The quotes below are mostly excerpted from e-mail, or paper mail (thank you notes) and a few were more public.
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!!!
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.
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!
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.
"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
(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:)
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!
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,
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 :-)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks so much ,
You are a breath of fresh air !
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!
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.
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.
[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.
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...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!!