I often wish there was radical unschooling material describing the parent/child relationship outside of a homeschooling context. We benefit so much from the trust we exercise since we started applying unschooling principles. But I only found out about this way to parent after considering homeschooling. Also, my sister in Germany has a son who suffers physically from going to school. School is mandatory there. I'd love a book about how to establish a relationship of respect and trust based on unschooling principles even when your child goes to school. Is there such? Sandra, do you feel there is need and would you write one please?

Jorie Denny


I enjoyed the book "Parenting for Social Change", the author, Teresa Graham Brett, does radically unschool her children but you don't have to in order to understand and implement the parenting ideas in her book. She discusses how children are one of the last acceptably oppressed groups in our society (Adultism) and talks about trusting your children and respecting their choices and autonomy. She also has a website. https://www.parentingforsocialchange.com

I also really enjoy Scott Noelle's website http://www.enjoyparenting.com where you can choose to sign up for his daily emails called "The Daily Groove" which include little nuggets of parenting wisdom and are always very based in unschooling principles (He is an unschooling Dad) without requiring you to be unschooling. 

Now, the closest I have found to "unschooling principles" in books (not related to homeschooling/unschooling) are ones which promote a respectful, empathy based parenting philosophy, like these:

Parenting for a Peaceful World by Robin Grille

Heart to Heart Parenting, Robin Grille

Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Mary Hartzell

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber

Siblings Without Rivalry by Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber (same as above but including sibling dynamics)

Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon

Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids (An Eckhart Tolle Edition)
by Susan Stiffleman.

Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

Peaceful Parent, Happy Child by Laura Markham

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Laura Markham (same as above but including sibling dynamics)

These would be good books to investigate further if you wanted to help someone who is not homeschooling/unschooling to make a shift in their parenting philosophy toward a relationship of trust and respect and moving away from, reward/punishment, coercion, manipulation, shaming/blaming, etc.



Sandra Dodd

Katja, thank you. That was sweet.

-=-I'd love a book about how to establish a relationship of respect and trust based on unschooling principles even when your child goes to school. Is there such? Sandra, do you feel there is need and would you write one please?-=-

I think some of the things unschoolers can do, and use, when their children are at home and have a larger array of options won’t really translate to a school-filled life. There ARE schoolish realities that can’t very well be avoided, from dress codes to homework to government oversight. Parents can be in legal trouble if they don’t support the school’s schedules and requirements.

I came across something this morning:

A quote from arcarpenter:

Sandra, do you have an essay about this? Because it's something you come back to a lot, and I think it is a good counterpoint to many parenting books. So if you had an essay, and then you put the essay in *your* book ;), then some helpful additional information would be out there, next to the "poodle voice books.” Y’know?


Joyce’s webpage has the parenting topics somewhat separate from the unschooling things, I think. Could someone look there and see if that would be useful to anyone’s German relatives? (Or Joyce…. IF you don’t think what you’ve written will help the parents of school kids, could you help me figure out what it is and why that we COULD offer?)

And for anyone here:
What translates?

Tone of voice?
Avoiding “have to”?
Making a real choices between two options?

A list of things that parents COULD benefit from might be helpful. I’m not sure what could be done with it. Perhaps there’s a book in it; not sure.


Sandra Dodd

Reading through the list by Jorie Denny of “outside” resources, some made me cringe, and my fingers twitched to object, and some I nodded at, but guess what? I don’t want to say which were which.

IF all those things were recommended to and for unschoolers, I would jump up and start sorting them into what is less likely to help, and which authors might be problematical for the success of unschooling. But the question here was NOT about unschooling.

Just sayin’. :-)


Joyce Fetteroll

> On Apr 17, 2016, at 2:48 PM, Sandra Dodd Sandra@... [AlwaysLearning] <[email protected]> wrote:
> IF you don’t think what you’ve written will help the parents of school kids

When I write I tend to run it through various mental filters. I ask myself what picture my words might paint to different points of view. Since so many beginning unschoolers are still in school mode, I run it through school filters. So I think most of what I write will be understandable to schooling parents.

The big sticking point is, as you say, school. Supporting kids in unfolding is much easier without all the things school needs from kids and parents. It's easier to weather the occasional dentist visit or wait at the department of motor vehicles when it's not every day.

One schooling mindset that gets in the way of peaceful parenting is expecting kids to treat school as important. Obviously if kids see school as important it removes a lot of conflict. Kids will see getting to school on time as important. They'll do their homework. They'll take studying seriously. A child not having a problem makes the parent's problem go away ;-)

But a parent can't make a child value something through pressure. If a parent tries, a child can cling tighter to their own view. Or can doubt their ability to judge what is good from what isn't.

I think what could help is the parent respecting both their own and their child's views. School is important *to the parent*. School is -- boring, pointless, hard, [fill in the blank] --- to the child. Then the parent takes the responsibility to deal with the child's obstacles. Find ways to make the experience as worthwhile even pleasant as possible for their child.

It's ideally how spouses would treat each other when something is important to one but not the other. If one wanted to see Star Wars opening night, a baseball game, a trip to London, but the other was unenthusiastic the relationship damaging view would be "It's important and you just need to suck it up."

The relationship building approach is, "This is important to me. How can I make it doable for you?"

Rather than the goal being to get the other person to like what you want, let the goal be resolving their objections. Get the obstacles out of their way to make it easy for them to do something they lack enthusiasm for.

The goal is to get a 10 out of 10 on a parenting poll that asks: "If I have an issue, I feel my parents are a dependable source of help."