no-one gets to define unschooling for anyone else. There is a loosely held definition of "child-led learning" that many of us incorporate into a lifestyle of accepting that our children can find their own limits in life, but honestly, doing whatever it takes (putting maximum energy) to make a child happy is not unschooling.
(on the Live and Learn list)


September 28, 2009, I received a barrage of demands that I remove a paragraph from my blog and here. Although it had been anonymous, the author zinged around to the point of saying she might want to publish it someday (when I asked if she considered it a literary work). I left a note on the blog, right above a photo of my entire family with Pam Sorooshian's whole family— six kids all leading really cool lives, all unschooled. Positive and Negative Feedback


There's one too rude to leave here. It has "the F word." Read it only if you're brave. It's here. (I'll add other rudeness there to keep this page from getting too long.)
Those who don't think I'm the devil have been called "Sandranistas," "Doddites" and "Doddoheads," by people who claimed I was scary and rude.

There have been some fabrications created to discredit me too. http://sandradodd.com/detractors

Things you have said directly to me on the lists, and through your writings, have helped me to overcome a serious depression and stop being so concerned about myself but rather being more of a mother to my children, and given me strength to work on things with my husband rather than give up...

Sandra, thank you for being you; for your writings, your postings to me and to the unschooling groups. You've challenged me to think, to see things in different ways, and to BE who I want to be as a person and as a parent. I truly appreciate it!

Elizabeth Roberts


I feel deeply grateful to be in contact with you, to share insights and your sparkling writings are a fount of inspiration for me!!

Jeanne, in Switzerland


Thanks for putting up your unschooling site. Yours was the first unschooling information I ever saw, and I remember feeling incredibly free and happy when I read about "Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum." I realized that there was an alternative to school or school-at-home that would be fun and joyful and true to me and my family.

Rinnyboo


In 1997 I started reading. I read lots of folks and 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. I looked for things she'd written because everything spoke to me, everything, and I had already read John Holt but here was a mom, talking plainly about her family, talking lovingly about her kids, admitting openly her mistakes. This was so powerful to me because although I think we were *natural* unschoolers, I had something more to ponder at night as I lay awake wondering "why did I say that today" or "why didn't I say this". I had idea's about being better tomorrow and better the next day and a better parent to my son.
. . . .
She has this big idea that the lives of children can be joyous and hopeful and that's a remarkable thing. That it extends beyond her own children and reaches out to all of ours, just like that, just that easily if we care to listen is real, true unschooling help.

Deb L


[H]er clear, concise, very uncompromising beliefs in unschooling have changed my and my children's lives forever. I love that she'll tell me straight forward what she thinks, not what she thinks I want to hear. It's a rare quality in this world, and one I value greatly.

Ren


Public criticism, and a response (from AlwaysLearning, 2/24/08):
I do not missunderstand your intentions Sandra, they are good but sometimes you do turn people off. So you are actually doing their children no good. Just a thought...

Anyways you are not a missionary and I agree, if I dont want to be here I dont need to be. That was not my point, I know how to get myself off. However it might not hurt you to consider some of your actions and how they make people feel; it feels like a devastating personal affront- and some parents might give up unschooling altogether.

Sandra's bluntness is what got me beyond the 'learning' part of unschooling and really focusing on being nicer to my kids and having the unschooling principles spill over into all aspects of my life.

I've been reading her stuff since the AOL days, when my kids were babies. There were times I thought she was totally nuts, that I'd NEVER do that with my kids (ie not require chores, for example). However, I refrained from telling her why *I* thought chores were important (teach kids responsibility, they're part of the family so they should help out, basically beliefs instilled in my by my parents). But I kept reading even though I disagreed.

Heck, once I think she even ticked me off (not personally, but said something to someone whose ideas I agreed with). I thought about her post for days. Weeks. MONTHS. And then, AHA!!! I got it!!

Over time, it all started to make sense. She wasn't crazy <grin>, and her ideas (and Pam's, & Joyce's and others) really started to make total sense. It was a gradual process, but one I'm glad I understood while my kids were still little.

If Sandra wasn't so direct, it might have taken me far longer to totally 'get it.'


Sandra, I thought about you this morning as I was brushing my teeth, trying not to be so loud as to wake the two youngest kids, who still co-sleep. At one time I was on a list that you're on and you mentioned that, because you placed a value on sleep, your house had a rule about no loud noises, such as vacuuming, before noon. For some reason that stuck in my head, probably because I need to live on a routine/schedule so that my body is happy, but I'm daily consciously striving to not arbitrarily regulate my family's lives as much I need mine to be. We are extremely busy and active, with four kids ranging from 14 to 3, so most of the day someone is needing to go somewhere, but this morning we had nowhere to go, so I was able to just let them get the sleep their little bodies needed, even though it was waaaaay later than *I* thought necessary. I looked around and thought, "Oh, man, all I need to do is vacuum the entire downstairs and the house will be at least visually tidy, but the boys are sleeping..." and then I thought of you and made peace with the thought that it would be much better for them to remain healthy than for me to vacuum at that moment. When they did wake up, we had a huge tickle fight before breakfast, which was infinitely better than them waking crankily to the sound of the vacuum. So...thanks!

I'm grateful for you, Sandra. I don't think that I could have enjoyed my kids, my family, my life, as much without reading your posts here and other places over the years. I would have freaked a few years back when my daughter told me she wanted me to go with her to talk to a doc about The Pill, freaked when Owen decided his bedtime is 4:00AM, freaked when Jesse played Guitar Hero for hours at a time. I didn't actually need a bracelet, but asked myself, "WWSD ?" until it started to come more naturally to me. :)Thank you.

This one came to me third hand, from someone in California, who got it from someone in New York, who wasn't the author:

I love Sandra Dodd's site, too. Also Joyce Fetterol's: http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/. She has a lot of stuff about not restricting tv, etc. It has improved my relationship with my children incredibly to remove parent imposed restrictions on games and videos. As the only real lasting influence I feel I can have on any other person is through a good relationship- this is totally key to my parenting. In addition, I believe real learning can be found everywhere. And yes, my children do do other things!!