Who can Unschool?

page 18 of The Big Book of Unschooling (either edition)
online chat, September 21, 2011

Three less daunting resources first:

There is a podcast that Amy Childs created called "Who can Unschool? only 14 minutes and some long. There is a player, and a transcript, if you click here.

If the information on this page seems daunting, read Pam Sorooshian's article on Lazy Parents. It will cheer you up.

A newer page on my site, Who can Unschool? (Because the question does come up from time to time...)

Chat transcript–many voices with good ideas to boost success.

For Wednesday September 21, The topic "Who can Unschool?" from page 18 of The Big Book of Unschooling. What traits and "intelligences" help? Not everyone can unschool, and some of that can be predicted or foreseen.

Sandra Dodd: In order for parents to unschool, they need to become unschooling parents.

Sandra Dodd: Saying "we're unschoolers now" isn't enough.

Sandra Dodd: There are changes that need to take place.

Sandra Dodd: That's pretty much the topic.

Sandra Dodd: What kinds of people can make those changes? What changes?

Sandra Dodd: What kinds of people can't make those changes? What traits are fatal to the success of unschooling?

Alex P: That list is great Sandra. The list on that page.

Sandra Dodd: You don't have to have the book, but if you don't, let the chat go without jumping in too much. πŸ™‚ Jumping in a little is fine.

Sandra Dodd: Fifteen years ago, the common way to describe unschooling was "anybody can unschool."

Even then, when I would hear that, I would feel uncomfortable, because some people can't even get along with their family for one day. Some people aren't creative or interested/interesting.

And over the years I saw who gets it and who doesn't, and saw lots of patterns.

They also used to say there were no experts on unschooling, and that every mom was an expert on her own children.

One by one I saw even the moms who used to say that (who had, at the time, kind of set themselves up as experts by saying "there are no experts" and not letting anyone say "but what about...")

... one at a time they got divorced, or stopped unschooling, or it turned out their kids were really unhappy at home and went to school.

I think more people were harmed than helped by that assurance that there was nothing to it, that unschooling was just no big deal and anyone could do it.

Alex P: What was it about them that caused all that Sandra?

Sandra Dodd: Alex, I think it was cocky cynicism. They knew how to criticize things, but not how to improve things.

When people are very cynical, they seem to think that if all the things they think are stupid are eliminated, what's left will be non-stupid. Smartness. Cleverness. Art. Good music. But once so many things are eliminated, what's left is a cynical person who has rejected half the world, and has the memories of all the details of that negativity.

I'm going to list everything that's on there, probably, but starting at the bottom, it says "These qualities, steeped in some unschooling success, can produce: joy, improved relationships, trust and confidence.

Alex P: When I first found unschooling I used to think anyone could do it too but as I learned and understood it more and more I see that unschooling is just not something many people can really understand and do it well,

Sandra Dodd: How about I list the traits or learned skills and then go through them?

Marta BP: Ok, Sandra

Sandra Dodd: The list on page 18 of the book is

Sandra Dodd: (wait... the intro, to becoming unschooling parents)

Sandra Dodd: It will involve them recovering from being school kids or the parents of school kids, or both.

Sandra Dodd: Someone who cannot change cannot unschool.

Alex P: or is not open to change.

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling needs parents to be

Sandra Dodd: available

Sandra Dodd: curious

Sandra Dodd: playful

Sandra Dodd: thoughtful

Sandra Dodd: attentive

Sandra Dodd: resourceful

Sandra Dodd: eager to make children's lives happy

Sandra Dodd: passionate and COMpassionate

Sandra Dodd: generous

Sandra Dodd: calm (sometimes, not always)

Sandra Dodd: lively (even calm people can be lively)

Sandra Dodd: positive

Sandra Dodd: kind

Sandra Dodd: gentle

Sandra Dodd: That set of attributes doesn't come all of a sudden. Some people have a head start on it.

Sandra Dodd: But anyone who looks at those things and thinks there are some that could be disregarded or bypassed should not be an unschooler.

ashade: oh yeah! loving it!

Sandra Dodd: Doing it?

Sandra Dodd: πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: People have said in the past "You can't tell me I can't unschool."

Sandra Dodd: No, but I've seen people fail, and I can tell when a jeep is headed toward a cliff, if I'm in an area more familiar to me than to the driver. And unschooling has become a very familiar area to me. πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: Okay, I'm done. You guys write a while. I'm going to get some food.

Serah: So what happens when unschooling fails. what does it look like?

Alex P: I agree. Even my sister, an intelligent person who has many of the characteristics above was not doing really great.

Marta BP: What was she missing Alex?

Alex P: More connection, more availability, more attentiveness,

ashade: well i totally agree with Sandra...an unschooling parent must include ALL the attributes as a set! or it is incomplete...not whole

Alex P: being with the child is not the same as being attentive to all her needs and willing to make sure those needs are met.

Robin Bentley: As Sandra said, though, some people don't start out with that complete list. It can take work to overcome some tendencies.

Rebecca Allen: And recognizing that some areas need some work!

Robin Bentley: Yes, Rebecca. I might add self-examination to the list!

ashade: yes being mindful of what is and isn't would be important

Rebecca Allen: I find it interesting that Sandra left off trust in natural learning or something like that.

ashade: would u say the list is trusting in natural learning

Robin Bentley: Well, let's ask her when she comes back with food!

Sandra Dodd: I think trusting natural learning happens after they see natural learning happen. You can't trust what you haven't seen. You might trust a person's word that something happened, but it's not the same as personal knowledge.

Sandra Dodd: Failure of unschooling looks like school, usually.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes, though, it looks like sighing, ennui, and blame; eye-rolling and criticism back and forth between parents and kids.

Serah: so does that never happen in unschooling families?

Alex P: Robin I agree with adding to your list but the person needs to be aware and willing to change. I think my sister just really never fully understood, there was a point she stopped trying to understand unschooling more deeply and she got stuck there.

Sandra Dodd: Pam Sorooshian wrote this on Always Learning yesterday: "I imagine that I'm taking my family's "happiness" temperature -- and trying to make decisions that make it go up, not down, as much as possible. Happiness is highly underrated as a way of gauging "results," I think. "

Sandra Dodd: Serah, rephrase your question. It sounded more like an insult than an honest question.

Serah: oops sorry, not intended... um

Alex P: what about confidence Sandra. Does confident people do better than people who are not confident?

Sandra Dodd: Yes, but someone can gain confidence, with unschooling. And it's possible for someone to be overconfident, and think they're immune to the need to deschool.

ashade: i feel u build confidence with mastery

Sandra Dodd: People with the kind of confidence that comes from self-knowledge, strength of will, and a proven record of having been competent do well.

Alex P: Does deschooling for the parents even end while the kids are growing?

Sandra Dodd: I think there are sometimes (depending on the parent's experiences as a child) times when the ghosts of the past can pop up and say boo.

Serah: is it possible to not unschool and still have a decent loving relationship with your kids?

Sandra Dodd: Serah, of course it is.

Serah: and by unschooling does that guarantee sweet, happy, kids?

Sandra Dodd: But I'm not spending my volunteer time looking for exceptions to unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: It takes many hours a day to keep up with the questions and new writings about unschooling itself.

Alex P: that is how it is with me, but luckily for me I can now stop and think and ponder and read wise words and feel confident again.

Sandra Dodd: "Guarantee" means someone else will buy back the bad results. No one can "guarantee" anything having to do with the longterm life of another person.

Serah: true, but the chances are better, right?

Sandra Dodd: Your first question was whether unschoolers don't sometimes roll their eyes, suffer boredom, and end up back in school.

Serah: yes

Sandra Dodd: Now you're asking whether the worst unschooler is happier than the best school kid.

Sandra Dodd: Your questions are extreme and antagonistic.

Serah: ok, again, not really intended, guess my wording is off.

Sandra Dodd: No, I think your wording is honestly reflecting your attitude.

Sandra Dodd: And that's okay, I just want to point it out. πŸ™‚

Serah: which is? confusion and unclarity

Sandra Dodd: As the chat is to discuss the book, those without copies of the book are welcome but should let the microphone (writing space) go to those who have read it, and who can discuss from experience how it works.

Sandra Dodd: Serah, you can ask questions without being extreme and antagonistic.

Sandra Dodd: (theoretically πŸ™‚)

Serah: ok thanks

Alex P: If someone lives and grows up in a happy, secure environment, with love, having their needs met emotionally , physically and intellectually. If they feel that love and supported that would be good period. A happy childhood lasts forever (I have said that once)

Sandra Dodd: And it's likely that you can learn by just reading without challenging, today.

ashade: well i dont have the book...only experience in unschooling...both of my almost adult children

Sandra Dodd: If a family lives with boredom, the mom needs to create a more interesting home.

Sandra Dodd: If the mom is blaming the child for not being more interesting or interested, that doesn't help unschooling to thrive.

Alex P: My mom had most of those qualities that Sandra pointed out. She made some mistakes and we have talked about it . But just being like she was made me have a great childhood.

ashade: and not for nearly as long as others have but with very positive results so far

Sandra Dodd: If the mom and child are rolling their eyes at each other, displaying disdain and hostility, then they HAVE disdain and hostility. Those don't co-exist well with joy.

Serah: really, it is not my intention to challenge. I can see the results of happier kids by the changes we have made since learning about unschooling. Sometimes there are moments when I am not happy and accommodating and this affects the energy in the home. I just want to know if this will hinder my ability to provide adequately for my kids.

Alex P: Serah you can change that. You can be happier .

Robin Bentley: Serah, I used to compare my child to some other unschooled kids and think to myself "why isn't she sweet and happy and cooperative and quiet like those kids?" I asked myself that both from the standpoint of "what's wrong with her" (a mistake) and "what's wrong with me?" (helpful). When I looked at her directly and figured out what I needed to do better, things went better.

Sandra Dodd: (quoting from earlier:)

Sandra: Failure of unschooling looks like school, usually. Sometimes, though, it looks like sighing, ennui, and blame; eye-rolling and criticism back and forth between parents and kids.

Serah: so does that never happen in unschooling families?

Sandra Dodd: "Never" means "not even a little."

Something can happen occasionally and be seen as unusual, as wrong-in-context.

Holly has rolled her eyes at me maybe four or five times. She's nearly 20.

I've been around families where even with me there, even with company, there are eye-rolls back and forth four or five times an hour.

Alex P: Gigi has told me she hated me this week because of something I had no control over. But then a few minutes later she told me she loves me.

Serah: hmm I see

Sandra Dodd: If there is more resentment and negativity than there is love and sweetness, that family is not succeeding at unschooling, in my opinion. It's not about "always" or "never." It's about preponderance.

laura zurro: Sandra, can you explain what you mean by calm?

Robin Bentley: Knowing my child and what she needed for a happy life was better than comparisons.

Sandra Dodd: Calm is calm. Not frantic, not excited, not frightened or frightening. Calm, like water that is neither frozen nor choppy.

Sandra Dodd: Calm is possessing the ability to think, to consider a situation without panic.

Robin Bentley: Laura, for me it was keeping my head and being a calming force when Senna was panicking.

Rebecca Allen: Yes, Robin! I also find it's better to not get into thinking "why isn't this easier?!" It's better to think about how it could improve.

Sandra Dodd: Calm is not perpetually on the edge of flipping out.

Robin Bentley: That wasn't always easy. I can panic also.

Serah: same

Alex P: Laura I take it is when parents can remain calm under stress. I had to work on that sometimes. MY oldest used to have huge tamtrums and I would loose my calm. When I learned to remain calm I was much more helpful to him

Robin Bentley: Yes. Good point, Alex.

Serah: what are ways to remain calm

laura zurro: thank you Robin because I definitely struggle with being calm but have made lots of progress with Caitlyn but working on the other parts of my life

Robin Bentley: My freaking out did not help her freaking out!

Sandra Dodd: What happened here was that we took turns being calm, when necessary. πŸ™‚

Robin Bentley: As Sandra says "Breathe!"

laura zurro: but most of you have older kids so has that changed since they were younger?

Sandra Dodd: Everyone knows what it looks like, and is able to induce it, so if one is flipping out, others can "calm" themselves to be the steady, sturdy point.

Serah: yes, breathing really helps.

laura zurro: okay thanks

Sandra Dodd: SandraDodd.com/breathing

Serah: but mostly when my boys are fighting i find it very hard to remain calm

Sandra Dodd: Let's go through the list.

Sandra Dodd: Available. Not just physically

Alex P: Laura of course it changes. But I am better at staying calm too.

Alex P: I still sometimes have to get Brian's help to take over. He can be awesome at it and sometimes the kids can be more open to him than me.

Sandra Dodd: Serah, if they're fighting, get your adrenaline up and stop the fight, but then breathe before you use your adrenaline to hurt them both, physically or emotionally

ColleenP: I find if I stay calm, my son will express his frustrations (with a tantrum, angry words, etc.) and then move on - if I get upset, he will usually spiral and stay angry/frustrated for much longer. I try to see it as one of my "jobs" to be the sounding board for his frustrations.

Sandra Dodd: Parents don't need to be calm 24 hours a day, but they can't say "Yeah, I'm not a calm person, and I have no idea what that means, but I'm going to unschool anyway."

Sandra Dodd: Schuyler talks about having ignored that "breathe" advice for a long time, thinking it wasn't all that important.

Sandra Dodd: (Pam Sorooshian's last holdout was chores, not trying to make her girls clean the house)

Alex P: I am going to have to step out and drive in the pasture to go check a cow that is about to have a baby for Brian ( who is on the road with Gigi getting cows to an invitro facility) so I will be back in a few minutes, unless she is calving!!

Sandra Dodd: Bye, Alex!

Sandra Dodd: So that's calm. πŸ™‚ How about "available"?

Robin Bentley: Ah, the life of a dairy farmer!

Sandra Dodd: Some parents can be unavailable even when they're in the room, because they're on the phone or writing or have headphones on...

Sandra Dodd: Or they're having a surface relationship with a child.

Robin Bentley: I tend to be a dreamer and I work on being mentally present for Senna when she's talking about something important to her.

Sandra Dodd: Using the poodle voice, only saying stock phrases.

Sandra Dodd: I've seen parents say "oh, I LOVE your PICture!" the same way I imagine teacher's aides would, while thinking about their evening's activities and how little money they make as teachers' assistants.

Robin Bentley: I just stole a look at her while we're both on our computers. I just like to gaze at her sometimes πŸ™‚

ashade: I try to participate in the conversation I am presented with

Sandra Dodd: I'm reading that, Ashade, but I don't understand it.

laura zurro: I know I struggle with the available part because that is what was modeled for me as a child - my mom would turn off her hearing aid and read to avoid my alcoholic dad. It's a bit more challenging lately because Caitlyn has hit the "why" about everything stae

ashade: i think participation is a big part of availability...does that make sense...

Sandra Dodd: If your friend comes over and is talking about something you don't understand or think is gross, do you participate in that conversation because you were presented with it, and then stand waiting for another presentation of conversation?

ColleenP: to me available also means being ready to jump into play, and not just observe my son playing - he loves when I play too πŸ™‚

Robin Bentley: Oh, what an opportunity, Laura!

Sandra Dodd: Good point, Colleen.

Sandra Dodd: I loved the "why" stage, and I miss it. Holly only wants short answers now.

Robin Bentley: Participate, not just observe.

ashade: i try to be available if i am asked to listen, play, talk, read, research, help, etc.

Sandra Dodd: Okay, that makes more sense.

Sandra Dodd: Conversations with my kids are not "presented" by them, they're pretty mutual.

ColleenP: sometimes at night when Robbie is sleeping I'll set up a play-scene with his Pokemon or Lego figures so he'll discover it when he comes downstairs in the morning - it always makes him smile - and he'll jump right in ready to play right away!

Sandra Dodd: Awareness that there are lots of unknown things, and gratitude that the answers can be discovered.

Sandra Dodd: How sweet, Colleen.

Sandra Dodd: I used to add an odd thing sometimes, but didn't think of a whole scene.

Sandra Dodd: I'd stick something in there with them. I got that idea from one time when Kirby was little and one of the Ninja Turtles was in the creche scene, worshipping Jesus in the manger.

Robin Bentley: πŸ™‚

ColleenP: it cracked him up the first time I did it - he said "I didn't know you played with my Pokemon even at night!!" LOL

Sandra Dodd: Here's why: One of the shepherds had a long staff, and Kirby had taken him to go help the Turtles fight the Foot Clan.

ashade: lol colleen

ashade: omgosh..i love it Sandra!

Sandra Dodd: Curious. Parents need to be curious. There's a bit of humility in curiosity. Lots of parents will say "I don't know" when a kid asks a question.

Rebecca Allen: It's okay to admit you don't know, but it should not end there.

Sandra Dodd: I think that's admirable, if the parent really doesn't know, but only admirable if it's followed up with a curiosity about whether the child knows, or wants to know, or a recommendation about who might know (or google)

ColleenP: both my husband and I have practiced saying "I don't know - let's find out!" enough that it comes naturally now

ashade: ohh wow...we try to go look up the answer or research it awhile

ashade: yes i agree...we will try to find someone who would know the answer then we end up on a whirlwind of info on many things....connections

Sandra Dodd: Recently Holly and I were in the van on the way to Best Buy. We listen to an oldies station a lot of times, and "Silence is Golden" came on. I said something about The Four Seasons, and Holly said it wasn't The Four Seasons.

ashade: sometimes completing what we intended to find out and sometimes just a beginning to lots of other things

Sandra Dodd: I was shocked, because she is a big Frankie Valli fan, and thought she should know.

laura zurro: I've had two people tell me over the past two weeks about what a great answer I just gave Caitlyn - it requires thought to respond with a real answer

Sandra Dodd: But she said it was the Tremeloes.

Sandra Dodd: I do have a kid who knows a lot about 1960's music.

Sandra Dodd: I said, "The TREMELOES!? It's the Four Seasons.

ashade: lol Sandra!!

Sandra Dodd: But I thought... this isn't the recording I was familiar with, when it was ending, and I know the Four Seasons' recording ending really well.

Sandra Dodd: So we get in the store, and we're in line at customer service (her DVD player died), and there next to us is an iPad display. πŸ™‚

laura zurro: I was answering a question about why a story was a certain way and I explained because an author chose to make their story that way and choose the characters etc and this young woman said "wow that's the coolest answer and my parents would have never said that"

Sandra Dodd: So she looks it up. And yes, it was recorded by The Tremeloe's too, but she hadn't known they got it from The Four Seasons.

Sandra Dodd: I was just thinking that, Laura. It wasn't like my mom would've handled it.

ashade: wow that's neat!! how fun!

Sandra Dodd: I thought it was cool that we were both right, and my mom would have been really pissed off if I had proven her wrong, or even half wrong.

ashade: we encounter that lot's here as well! soo neat!

Sandra Dodd: So maybe that can count for present, calm and curious all. πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: Playful.

Sandra Dodd: I love Colleen's examples. Those are curious and playful and available.

Robin Bentley: Forgiving, too (though it's not on the list).

Sandra Dodd: Accepting, Robin.

ColleenP: πŸ™‚

Robin Bentley: Yes, that's it.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe comes under compassionate

Robin Bentley: Right.

Sandra Dodd: Playful can be just smiling at something you would ordinarily avoid, or that you wouldn't have chosen.

Rebecca Allen: Accepting, as in not taking things personally, goes a long way towards calm.

Robin Bentley: Colleen, I'm going to do that for Senna tonight. I'll set up her stuffed Pokemon for her to discover in the morning. I don't do it as often, now that she's older. It's a good reminder.

Sandra Dodd: When I'm making dinner sometimes there are conversations and requests and needs around me, and as my kids get older, it's not unusual that one bails before dinner's done, or invites someone else over. I could be inflexible or emotional about it, or I could just roll with it, and see the lively playfulness in a life like this.

ashade: can it be making light of...or just plain fun!

ColleenP: Robin - awesome - I hope she loves it!

Sandra Dodd: Right. Not making fun OF someone, or playing in a mean way. Living lightly, without such attachment to outcomes or the way I envisioned dinner would go.

Robin Bentley: Sandra, that's so important - that flexibility.

ashade: or adaptability?!

Sandra Dodd: Acceptance. πŸ™‚

Robin Bentley: And the opposite of rigidity.

ColleenP: "without attachment to outcomes" - I think that's one of the most important pieces to unschooling in general (and to happiness in general!!)

Jennie: Yes Colleen, I agree

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, I used to hope Kirby would be a counsellor, a therapist, because he's really talented at that. He was describing what he does at work the other day. He's a senior on his team, so he's the counsellor, basically--to inspire 22 or so people, to coach them, and hear their concerns.

Sandra Dodd: AND... if someone in the game is reported as being potentially suicidal, Kirby goes in and talks to the character in the game, to the person, to see if he's okay. They know symptoms--like someone giving away all their stuff, or playing recklessly, or expressing dismay.

ashade: very nice Sandra!

Sandra Dodd: My vision was that he might go to college and study psychology. πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: So I did see his ability and willingness to do that.

ashade: that is what Ashley is attempting to do now ..to work with children

Sandra Dodd: But my schooly-brains thought it meant "study psychology," without thinking of alternatives.

Sandra Dodd: Parents needing to be thoughtful seems obvious, maybe, but some parents want to act like unschoolers act without understanding they why beneath the what.

ColleenP: Sandra that's awesome re Kirby!

ColleenP: Robbie's dream right now is to have an ice cream shop. People ask me "don't you want him to go to college?" but I figure if he needs a degree one day, he'll go after one, ice cream shop or no πŸ™‚

ashade: she is currently learning lots by being a live in nanny for a family with two small children

Robin Bentley: Sandra, Kirby's doing real-life counseling in a virtual world. I like that!

laura zurro: it's interesting how people still think that you need to go to college to be successful. my experience has been that there are so many more who have gone to college and not followed their dreams means you'll

Robin Bentley: It doesn't surprise me, thinking of what he did leading up to that job.

Sandra Dodd: It's interesting. There's a level above that, though. If the kid's friends are really scared and if the kid isn't online, or admits to being suicidal and goes offline, Kirby reports it to HIS boss, who will either call the house or call the police.

Robin Bentley: You don't hear about that when someone starts slamming MMORPG's do you?

ColleenP: that's what happens in the "non virtual" world though I think, when things are working correctly - if someone truly appears to be a danger to himself or others, even a degreed therapist calls in reinforcements (police, hospitals)

ashade: well i dont think i have made college taboo for my kids..its a choice as is everything else for them to do..whatever interests them

Rebecca Allen: Yes, Colleen. It's not virtual. Those are real people behind the characters.

Sandra Dodd: Kirby had shown me a web article that listed Blizzard as one of the best suicide prevention (somethings) but I'm not finding it now

Robin Bentley: Oh, I'd like it if you find it, Sandra.

Sandra Dodd: There are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of unemployed college graduates and college graduates working in jobs for which they did not need that degree

Sandra Dodd: Right, Colleen. It's the "danger to himself or others" rule of thumb.

Robin Bentley: And yet more companies are making college degrees a condition for employment (which has changed from say 20-30 years ago).

ashade: adrienne has been interested in dogs for most of her 16 yrs of life ...she has learned lots so far without college and has used her knowledge to further her in many areas: our vets office, animal shelters, dog shows...

ChrisSanders: I think that people who won't or can't normally have good face-to-face relationships, can get some social needs met on MMORPG's. I know that my brother's psychiatrist was pleased with the level of interaction John was having after we got him playing WoW.

Sandra Dodd: Yes.

Robin Bentley: It helps a lot Chris. Senna's learned so much about how to treat people from her on-line relationships.

Robin Bentley: And game playing.

Sandra Dodd: There are lots of dog-related jobs. This morning on one of the morning shows, they were talking about trainers in NYC who train dogs to behave well enough that the families can be accepted into co-op housing. To behave well on the elevator, and not to bark just because someone passes by the front door of the apartment.

Sandra Dodd: That's pretty specialized. πŸ™‚

ashade: she has decided to become certified as a veterinary assistant and put her $$ she earned dog sitting toward a course online...she asked if i would help her sign up

Sandra Dodd: Kelly Lovejoy used to groom and show dogs, and recommends poop-scooping to kids too young for real jobs. Lots of people pay to have someone pick up after their dog.

Robin Bentley: If one can stand to do it .

Sandra Dodd: That sounds cool, Ashade.

Sandra Dodd: I could do it all day, with vinyl gloves. πŸ™‚

ashade: yeah she has done that too.. lol...and she is now designing a dog park for our area

ColleenP: I think college degrees can serve to open doors that are otherwise more difficult (but not impossible) to open - the degree might get you in the door but you still need to get the job πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: College can be fantastic if money is no object and the kid wants to go.

Sandra Dodd: There are TONS of advantages to college besides the degree itself, but for parents to channel all kids toward that isn't the best way to be, even if the kids are all in regular school.

Robin Bentley: There are so many other avenues.

Sandra Dodd: Pam Sorooshian's girls will all have degrees. Their dad can't see any other way, and they're into it, and they're in California where they can (still, for a while) go very inexpensively.

Sandra Dodd: Thoughtful and Attentive. Those two can go together.

Sandra Dodd: Resourceful. Parents being resourceful.

ashade: well she learned soo much from being resourceful in books and online that she went to shadow at our vet's office they were shocked at what she knew without being a certified assistant...lol

AlexPolikowsky: Hey my phone does the chat ! I am in the pasture with my son and the cow is calving! Head is out. We already saved a cow that was in a bad position and could not get up

ColleenP: college for me was where I went to learn how to think, as my public school years taught me how to "parrot back" and please the teacher - I remember total culture shock when I realized college expected me to have my own thoughts!!

Robin Bentley: Cool, Alex!

Marta BP: cool Alex πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: OMG, a live birth on the unschooling chat!

Rebecca Allen: That's some serious multi-tasking, Alex!

ColleenP: oh goodness - Alex - that's super cool! (the live birth on chat, not the cow being in a bad position)

AlexPolikowsky: Is almost put I think I am going to lend a hand as she is mooing

Serah joined the chat

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, my kids don't know how to parrot back. I'm afraid that's what they would learn in college. πŸ™‚

ashade: ooohh I love unschooling!!! πŸ™‚)

Sandra Dodd: Marty's taking Eastern Religions and Macroeconomics.

ColleenP: LOL Sandra - depends on the college I suppose πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: He doesn't like to stand out in class.

Robin Bentley: Interesting combo, Sandra!

Sandra Dodd: When he tells me about discussions and I ask 'Did you say..." whatever, I know about his personal knowledge, he says, "No..." and kind of shakes his head at me, because he wants to just be there, kind of invisible.

Sandra Dodd: He could sparkle and shine in there, but he's not.

Sandra Dodd: Compared to their life up to the point that they took classes, Kirby and Marty didn't need college to help them learn to think as individuals, is what I mean.

ashade: adrienne is the same way....she watched some surgeries in the vet office and did not speak up about things she knew about what she saw...

Sandra Dodd: So what are we up to? Resourcefulness.

Sandra Dodd: Unschooling parents need to learn to be resourceful.

AlexPolikowsky: It is a boy

Sandra Dodd: Often when I talk about strewing, people will put it into practice with books.

Sandra Dodd: Kid expresses an interest, a book shows up on the coffee table. That's about the last thing I meant

Sandra Dodd: Strewing should be in advance of any question, just a conversation starter, or thought-inducer. πŸ™‚

AlexPolikowsky: Will post pics later on facebook

The photo Alex sent right after the chat:

ashade: oh and she was funny. She came home and said she even asked a question one day that she already knew the answer to..to see what answer they would give..lol

Sandra Dodd: Alex, it's a baby bull or future gelding? (What a cow-version of gelding?0

Sandra Dodd: ("Cow version of gelding..." what a dopey non-rancher I am.)

Robin Bentley: Steer

Sandra Dodd: Thanks, Robin.

ColleenP: as a book lover, it took me a long time to be able to say "my son doesn't like books" - but he really doesn't - loves the computer and just doesn't enjoy reading (or finding info) from a book at all

Robin Bentley: I think, anyway!

Sandra Dodd: I was book-hungry as a kid, and loved books, so as I got older I got lots, and more, and too many.

laura zurro: the funny thing I learned how to parrot back and still struggle with thinking independently. Even almost completing a grad degree didn't help and I can't tell you ladies how many time I feel rather stupid when I see the intelligent conversations that occur

Jennie: Being resourceful comes naturally to me. I like to look around for stuff to do and places to go that the kids might like. Not being bummed when they say "no" is something I'm working on.

Sandra Dodd: My kids never really loved books, certainly didn't find the need to collect any.

ColleenP: in a house full of books, he reads online - but doesn't like reading from paper

ColleenP: sometimes, but not often

Sandra Dodd: So however we are as individuals, with independent thought and love of books, we can provide what our kids prefer and not be cranky if they're not like us!

laura zurro: however resourcefulness comes easy to me.

ashade: that is me too Sandra-with books...my husband says we will have to put in more supports for the floor if I collect many more books

Sandra Dodd: Resources can include other people, places, things... websites.

Jennie: lots of parents think that it reflects well on them if their kid loves to read, reflects poorly if they do not

ashade: we use everything for resources...even trips!

laura zurro: I think that is one of the things that means so much to me with unschooling is the ability for Caitlyn to learn to think independently

Marta BP: Sandra, you said we can learn to be resourceful. How can we do that?

Sandra Dodd: Gradually Marta!

ashade: yes laura I love that too!

Sandra Dodd: By seeing it as part of your unschooling duty to find things your children can learn from.

Sandra Dodd: And a variety of things, not just books, not just google.

Marta BP: Ok, I get it.

Sandra Dodd: SandraDodd.com/checklists

Sandra Dodd: Each success builds confidence, and makes it easier to have future success.

Sandra Dodd: Each time you think of something to help them with what they're doing, needing, learning, you become more confident.

ashade: i love animals but not to the extent that adrienne does...so i had to look lots of places with her by my side to open lots of paths for her to explore or choose from

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes resources are supplies.

Sandra Dodd: Cages. πŸ™‚

ashade: yesss cages for us was a big one!

ashade: literally...lol

[Some side conversation about staying on topic was deleted.]

Rebecca Allen: A calf birth was a pretty cool addition.

Sandra Dodd: Yes. You barely missed, Lyla, that Alex left the chat to go where a cow was birthing. It was the head out, and then "it's a boy"

ashade: adrienne is starting a rabbitry also...so we had to be resourseful in finding a way to come by lo9ts of them for her to build her rabbitry

Sandra Dodd: Nearly two hours reminds me... We have some things still on the list.

Sandra Dodd: Eager to make children's lives happy. The Pam Sorooshian quote is good.

ashade: i agree!

ashade: happy temperatures!

Sandra Dodd: I imagine that I'm taking my family's "happiness" temperature -- and trying to make decisions that make it go up, not down, as much as possible. Happiness is highly underrated as a way of gauging "results," I think. (Pam Sorooshian)

Sandra Dodd: Abraham Maslow said for children to learn they need to feel safe, and have their physical needs met.

Lylawolf: i loved that quote. and taking the parental temperature on "eagerness" to make children's lives happy might be a good way to guage one's ability to unschool....

Sandra Dodd: So parents need to help them feel safe and happy, or learning can't happen.

Sandra Dodd: Passionate and compassionate.

Sandra Dodd: One needs to LOVE their children, and their children's lives, and to really care about unschooling.

Robin Bentley: I've mentioned this before, but I used to take Senna to every field trip that I thought was "good for her" or she might like. She was too young to be there happily and it took me awhile to realize that. She was happier being at home and is still a homebody except for what she wants to get out and do.

Sandra Dodd: If unschooling is one of several things in the background, they probably won't have an unschooling life so much as they will occasionally remember to try again to unschool, kind of.

Sandra Dodd: I agree, Lyla. It's a good one.

Sandra Dodd: Generous.

Robin Bentley: Unschooling is the fabric of our lives.

Sandra Dodd: Everything above this point can come under generosity.

Sandra Dodd: Generous with availability, playfulness, thought, resources, attention.

Lylawolf: "really care about unschooling" is huge. i think that's the one that falls by the wayside for many, often. when it's a priority, then it can work, in the face of all kinds of other challenges

Sandra Dodd: But generous with space, and money, and the best bite, and the last cookie. When it's a priority, it can make the whole rest of one's life better.

ashade: ohh i agree!

Sandra Dodd: When it's not, it can fail to thrive, and then you have dried up attempted unschooling, and that's yucky. πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: We talked about calm earlier.

ColleenP: reminds me of air conditioning - when I was little, my parents had an air conditioner in their room, and I was hot in summer. Now if we only have one air conditioner, it goes in my son's room. His comfort is my priority - not my own comfort.

Sandra Dodd: Lively. Vivacious. Full of life. Active.

Sandra Dodd: Alive.

Sandra Dodd: Not dull, slow, dead, dull.

Sandra Dodd: Positive!

Sandra Dodd: Up, hopeful, curious, lively, attentive, thoughtful, passionate... πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: Kind. Not hateful. Not entrapping kids to fail. Helpful.

Sandra Dodd: Compassionate.

ashade: wow....nice!

Sandra Dodd: These could be put on a board with nails, and colored strings strung between the related ones to make a big, beautiful design.

Sandra Dodd: Positive is not being cynical and not being pessimistic and not taking pride in being dark and pissy.

ashade: ohh yes they could!!

Marta BP: That's a great idea Sandra!!! πŸ™‚

Robin Bentley: Or on a computerized mind map.

Sandra Dodd: Or in the thought of a moment during a chat.

Sandra Dodd: One is left. Gentle.
Gentle with infants.
Gentle with toddlers.
Gentle with little girls. Gentle with little boys
Gentle with stinky 12 year old boys.
Gentle with pubescent girls.
Gentle with teenagers.
Gentle with young adults.
Gentle with oneself, and one's spouse or partner or friends and relatives.
But strong.
And sure.
Passionate, but not a bully.

Marta BP: Yes πŸ™‚

ashade: non judgmental!

Robin Bentley: I'm feeling all weepy, Sandra. All the gentle-ness.

Sandra Dodd: And the possible results of all that, according to page 18 of The Big Book: Joy, improved relationships, trust and confidence, not just for the mom, but for each member of the family and for the family as a whole.

Sandra Dodd: Thanks for being here. People can stay and talk if you want to. I'll be here for a while.

Marta BP: I can already see that happening with my family and our dd is only 2 yo! ;)

Sandra Dodd: Next week, page 19, "Help" about how to help other unschoolers.

ashade: Sandra you are the bestest!! thanks for always being there even if we aren't! lol

Sandra Dodd: How to get help, how to help people get help, how to help people who ask for help....

Sandra Dodd: Thanks, ashade. πŸ™‚

Lylawolf: it's very soothing

ashade: its been a while since i have been online...

Marta BP: Yes, thank you so so so much Sandra πŸ™‚

Sandra Dodd: Marta, that's sweet, that your family is already seeing effects.

ChrisSanders: I missed a good part of the chat because I was laying down with Zoe tryng to help her relax into a nap. She stayed up until 3:00 a.m. drawing last night and then needed to get up for an art class this morning. She has two dance classes tonight and we've already found out that her new dance teacher works them VERY hard. She doesn't like to take naps but she wanted to get more rest. So I was being gentle and patient with her.

laura zurro: thanks Sandra

Sandra Dodd: Thanks, Laura, for being here.

Sandra Dodd: Nice, Chris.

ChrisSanders: I told her I'd check on her so... be right back

ChrisSanders: back - she's asleep

Sandra Dodd: Alex, did the calf stand up and nurse?

Sandra Dodd: I wanted the live cow-cam

Alex P: The mother took off and the calf is there until Brian gets home and helps me lift into the Gator

Alex P: He is a big boy and I could not lift it up with MD , too slippery

Alex P: Also the mother is Leucosis positive so her milk is tainted for the calf and this bull may make it to stud so he cannot get her milk.

Alex P: We will use donor milk for him

Sandra Dodd: You have complicated cattle realities.

Alex P: I know but it makes life interesting!

Alex P: OH and MD and I saved a cow before we delivered the baby. She was in a bad position and we got her up

Alex P: This chats have been great even when I just read them after the fact! SO I am going to start where I left of and later I will post those pictures on Facebook.

Rebecca Allen: Thanks, all! Off to help Quinn make a Princess Peach crown for her homemade Kirby doll.

I feel bad, years later, that Chris Sanders had a good story (though she showed up as we were finishing up) and it didn't get any discussion. I wish I could go back to 2011 for a while.

While I was back in 2011, I would have been more patient (and calm) with Serah, too.

Both Chris and Serah were (are, still, Serah; Chris's are grown) good unschooling moms, and I know them in person (but didn't, yet, in 2011), and I am sad to see how quickly the chat was going, and ending, but that's the way those chats were.

—Sandra, 2023

In the Big Book, that page links to: SandraDodd.com/unschooling

The Big Book of Unschooling

Directory of the Big Book Chats

Chat Transcripts on other topics

?Who Cannot Unschool?