Great Feedback on Unschooling Forum and List

"I am so glad I've hung around. It's been life changing!"
In those days, "the Forum" was at Unschooling_._com, which was, at first, very nice.

"The List" mentioned below was UnschoolingDiscussion, and you can click here to jump to that section .

Sweet commentary about the www . unschooling . com Message Board:

Patti Schmidt:
My kids might never know how much they owe their fabulous childhood to unschooling (dot) com, and that's the way it should be, but *I'll* be forever grateful!

I love unschooling. Finding it compares to the day I met and fell in love with my husband and having each of my children. It is a very beautiful presence in my life. Its influence has allowed me to be a better, happy, person. Everyone around me can benefit from that.

People find their own truth and freedom in their own ways and in their own time. If I hadn't been here for two years, I may not have been ready to face the cancer in my body. It is something I could not control or prepare myself for. Before unschooling you could say I was a fearful person on the verge of a breakdown. I kept coming here for my family, Knowing something had to change—me. It was hard. Some days I would come with everything good oozing out of me, I would read something that would trigger the need for more change. Of course I'm not a finished product, and hope to never be finished. Mostly, I just feel like the sun, shining happy rays of life on everything~ or like the moon, casting beams of dream and fancy~ or let's just say "it's a good thing". I feel that same joy coming from my children, all of them.

I consider this the most openminded and ennervating HSing board there is.

Thank you. I'm really having fun with the kids and I'm amazed at how much happier we are then we used to be when I had to control everything. I love saying yes. I'm working on saying yes to myself now too.

Today I had an unschooling moment. We had movie and tv restrictions before, and gave them up after reading here. Today, we were driving somewhere, and went down a road near where the tide comes in (we live near the Bay of Fundy), and after renting The Lizzie McGuire movie last week, and seeing the state of the tide, naturally I burst into "The tide is high..."!!--joined happily by my three daughters. Sometime after the nth rendition of that song all together, I thought, here we are doing something happily all together, and from that space, anything can happen, questions, answers, laughter, silence. Thank you Lizzie McGuire, thank you people of the unschooling . com message board, I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that....

I looked back at my post and the words "My kids haven't changed much, but I have" really jumped out at me. The truth of the matter is, my kids have changed dramatically since I found this site. I am very, very stubborn but as Dewa mentioned above this site will "blow apart preconcieved notions of raising children.:)

The 1st biggie for me was the food issue. I read, let them eat what they want & thought people had lost their minds. So, I tried it! Dakota wanted a cookie before breakfast and I said okay, but I'm cooking breakfast. She ate it (lil debbie), and turned to me and asked if she could have another one? Sure, I say (knowing good and well she wasn't gonna eat no breakfast afterwards). So she eats it, then breakfast was ready and she ate what she always eats (two pieces of sausage & a piece of toast). "Well that is a fluke," I say to myself, because everybody knows sweets BEFORE A MEAL ruin your appetite. So I am more determined with my experiment (to prove you all wrong) LOL. Do you want me to embarrass myself here:) Ya'll were right. Ya'll's experiences and your willingness to share them made Dakota and Shelby's life brighter.

Now the Sad truth about myself, that ya'll have made me realize is that while I don't believe in spanking, I am way way too verbal :( I was not honoring them because I am too damn bossy & controlling. So even though I say that I needed so desperately to find ya'll, it is really my whole family whose life ya'll have changed.

I talk abut ya'll so much to everybody, using your names and stories like you are my best friends. I feel like you all gave me your e-mail codes and let me dig through your personal life. I have so much in common with many of you that I feel like i've joined a secret club where (to me) people of like minds have chosen a higher path of parenting & living. I truly feel honored to call myself/kids, Unschoolers. Lookin forward to the ride:)

So, again thanks for your time spent on these boards. My new favorite word that I tell everybody is "MINDFUL" I will be more MINDFUL of the people in my life.

Paula L:
The best thing this site has done for me lately is help me respond with more respect and understanding to dh as well as ds. Dh had one of those days recently where he woke up with that "why bother?" feeling- nothing was interesting to him, he felt down on himself, didn't smile at anything...I responded with love as he just "was," as he took a nap and moped around and didn't interact much with us. I thought of how I feel on those days, how I just want my space and nothing at all expected of me. I spent time with ds, took him out to run an errand, did dishes, made dinner, all cheerfully, the whole time feeling such love for dh. After dinner he started feeling better and I could tell how much it meant to him that I was just there for him without expecting him to snap out of it, without expecting him to come with us on our errand despite how he was feeling, without expecting that he'd at least do dishes. We talked companionably about how we hate feeling so down like that. Very peaceful. And the reason I was so aware that I needed to let him "be" was these boards.

I am learning to read advice as straightforward and honest rather than critical. Hope to keep learning.

[I] feel that these boards have helped me understand my husband and even myself more. It's a wonderful side effect of unschooling that I will always be thankful for.
Since I'm in a thread that is started with "what this site has done for me" I'd have to say, totally improved my relationship with my kids. Before unschooling, I would never have thought of sitting with my kids and watching Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh. Yes I would sit and do things *I* thought were OK but I don't think I would give *their* choices much of a chance. Cool.
By the way, I don't know if it happens to others, but I realize as I post questions, that I post what I THINK my concerns are, and then I read responses and realize that my concerns aren't exactly what I thought they were, and I sort of refine my thoughts about what I need to work on.
I hope that those who are new to this board will read everything here with an open heart and mind; do not pass judgement without thinking about WHY you feel the way you do about something said here. I am so very, very thankful that I listened and thought and read and read and read and thought and listened. My whole family has been set free!! Thank you!
Read more about Donna's family's profound changes by clicking here.
The cool thing about these boards is that everyone here 'sees' what you're asking in a little bit different light, and we all relate to different parts of the question. We're all sensitive to different things because of similar experiences we've had in our own lives, and you end up getting ideas coming from all sides. It helps you look deeper into yourself and the first question always leads to another, and another and another...

When you read a book by an "expert", you only get his/her view on the subject. But here on these boards you get all sorts of perspectives, some you may agree with and some you may not. The best thing here is, it's all real. It's people that are living it and discussing what they've lived. More Lyle

Thanks to unschooling I have a whole new perspective on things. My actions to certain things have changed, the way I talk and interact with others and how I think about life has all changed. I feel more relaxed and content, happy AND free.... Last weekend my son had a gymnastics obstacle course early in the morning. I wanted my dh to come with. My old self would have told him when we are all going, that I wanted him to go, etc. How I handle my dh and my kids now is way different, they choose to participate.

The morning of my son's event, I got up early and made breakfast and got the kids ready. My dh woke up a little before we were to leave and he said he was going to get ready and go too. He chose to come with and he wanted to come with and his heart was really with us all because of that. If I would of made him come with he would have felt forced and I would have felt discontent because I had to make him go and know he didn't really want to be there. The way we I interact with my family now is so much better and there is so much more harmony in our home and our lives.

Yesterday a scary thing happened that pre unschooling I would have probably handled differently too. My 4yo son woke up crying that his head hurt and I saw that he had a purple bruise on his chin and just so happened he had a good fall the day before. He had hurt and scraped his arm, but never said anything about his head. I was worried and picked him up to take him to the couch to comfort him and he started to throw up all over. Really worried I called my dh and Dr. was told to take him into the ER because he could have a concussion. SO I got all the kids dressed and on the 20 minute drive to the hospital and after several prayers in my head to please let him be okay, he suddenly seemed much better. His ashen face was pink again, his head didn't hurt and he wasn't throwing up. He was laughing and wondering why we were rushing off to the Dr. My dh met us and wondered the same thing, but we decided to keep an eye on him for the rest of the day, have him take it easy and if he he showed any bad signs we would bring him in. We never took him in to the ER we decided to trust ourselves and my ds has been totally fine. Before I think I would have brought him in anyway, just to be sure and would've traumatized him by going in the ER. We went home I researched about concussions and reconfirmed we did what was right.

For me unschooling has taught me to not only trust my kids, but myself. I feel proud of the way we live our lives and I hope if anything we can set an example to others to make positive changes in the way they live their lives and how they interact with their families. Just the other day I was at the park and this woman was yelling and nagging at her kids, I was talking with mine and then they were off doing something and she started to talk to me and said my kids were well behaved and I had a lot of patience with them. I told her thank you, but what I wanted to tell her was that I give my kids the freedom to do what they want to do, I give them the respect they deserve , I talk to them, I don't order them and I don't yell at them or demean them.....I always hope that people like that woman will see by how I interact with my kids how wrong she is interacting with hers and change.

Unschooling has been a blessing to my life and I just felt like sharing it here today with those who truly understand.

I have found my passion in unschooling. I have been able to breathe life into my pre-existing respect for my children, so that it's a fully animated, responsive companion in all we do. In letting them fully be their own people, I have been able to connect with them in a deep and abiding way.

The joy of that connection is spilling over onto other children in our lives. The other day, a little neighbor boy (4yo) was at our house — interestingly enough, all the neighbor kids suddenly LOVE our house — and his mom called him home for dinner. He had been happily pretending to be a puppy and didn't want to leave. He started to whine and 'dodge.' So, I went up to him and said, "Oh, look, a poor lost puppy. Let's go see if the people at that house over there will adopt him." He grinned and I led him home, where his mom adopted him, and he's never been happier to go home to dinner.

I don't know if that description conveys how profound a moment it was for me. Here was a child who was fully prepared to be scolded, coerced, perhaps even punished, but with two seconds of looking at his situation with compassion and appreciation for his desires, I was able to give him a joyful transition back into his mom's world.

I don't know if I'm making any sense. The feelings are too big to explain, a flood of love and joy and trust and rightness.

I just wanted to say that I've been reading all of the different threads, new and old, to get an idea of what to expect, how to go about things, etc. I know it won't be easy at first, but we can already see a difference in Ian's outlook on things, which is very encouraging.

I can't tell you how grateful we are for finding this message board!

amberstauss (Amber) "Unschooling changed my view of the world. And it's a much happier place now."

unschooling...i can't even begin to explain how it has changed my life. i have been reading these boards for so long now. i always thought i "got" it, but i think just in the last few months have i REALLY been "getting" it. everyday i wake up and i am so thankful for this way of life that i have found....mostly with the help of everybody here on this site (so a big loud THANK YOU to everyone here!). i just feel this wonderful inner vibration that resonates within my soul whenever i read about unschooling, and am filled with such a joyful feeling of knowing that we are on the greatest path. i love to read about the folks who have made drastic changes with the way they deal with their children. it is really inspiring to hear of stories where people change so much for the better.

Just wanted to say that reading here has changed the way I see and react to DS' behavior. We're leaving for vacation today so last night was packing and sorting and all the usual pre-departure chaos (and we're driving then flying so we're figuring out suitcase and carry on and overnight bag etc). DS was getting kind of wild (it was around 9 pm so it had already been a full day and we were all tired). Instead of reacting to him, I paused, considered, and instead of a tired angry "Stop it or go to your room!" which would just escalate, I called him over and he sat in my lap and snuggled and we had a quiet chat about how exciting the trip was - his first time in a plane and all - and I kissed him and explained what all needed to get done, what *I* needed (a little quiet and space to work), and he decided to just go to the other side of the room and bounce for a minute quietly then come back and help. Totally defused a potentially explosive moment.

Then, finished upstairs and went downstairs and finished up. It was about 9:45 pm and I was ready for sleep. He brought me a video he had wanted to see at dinnertime but which had gotten put off. I needed to get to bed but I had told him we'd watch the video. What to do? So, I told him that I remembered that I promised and we had to make a choice because it was so late. He got ready to protest (since in the past the video would have been dismissed because it was "so late"). I stopped the protest and gave him the choices: We could watch the video and snuggle then go to bed (no stories) or we could skip the video and do stories and snuggle or we could just go snuggle. He chose video and snuggle. So we watched the video snuggled on the couch and then went up to bed. Another triumph for stopping and reconsidering what and why - he can sleep in today (while I'm at work) so there was no need for him to be in bed right then and he was all relaxed and ready for bed by the time the video was over (it was VeggieTales Esther - a fairly relaxed video anyhow) rather than upset and wound up.

So thanks all - what could've been a tense and turbulent evening ended up pretty calm and quiet by simply backing off and looking at my needs, his needs, DH's needs and finding a balance among them instead of "I'm the mom that's why".

Many topics from the original folder called "Ask Sandra" can still be read here: Conversations with Sandra Dodd, in sections from the WayBack Machine, at the Internet Archive. I've brought some direct links to that page, on my site.

The domain name is in its third incarnation, and is now a dishonest mess which you can read about here if you want.

Unschooling Discussion List

(once on yahoogroups, then on google groups, now archived; links after commentary)

When we started unschooling and this list there was a lot of doubt if we were doing the right thing or not but just listening and watching Christopher and seeing how he has changed and what he has become wipes all that doubt away. We really do feel like wonderful parents now and it truly does show in our son. I wouldn't give that up for anything in the world!


As a fairly new unschooler in a really conservative "school-at-home" homeschooling area, the support I feel from just reading these e-mails and the message boards has been both enlightening and empowering.

I haven't posted much because I'm still in the reading, reading, reading stage. I mostly continue to just be in awe of all the postive changes in my children and our family since we embraced unschooling. There is so much wisdom as well as some superb writing being shared by those of you who post on both this discussion group and the message boards.

Just wanted to say Thanks!


Since January, we've made some sweeping and radical changes in our family life, largely due to the influence of this group. Thank you so much for being unrelenting in how you express your ideas (not settling for "each mother is a good mother" type replies).

I have never had this much joy being a parent. I have been doing really well without having to come here daily for programming. I think that is a good testimony!

It's becoming second nature. I still make occasional mistakes, like making power struggles and punishments over stupid things, but immediately it feels "off" and I can apologize and start over with ease.

I am so thankful, i never dreamed my relationship with my oldest Megan (turning 11 tomorrow, always a very challenging, difficult child) could be mostly joyful. The closeness, the enjoying being together, these things weren't there a few short years ago. It was a battlefield at home, school was a break from each other. Then battles about school at home, constantly. It hurts to say that, but I can't see how far we've come without admitting where we were.

August 2003

A different kind of life leads to a different kind of thinking.

I love this! We've been committed to unschooling for several months now and already my thinking has changed radically. It's like I have been blindfolded most of my life and now that it's been removed I am truly seeing. I am so glad we are doing this now while the kids are young. I'm excited for them.

I have loved reading everyone's thoughts about what to expect as our kids get older. I think it has heaps to do with the state of our relationship with them.

I've been thinking about all the times in the past when I have interrupted my kids and told them what to do ALL the time, been abrupt while giving orders and generally not taking them into consideration when organizing the day, something you seem to end up doing when you school-at-home. How could I expect that I wouldn't receive that same disrespect and lack of interest from them when they get older?

My relationship with my kids is so much better now that I am treating them like people and I know that they will be able to talk to me about what's happening in their lives 5-10 years from now and that they will listen to what I have to say because I can see them doing it now. Because they know I am interested and I am not going to be angry with them or make judgments. They know from experience that I will listen and be gentle with them. And all this has happened in just a few short months. WOW!

I know I keep saying it but thank you everyone. Life is so much better! This list is one of the reasons that it is so.


I am a relatively new member here. I started reading about two months ago. If there had been an "Unschoolers who believe in food restrictions" option, or an "Unschoolers who use positive discipline" or "Theatre people who unschool" option, or "Unschoolers from Atlanta" option I would have never come here!! And I may never have felt myself actually changing the way in which I view my responsibilities as a parent. I came here for support in unschooling and found out I hadn't even understood how much more this could encompass than just education. I, too, feel the categories of life (as I had perceived them) shifting daily as I watch my kids living and learning.

As easy and comforting as it can be to sit around and chat with utterly like-minded, like-categoried folk, it is the people in any community who challenge me and keep me honest who keep me in the community. Who knew that a community of people in cyberspace could have more inpact on my parenting than my immediate family community? I am letting go of so many supposed convictions, ... well, at least realizing that they are beliefs and that they can be held upside down for a while to lose some dust.

If one's beliefs and convictions aren't challenged then how does one know if they are real? I am afraid that a kinder and gentler or other option would mean that someone else who is new to this and looking for real answers wouldn't stay on the challenging list long enough to "get it" if there were too many other options. I have to say that if I hadn't been instructed to just lurk here for a few weeks, and had another easy option next door I don't think I would have come close to getting it.

June 2003

I just wanted to thank everyone. If I was not on this list, I would be doubting my choice everyday. We had the most wonderful evening. I took the kids to the beach with a friend and her kids. It was low tide with a mild breeze and the water was like a bath. The kids were LOVING the water and rolling in the sand down the sand hills. Sand covering every square inch of their bodies..LOL!! We walked back to the car with the boys wrapped in their towels and naked butt cheeks. That is one of those moments that stands out and you will forever remember or would be heartbroken to forget. I felt such peace tonight. No stress over reading or writing. NO concerns with schools and the associated playmates. Just great fun with our friends enjoying our community and eachother. I am going to sleep like a baby, which my boys are doing now. This peace comes from unschooling so I want to thank everyone for their general support and constant praises of their own kids. Those posts give me the confidence I need everyday.

Olga :)
May 20, 2003

Again and again my kids can catch me when I am falling, and help me see the wonder of the small things.I feel so blessed to have this time with them, and to have their help in preserving my sense of awe at the world.

This list has done this for me as well. I don't often post because so many times people have already said what I wanted to say, only better. Keep it coming everyone, don't hold back. This is what is changing my life, the support and discussion I read every day.

Nancy, much more relaxed in BC

Betsy wrote:
This list is what it is. If people come here and think it sucks why do they stay?

I agree. I have only been here a short time and I have found it to be a very good tool while I am just getting started on my unschooling path. It is a very important goal for me and I have a lot to let go of to get there. The honesty and simplicity with which my requests have been answered is causing me to look at my self closely. That's not easy and I suppose one needs to be ready to do that in order for it to be helpful. I for one am grateful to be able to bend the ear of other folks who are living in a style I want for myself.

August 2003

[Back from vacation, and...] We had a homeschooling discussion while I was up there, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me "live unschooling" so much that I didn't much care when everybody delivered the typical questions that used to upset me. Socialization, testing, etc. I didn't get defensive or frustrated like I used to. Their doubts don't trouble me anymore. Hooray! And maybe I modeled enough respectful interactions with *their* kids to turn a light on in their brains? One can hope.......


My enthusiasm for this list is big! One of the new members wrote that she was reading every post and wondered if others could possibly be doing the same. I have to say that for a month now I have read almost every single post, though often skipping a few days if I have to! I don't think i could be implementing the changes I am making towards truly respectful, natural, unschooling mentality if I didn't have this community's example, debate, support. The discussions about Wishcraft r.e. thinking about your own wishes as a child reminded me of how much I loved listening to good adult converstaion or being part of it myself. I remember sitting among the adults in our living room one day when they were debating something in the paper (can't remember what - could have been about Patty Hearst or Nixon or even just the price of stamps!) and thinking to myself that good conversation could feel so filling -I was about ten, I think. I get that feeling here. I have a lot of friends — in my area and all over the world — but none of them are on this same Unschooling journey (yet) so I can't really share it with them or get as much from their parenting conversation.

I am really grateful for this list.

-Madeline (glad2bmadly)
June 8, 2003

I'm reminiscing, back to about Jan/Feb when I poked in here without having read a THING by ANYONE about Natural Learning...You didn't know it, because I didn't rant, but I said "Then this list is easily offended" and "left in a huff"...but about three days later, I was reading here again! LOL could NOT keep away there for a bit. Finally did go away for a few months to do the reading I needed to do.


I subscribed,lurked for a week then unsubscribed thinking there was no way I would ever be able to post comfortably so what was the point. That lasted a week 😊 then I subscribed again and after another week or so I realized that feeling uncomfortable was actually doing me some good. And I am so glad I've hung around. It's been life changing!

As for is this unschooling or not, I think it is, I never stop learning. Many discussions here spark my interest and I learn more and more everyday. I've changed political beliefs, educational beliefs, parenting ideals, food beliefs, (is there such a thing?) beliefs about TV and video games.... The list is long and wide!

You ladies are inspiring! Our lives have changed since Jan for the better and I have you all to thank.
Julie B

Pam Sorooshian wrote during a rough spot: When people read the conversations on this list, they very very often treat their kids better—even when they've totally disagreed with viewpoints expressed here, even when they've been defensive or angry, they become more aware parents and they are likely to be kinder and more thoughtful about how behave toward their kids!! That's good. I'm happy.

This is SO true!!
I was just talking about this very thing with someone today..(Hi Paula:) and how it's difficult to communicate what you are REALLY saying online and how you can so totally disagree with people and want to just blast them!! But, I have learned so much and am more aware, respectful and kind towards my three,and a grandbaby!, and I'm grateful to all of you and thankful for this list.

In a message dated 7/19/2006 11:29:06 AM Eastern Standard Time, [email protected] wrote:
If I were really mean as some people think, the meanest thing I could do would be to stop sharing anything about unschooling, or maybe even worse, tell everyone who comes along that they're on the right track and whatever they do will be great and unschooling is nothing special or particular, it's just whatever they want to think it is, have a nice day, I'm so glad you understand unschooling now.
Hi Sandra~

Some years back, I was quite taken aback by you and your comments and I didn't quite know what to think. But it was a good thing..it made me question everything and look deeper for answers. Very, very helpful to "get" unschooling.

I would rather someone be blunt and get to the point in order to help. You can find the "have a nice day" mentality everywhere.

And because you were so outspoken I really took notice...(shockingly at times 🙂 ). It gave me that extra jolt to think and question myself and my ways.

~marcia in MA

You can read more about Unschooling Discussion, its purpose and history, at SandraDodd.com/unschoolingdiscussion

Older archives archives on my site (rescued from yahoogroups by Vlad Gurdiga): Unschooling Discussion archives

Later archives, here, at googlegroups

Newer Comments on those discussions

Help for new Unschoolers Another level of how discussions can help