Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07

Years ago I owned and operated a website called Mommy Chats. Remember live chats? They used to be a big thing. Not anymore.

So eventually, after many successful years, the site faded away, and no longer exists (I actually sold it finally, but they never did anything with it)…you can only find it on The WayBack Machine now…but back in it’s hayday, I hosted lots of great mommy related chats, and even partnered up with (then) hugely popular and influential natural parenting magazine Mothering Magazine and hosted all their live chats. This is one of the homeschool related chats that I hosted. This one is with well respected and experienced unschooler and author, Sandra Dodd.

Below is the transcript of a chat I hosted on 4/25/07 with Sandra.  There were 21 moms in attendance.

Here’s the blurb from that chat:

Mothering Magazine Sponsored Chat with Sandra Dodd. Sandra Dodd grew up and lives in New Mexico, where she taught English when she was younger. Her children never went to school, and are now 15, 18 and 20. Sandra and her husband like to play and sing early period music for fun. Sandra has been active in online discussions of unschooling and natural learning for a dozen years and has an extensive prairie-dog-village of a website ( ). Sandra has been published in several magazines, and the book in which those articles have been collected, Moving a Puddle, can be purchased from .

13:00:03Webmama_Tinai hope sandra dodd remembers
13:00:07Webmama_Tinai sent her an email this morning
13:00:08Webmama_Tinaoh yay!
13:00:12Webmama_Tinathere she is! 🙂
13:00:16SandraMortknitting w sleeping boy on lap, not typing much
13:00:25SandraMortafternoon, sandra
13:01:55Webmama_Tinahi sandra!
13:02:03Webmama_Tinaglad to have you here!
13:02:04SandraDoddShould I introduce myself or wait a while?
13:02:07SandraDoddThank you.
13:02:09Webmama_Tinai’ll make the announcement that we are starting
13:02:42Webmama_TinaMothering Magazine sponsored chat with guest speaker Sandra Dodd is starting RIGHT NOW in the Mothering Mag chat room…Join us!
13:03:25Kamibug_and_Kiddosam i frozen?
13:03:32Webmama_TinaSandra Dodd grew up and lives in New Mexico, where she taught English when she was younger. Her children never went to school, and are now 15, 18 and 20. Sandra and her husband like to play and sing early period music for fun. Sandra has been active in online discussions of unschooling and natural learning for a dozen years and has an extensive prairie-dog-village of a website ( Sandra has been published in several magazines, and the book in which those articles have been collected, Moving a Puddle, can be purchased from
13:04:02Webmama_Tinaok now let me invite one more group…hold on…almost ready… 🙂
13:04:28SandraDoddAnd postage is going up very soon, so I need to change that page soon. But it hasn’t gone up yet! (end of my plug, totally)
13:04:31SandraMortkam – i see you’
13:04:49Webmama_TinaWelcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:04:59Webmama_Tinalol sandra
13:05:16Webmama_Tinaoh that was me laughing at what you said 🙂
13:05:29Webmama_Tinaok so lets get started and people will arrive as they can
13:05:43Webmama_Tinagave you guest speaker clothes, sandra 🙂
13:05:49Webmama_Tinayou’re now green in the list to the right too
13:05:58Webmama_Tinaok sandra did you want to add anything to the intro?
13:06:04Webmama_Tinaabout yourself or your knowledge?
13:06:07Webmama_Tinaor anything? 🙂
13:06:09SandraDoddWhen I play board games I always try to get the green marker. How appropriate!
13:06:28SandraDoddAbout my knowledge? I can speak to that, I suppose.
13:06:42SandraDoddWhen I was in first grade I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
13:07:01SandraDoddAll through school I paid attention to what teachers did and how, and why (when I could figure that out, which was pretty often)
13:07:13SandraDoddAnd I asked the other kids what they liked about teachers and what they didn’t
13:07:31SandraDoddSo I learned LOTS and lots about how learning works and what factors work for different kinds of people
13:08:06SandraDoddWhen I was older, 13/14 or so, I wanted to become a missionary (still teaching-related), or to work at a magazine.
13:08:36SandraDoddAnd it seems all those rolled together are what I’ve become. I write, and I help people have happier more peaceful lives, and it’s all about learning.
13:08:59Webmama_Tinathat’s awesome sandra
13:09:05SandraDoddSo in a natural-learning way I’ve been working up to this always.
13:09:44Webmama_Tinadid you always unschool your children?
13:10:17SandraDoddMy children never went to school; right. Outside my family (or lately with my two younger kids, actually) I’m often involved in philosophy discussions of history and virtues and such, and one concept that evolved from that was…
13:10:22SandraDodd“preparing for one’s unseen future.”
13:10:36SandraDoddAnd so in that way, I’ve always been preparing to be an unschooler, I guess.
13:10:51Webmama_Tinathey never went to school, got it, but were they unschooled the entire time or did that evolve to unschooling over time? just curious
13:10:56SandraDoddAnd I’ve seen such things in my children. Things they’ve done for fun have turned into opportunities to help others (or helped in employment).
13:11:02SandraDoddTo back up on the knowledge and preparation,
13:11:35Webmama_Tinaand mamas, start posting your single question marks if you want to get in line to ask sandra a question…i’m ready to start the queue. 😉
13:11:52SandraDoddwhen I went to college to become a teacher (I attended from 1970-1974, University of New Mexico, in the radical hippie days, at a radical hippie college) we studied alternative education heavily.
13:12:37SandraDoddMy oldest was born in 1986 and I joined La Leche League, here in Albuquerque. I was in a babysitting co-op in which half the families homeschooled.
13:12:52SandraDoddTwo families were unschoolers (and all LLL) and the other two did school at home
13:13:23SandraDoddSo for a couple of years before I had even considered homeschooling at all, I interacted frequently with these families–the kids without the parents, the parents without the kids, the whole families all together with other families.
13:13:24Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Webmama_Tina …upcoming chatters: ElijahsMommy
13:13:26SandraDoddWhat a lab!!
13:13:39SandraDoddI could not have hoped for a better experience.
13:13:52SandraDoddAnd that too was preparing for my unseen future, because all through that I thought I would send Kirby to school.
13:14:37SandraDoddWhat I discovered was that I wanted our family to be like those two unschooling families whose children would come and climb up into parents’ laps, whose parents helped their children try things, taste/touch/see/hear things, and were gentle and sweet.
13:15:04SandraDoddAnd the other two homeschooling families, though they were just as involved in La Leche League, were quite antagonistic with these school aged kids.
13:15:09SandraDoddSo I saw what was possible.
13:15:14SandraDoddAnd we always unschooled.
13:15:23Webmama_Tinavery interesting! 🙂
13:15:35SandraDoddMy children are 20, 18 and 15 now so only the youngest is “school age.”
13:15:48SandraDoddOkay. I’m done with my long intro.
13:15:52Webmama_Tinaso your kids would be great to use to research how children turn out that always unschooled…that’s fascinating 🙂
13:16:00Webmama_Tina🙂 that’s great, thanks sandra!\
13:16:05SandraDoddTina, do you prefer one line or two at a time, or whole paragraphs for posting?
13:16:12Webmama_Tinaelijahsmommy, you’re up!
13:16:28Webmama_Tinaeither is ok
13:16:37Webmama_Tinayou seem to type fairly fast so i think we’re good either way
13:16:59Webmama_Tinafor slower typers i ask for them to hit return more often so we don’t have as long of a gap waiting for the response…but you’re good the way you are i think 🙂
13:17:03SandraDoddMy sister assures me that I type faster than I think. That could be a danger here. <g>
13:17:10Webmama_Tinai hear ya
13:17:30ElijahsMommyWhat is the difference btwn homeschool and unschool? Can they later go to college?
13:17:45SandraDoddAnyone can go to college, regardless of other factors.
13:17:54Webmama_Tinaand don’t mind me as i post welcomes for latecomers, and remind the rules and queue
13:18:00Webmama_TinaWelcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:18:09SandraDoddThey can just take the SAT, ACT or whatever, or go to a community college and transfer.
13:18:35SandraDoddThere are lots and lots of ways to get into college, though high schools for their own purposes lead people to think that only a great high school record and the recommendations of counselors will get you in.
13:19:20ElijahsMommyOk so what is the difference btwn homeschool and unschool, and how was it doing it for 3 kids?
13:19:33SandraDoddAs to the difference, unschooling is a kind of homeschooling. There are other kinds, too.
13:19:53SandraDoddUnschooling isn’t a thing I “did for 3 kids,” though.
13:19:56SandraDoddIt’s a way to live.
13:20:46SandraDoddI can’t scroll up and see the top, so I don’t remember if my website’s there, but there’s more information at
13:20:59ElijahsMommyso it was a way of life…you just taught them little things everyday…?
13:21:03Webmama_Tinafor people that are new to the concept, could you give a short explanation of unschooling, sandra
13:21:12SandraDoddIf a link starts at the beginning of a line, Tina, will it be clickable?
13:21:25Webmama_Tinaif you type it as a url or with www at the beginning its clickable
13:21:39SandraDoddThey learned little and big things every few moments, day and night.
13:22:20Webmama_Tinaperhaps a comparison of traditional homeschooling vs unschooling would help for those that don’t understand unschooling yet? 🙂
13:22:25SandraDoddIt’s all… pink and green. <g> I’m afraid to click it because I don’t want to boot myself out of the chat.
13:22:42SandraMortthe link looks good
13:22:45Webmama_Tinaif you click a link inside the chat room it will open the page in a new window
13:23:02SandraDoddOH GOOD! Thanks.
13:23:02SandraMortit’s fine
13:23:03SandraMortI checked
13:23:26Webmama_Tinaif you click any other link on the page (such as in the navigation in the bar at the top of the page) that will take you away from the chat, but any links IN the chat, are fine to click
13:23:40SandraDoddOkay. Among homeschoolers, the most conservative sort of homeschooling is sometimes referred to as “school at home”
13:24:18SandraDoddSome families go so far as to have a classroom, a school schedule, flag, pledge of allegiance, the kids have to address their mom as “Mrs. Wilson” (or whatever) during “school” and the kids have to dress in “school clothes.” Whole school.
13:24:44SandraDoddMost, though, don’t go that far, but they’ll have school-style materials and lessons and “subjects” with reports and tests and all.
13:25:38jenajusticewhat about when a child *wants* that style of “homeschool” and the parent doesn’t?
13:25:41ElijahsMommyso with doing unschool did you do a lot of research on things they liked, if you didn’t know much about it
13:26:00SandraDoddThere are within that range some particular kinds of programs that are less like public school and more like a stricter private school (more religious, more classical/Greek/Latin) and some that are more like more liberal schools.
13:26:05SandraDoddBut still it’s like a school one way or another.
13:26:48SandraDoddFor myself, if I thought school was the way to go I’d send them to school with professionals. Because one drawback of school at home is that kids don’t like school, but at least if school’s bad they get to go home.
13:27:03SandraDoddTo make home a school robs the children of the relief of going home.
13:27:13SandraDoddBut I really don’t want to spend the hour talking about school. REALLY don’t. <g>
13:27:18Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: ElijahsMommy …upcoming chatters: SandraMort
13:27:35SandraDoddI don’t know any children who would want a strict adversarial relationship with a parent.
13:27:49SandraDoddI didn’t need to do a lot of research on subjects. I just shared the explorations with my children
13:28:10ElijahsMommyare any of your children in college?
13:28:21ElijahsMommyor even had a desire?
13:28:36SandraDoddThe oldest did a semester, and might go back. The second has been talking about it (the 18 year old).
13:29:20SandraDoddIt was a community college situation. He started a math course baffled and ended up with the highest test grade and second highest class grade.
13:29:38SandraDoddIf they decide to go, they’ll have no problems.
13:29:54SandraDoddBoth my boys were offered jobs–the first when he turned 14, the the other at 15.
13:29:59ElijahsMommyone more question does your book talk about the whole unschooling,,,and your experience
13:30:24SandraDoddThey didn’t apply. So they both worked from earlier than most kids ever could, and they learned lots about things they never would have been exposed to, by working.
13:30:32SandraDoddAnd they had money to pursue other hobbies.
13:30:59SandraDoddThe book is essays (many of which are online on my site) on many different unschooling experiences and topics.
13:31:07ElijahsMommyoh ok…thank you
13:31:41SandraDoddAll the how-to stuff about how unschooling works is at my site, though. I’ve collected and linked to many other people’s writings, too.
13:31:58SandraDoddIt’s not just my voice there. Years of the best of unschooling ideas!
13:32:07Webmama_Tinasandra can you just give a brief explanation of unschooling…
13:32:31Webmama_Tinai would like to have it in the transcripts and for those that are not familiar with it yet 🙂
13:32:34SandraDoddOkay. And Tina, if I’ve missed a question, please prompt me, because I tried looking up but couldn’t go very far back in the chat.
13:32:42Webmama_Tinano worries, i got your back 🙂
13:33:25SandraDoddUnschooling is based on the open classroom theories of the late 1960’s and the 1970’s. John Holt was one of many proponents of the idea that schools should be revamped
13:33:32SandraDoddin such a way that children had choices
13:33:40SandraDoddand could discover things in fun ways
13:33:51SandraDoddby seeing and touching and experimenting informally
13:34:12SandraDoddwith materials, plants, equipment, concepts, art, music…
13:34:31SandraDoddThat if things are laid out in fun ways in interesting surroundings and children are encouraged to explore, they can’t help but learn.
13:35:06SandraDoddAnd researchers in those days had lots of proof and hopeful statistics and evidence, but then to their great dismay it didn’t work outside of the laboratory schools and university experiements.
13:35:20SandraDoddThere are several reasons for the failures.
13:35:45SandraDoddI live in an area where many schools tried these methods. And I did when I taught to the extent I could (which was insufficient).
13:36:02SandraDoddAnd in Albuquerque several physical schools were built on the model recommended by the open classroom folks.
13:36:13SandraDoddBut first, the teachers have to really understand and want to do it.
13:36:31SandraDoddAnd second, the freedom has to have some reality. It can’t just be “kind of” freedom.
13:36:41SandraDoddAnd the BIG one is the kids have to be there because they want to be there.
13:36:56SandraDoddAnd so when the everyday realities of public school are laid over that, it fails.
13:37:23SandraDoddBut in the experimental situations, the kids had agreed to be in alternative schools, or their parents had been supportive of it (during and after school) and the teachers were the researchers.
13:37:36SandraDoddSo the theory is great,and the research was done, but it couldn’t work.
13:37:42SandraDoddIn individual families, though it CAN work!
13:37:48SandraDoddAnd it does.
13:38:06SandraDoddAnd now I suppose the next question will be “but what does it look like” or “what is a typical day like?”
13:38:10SandraMortMy sister was in one of those open classroom projects in the early 80’s in NYC. Ironically, I was part of the reason my mother pulled her out of the program.
13:38:13Webmama_Tinalol yup
13:39:23Webmama_TinaWelcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:39:34SandraMortoops. sorry!
13:39:47SandraDoddI’ve collected lots of typical days accounts and I’ll put the link here, but read them later. There are very many. And in “Reading Rainbow” tradition, I’ll say (in LaVar Burton’s voice) that you don’t have to take my word for it. 
13:39:50Webmama_Tinano worries sandra… 🙂 you’re the next chatter anyway, you’re good 🙂
13:40:20Webmama_TinaLOVE lavar!
13:40:43Webmama_Tinasandramort, go for it, you’re up!
13:41:06SandraMortFirst, I wanted to thank you for your web site. I have it linked from my blog and it’s the fitst place I refer people when they have questions (and I’m not feeling patient enough to answer).
13:41:52Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey
13:41:56SandraMortI’m the mom of an unschooling family with three kids (8, 6 and 2) despite being a bad influence and nagging my mother to take my sister out of the open classeom setting… 🙁
13:42:01SandraMortBad me..
13:42:16SandraMortWe’ve never done it another way, other than one “semester” of “preschool” that my oldest went to at 3.
13:42:32SandraMort(Hey, I’m Jewish, I get to feel guilty, even if I was only 12 at the time!!!)
13:43:05SandraMortMy question is what your response is when someone calls you a “radical unschooler”. I don’t feel like we’re doing anything particularly radical and my reaction is always somewhat defensive… the word ‘radical’ usually feels judgemental in that context.
13:43:34SandraDoddI talked my cousin (my age, who grew up with me) out of homeschooling her first child and she went on to have five, and would’ve been a great homeschooler. Talk about GUILT! And honestly, my first work to help others unschool was directly penitential.
13:43:52SandraDoddI told myself I was going to help other people for four years to make up for talking Nada out of unschooling.
13:44:08SandraDoddI don’t mind “radical.” I just hear it as “real” or “actual”
13:44:18SandraDodd(“everything is satisfactual”)
13:44:24SandraMortlol ok
13:45:00SandraDoddWhen they use it as an insult (as a few do), I just figure they’re trying to discredit me at a surface level, since they can’t do it in any substantial way.
13:45:06Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey, GourmetMama
13:45:21SandraDoddBut most who say “radical unschooling” mean (I think) complete, whole-life unschooling.
13:45:52SandraDoddPeople who have met my kids never say another negative thing about unschooling. It’s kind of amazing.
13:46:08SandraDoddWhen I figured that out, as my kids got older, I started trying always to take one of them with me to any conference where I spoke.
13:46:19SandraDoddBecause my words might be fun and inspiring, but they’re no “proof.”
13:46:35SandraDoddBut when a nervous parent spends any time talking with Kirby or Marty or Holly, their fears dissolve.
13:46:52SandraMort*nod* An unschooler s hat convinced me (I think you know Daystar, actually)
13:47:03SandraMortis what
13:47:24SandraDoddOh! “is what.” I was thinking “hat” 🙂 
13:47:28SandraMorthe was so literate, so well spoken, had such poise with adults
13:47:47Webmama_Tinalol i thought you saw a hat that convinced you too, LOL!
13:47:54SandraDoddWhen my boys were offered those jobs, it was because of that. They were already whole people even though they were young.
13:47:58SandraMortno, the laptop keyboard is junk
13:48:10Webmama_Tinai was going to say…wow, i want to know what that hat said! LOL
13:48:22SandraMortnow you know why I want to learn to knit!
13:48:29SandraMorthats talk to me
13:48:42SandraDoddThey were responsible and reliable and calm (and also fun and funny, but not as so many 14 year olds can be, eye-contact-avoidant, or shifty or lazy…)
13:49:04SandraDoddI used to be that way when I was 14.
13:49:12waterdogI can’t believe it took me 45 min to get in here. I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying to do it while homeschooling! lol
13:49:24Webmama_Tinalol waterdog…glad you made it!
13:49:27SandraDoddI had become pretty distrustful of adults, and school had taught me to stay away from older and younger kids, and just stick to kids my own age. Very unnatural.
13:49:29Webmama_TinaWelcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:49:44Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey, GourmetMama
13:50:03SandraDoddTina, I’m not sure how this works, completely, but I’m willing to stay longer if that’s an option, if others want.
13:50:05SandraMortwell, it’s time for a purl row… and I have to finish learning so I can help the kids learn to knit… 🙂
13:50:10SandraMortSo I thank you
13:50:14Webmama_Tinaoh that’s great sandra, thanks!
13:50:29Webmama_Tinastacey, you’re up! 🙂
13:50:31StaceyI keep getting bumped off so I hope this goes through…
13:50:42Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
13:50:49StaceyWe have been homeschooling for 11 years, unschooling for the last 7 of those
13:51:35Staceyfor the past year or so we’ve been coping with caring for my terminally ill mom and now are all still reeling from her death. I find that even though I consider us unschoolers,
13:52:37StaceyI feel more like we’re just surviving…I’m not as innovative or involved in the way we used to do school and for the life of me, can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.
13:53:24SandraDoddIf your kids were going to school during that time, they wouldn’t have been learning much and might have been disruptive to the rest of the class. Grief and preoccupation do that to anyone.
13:53:34StaceyI’m grateful that we’re not following a curriculum of any sort, but now, a couple of my children have turned to that. I guess I feel like instead of unschooling I’ve been unparenting..
13:53:51SandraDoddSome teachers are grieving or caught up in their own personal problems, and it keeps them from being fully present there too.
13:54:29Webmama_Tinai would think its totally ok to be on hold while you all make it through the stages of grief
13:54:40SandraDoddI don’t see why your children should turn to a curriculum instead of turning to books, DVDs, music, hobbies, friends outside the family…
13:54:44Webmama_Tinaand i’m so sorry for your loss!
13:55:05StaceyThanks, and I do know that they’ve learned soooo much from all of this.
13:55:10SandraDoddIn school, a third of the kids are behind, a third are ahead, and the other third are mostly resistent. <g>
13:56:10StaceyI guess I’m looking for I don’t know ? a jumpstart or maybe just some encouragement to continue…
13:56:11Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
13:56:19SandraDoddThe idea/ideal of school shepherding kids through materials as a group isn’t reality.
13:56:35SandraDoddThe idea/ideal of every teacher being together 180 days a year and fully attentive to every one of 30 kids isn’t reality.
13:57:10SandraDoddAnd so the ideal of every unschooling mom doing innovative and involved things 365 days a year isn’t realistic either.
13:57:57SandraDoddThink in terms of hours and days, of the year (let’s call it a year) that you cared for your mom. It must have been very intense, and I bet the kids learned a lot about geriatrics (the big field in many ways) and medicine and human factors.
13:58:07SandraDoddMaybe they learned about finance, insurance, laws, traditions.
13:58:31SandraDoddMaybe they heard more about the history of your family than they would have if you hadn’t known your mom was terminal.
13:58:39StaceyThe completely learned to never pick up a cigarette, that’s for certain.
13:58:57SandraDoddHow many hours did they spend doing (I don’t know…) food prep, meds prep, clean-up, helping take care of their mom?
13:59:15StaceyToo many to count
13:59:22SandraDoddWhen people have measured the amount of real “learning time” in schools, it’s come down to like between fifteen minutes and two hours a day.
13:59:35SandraDoddStill, schools count it as six hours a day (or whatever, in whichever jurisdiction.)
13:59:45SandraDoddSo six hours times 180 days.
14:00:06SandraDoddThat’s the conservative amount of time anyone claims school “provides.”
14:00:20SandraDoddWith unschooling, it comes to be all the time, every day, all year.
14:00:32SandraDoddBut if you worry about what seems like a solid month of “nothing,”
14:00:46SandraDoddhere is how many days of “nothing” are scheduled by every public school I know of:
14:00:59SandraDoddOver half the year, summer, vacations and weekends, NOTHING.
14:01:24SandraDoddA child who is deeply involved in something interesting to him will learn.
14:01:33StaceyOne unexpected bonus of this is that we were all there when she died, something that our entire society is mostly protected from, seeing birth, death,picking and eating their own food…I know that it’s enriched them.
14:01:38SandraDoddA child who casually picks up some object he’s never seen is learning.
14:02:05StaceyI guess it’s just hard to squeeze onto a transcript!
14:02:13SandraDoddI have an article, and it’s online, about looking too narrowly for what you want to find.
14:02:35Staceyis there a link?
14:02:53SandraDoddThat might help you, Stacey.
14:03:02SandraDoddSorry, I was trying to paste it in and couldn’t get it to go.
14:03:17SandraDoddAre you sure you need to have a transcript, Stacey?
14:03:23StaceyThanks. I love the guidance you’ve given all of us
14:03:31SandraDoddVery few jurisdictions actually require that.
14:03:49SandraDoddThank you for the kind words, Stacey.
14:04:18Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
14:04:54SandraDoddI was just telling a young (22) friend the other day that my kids were always the most exhausted
14:05:05SandraDoddnot after a day of physical activity, but after a day of intense learning.
14:05:26StaceyThat sort of describes my kids, too.
14:05:27SandraDoddIf they saw things they had never seen, got to do something they’d never done, met new people and played and talked, they slept like rocks.
14:05:45SandraDoddBut those days might not have looked like something to write a transcript about.
14:05:55SandraDoddSometimes the most intense learning of all looks like play.
14:06:07SandraDoddAnd that is central to what makes unschooling work.
14:06:06StaceyI can’t get them to sleep for their voracious reading, they’ll routinely go through a book or two a day
14:06:38SandraDoddWhat makes unschooling work is that children learn by playing.
14:06:51SandraDoddOlder kids too. Adults, too.
14:06:56SandraDoddPeople learn by playing.
14:07:04StaceyYou’re right. There are so few unschoolers here that I forget what I’m doing.
14:07:05SandraDoddPeople can learn without “work” and “study.”
14:07:15SandraDoddThey can learn by trying, discussing, exploring.
14:07:43SandraDoddStacey, I don’t believe you need to try to “get them to sleep” either.
14:07:55SandraDoddSleep happens when people are sleepy. People will, and do, sleep.
14:07:58StaceyYou’re right!
14:08:44SandraMortthat didn’t go through
14:08:54StaceyIt’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how to walk! What you’re saying are things that I know. Things that I’ve told others for years and now it’s me looking for the answers again <sigh>
14:09:04SandraMorta shame, sleep is a Big Problem for us
14:09:36SandraMortThere are LOTS of pages on this site, but /sleep isn’t one of them.
14:10:12SandraDoddDOH!! Sorry. SleepING what have I done wrong?
14:10:20SandraDoddI try to make them guessable.
14:10:27Webmama_Tinasorry, had a phone call…i’m back 🙂
14:10:30Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
14:10:49SandraDoddif you try (or anything) you’ll either get a page or a search page.
14:11:12Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama, jenajustice
14:11:21StaceyMy youngest is pulling at my sleeve, wanting to go swimming…even though it’s going to mean missing out on the rest of this chat, it’s where my heart is leading me. Thanks for the encouragement. S
14:11:35SandraDoddHave fun, Stacey.
14:11:41SandraDoddI hope you feel more confident soon!
14:11:43Webmama_Tinacurrent chatter: GourmetMama …upcoming chatters: jenajustice
14:12:22GourmetMamaFirst I want to thanks Tina for her hard work running the chat and Sandra for being here to inspire us.
14:12:35SandraDoddI’m glad to have been invited.
14:12:59Webmama_Tinaoh i wasn’t watching the time…ok so that will be our last question, and the queue is closed now, so we can wrap this up (otherwise we could go on all day! *grin*)
14:13:16SandraDoddI can go on all day. My youngest is 15 now. <g>
14:13:17Webmama_Tinaaw, thanks for the kind words GourmetMama
14:13:39Webmama_Tinalol, mine is 21mo and my 6yr old has strep throat so i should get outta here soon 🙂
14:13:49GourmetMamaI have two questions, Sandra. The first is that my middle son wishes to enter college to be a nurse and they have requested a transcript. How do you put real life into a transcript for college? The second is how did your kids ever learn their times tables?
14:14:15GourmetMamaWithout rote memorization I mean. LOL
14:14:38SandraDoddWrite a narrative instead of a transcript. State in the narrative that many homeschoolers make up transcripts but that it would be dishonest, and that your son has learned in the ways they need college students to learn.
14:14:50SandraDoddIf you need help with wording, go to an unschooling discussion list and ask for help.
14:15:00SandraDoddThey’ll help you.
14:15:05GourmetMamaoh! What a great idea! Thank you!
14:15:33SandraDoddI must answer your question with a question (or at least a request for clarification): Please define “learn their times tables.”
14:15:40GourmetMamaFeels a little like a light bulb went off over that one. lol
14:16:17GourmetMamaMy daughter cannot do multiplcation. She hates it, hates all math, and we have been struggling to help her learn her multiplication tables.
14:16:30SandraDoddThis is not an unschooling question.,
14:16:43SandraDoddBecause I would have to ask how you know your daughter cannot do multiplication.
14:16:50SandraDoddWhy does she “hate math”? 
14:16:59SandraDoddWhy are you HAVING “math” for her to hate?
14:17:26Webmama_Tinafor learning times tables with music…
14:17:45GourmetMamaWon’t she need math to get a job or into college?
14:17:46Webmama_Tinain a fun way, play in the car while driving around
14:17:48SandraDoddSorry to answer so many questions with links, but really it’s best. The answers are all written out.
14:17:55GourmetMamaThank you Tina.
14:18:06SandraDoddHave you ever seen a job application that says “What is 6×9?”
14:18:16SandraDoddHow do kids in school “learn their times tables”? 
14:18:18GourmetMamaNo that’s fine, Sandra, if it’s there, then cool, I’ll go read it!
14:18:19SandraDoddMany never do.
14:18:40SandraDoddAnd I want to say this, too. Most people don’t even know what they mean when they say “times table”
14:18:44SandraDoddwhat “table”?
14:18:52GourmetMamaWell, we were required to write them every day until our brains imploded. lol Which is what I wanted to avoid.
14:19:15SandraDoddAnd if you write out the big grid of 1×1 through 9×9 (or 12×12) then you have created one single “table.”
14:19:21SandraDoddAnd it doesn’t need to be “learned.”
14:19:58SandraDoddAnd many schoolkids who think they have “learned their times tables” are reciting things that make no sense to them at all. They have no understanding of what they mean when they recite “nine times nine is eighty-one”
14:20:24SandraDoddBut my kids first “did times tables” on paper for fun for a penny a square to go buy a soda. <g>
14:20:46SandraDoddPutting math to song is still rote memorization and won’t necessarily lead to any understanding.
14:20:54SandraDoddBut my kids learned lots of things with music.
14:21:06Webmama_Tinatrue sandra…they should learn it hands on first
14:21:10SandraDoddDiscovery Toys has (had) a tape called “Sounds like Fun” that was REALLY popular here.
14:21:32SandraDoddAnd they learned the days of the week by singing them to the tune of Yankee Doodle (pre-Barney; now kids think of that as the Barney song)
14:21:53SandraDoddBut because the days of the week fit into each of the four lines of the song, it’s also good for learning how long a month is (four weeks, and some…)
14:22:04GourmetMamaSo if they get the concept…that 7X3 is the same as 7 + 7 + 7 then they do know how to multiply?
14:22:24SandraDoddThe reason I asked you to clarify is because it depends what you mean by “know.”
14:22:30SandraMortsure, that’s where my kids are right now
14:22:34SandraDoddRecite? Understand? Recognize it on paper?
14:22:53SandraDoddIf you read the times tables article I put there
14:23:06SandraDoddyou’ll see a story of Kirby teaching people older than he was to multiply by 18 in their heads.
14:23:13SandraMorteva ‘discovered’ the commutative principle the other day… i think that’s the one….. 2×3 = 3 x 2
14:23:22GourmetMamaI guess what I meant was understand in a way to be able to utilize it in other math problems and reallife situations.
14:23:31SandraDoddBut when he went to take that math course at the community college, he didn’t recognize the notation.
14:23:48SandraDoddI hope you didn’t tell Eva anything like “Oh, that’s the commmutative property of numbers!”
14:24:06SandraDoddTo understand math without knowing mathematical notation is WAY better than the other way around.
14:24:32SandraDoddBut if you start with notation, you can make kids hate and fear math. Schools do it ALL THE TIME, every day (well, six hours times 180 days a year, I mean).
14:24:34SandraMortLOL No, we were on an escalator, she uses math to distract her from the heights. She had waaaay more important things on her mind than meaningless titles
14:24:38SandraDoddDon’t try that at home! <g>
14:24:45Webmama_Tinadefinitely…to actually understand the concepts fully…makes a heckuva lot more sense then memorizing things they don’t understand
14:24:51SandraDodd(not the escalator, the turning kids off to math)
14:25:09GourmetMamaSo as long as they grasp the concepts then I am overworrying the rest, basically.
14:25:14SandraDoddPaul McCartney was doing okay musically without knowing musical notation.
14:25:24SandraDoddHe did learn to read and write music, in his 40’s, because he wanted to.
14:25:29SandraDoddBut it wasn’t necessary for being a musician.
14:25:55SandraMortIt’s SO cool… it’s like the joy of watching a baby learn to walk. They just DO. Without knowing the names of the steps involved… it just is internalized.
14:25:59SandraDoddI would hate to even start to imagine how many potential musicians just turned away from the idea of singing or playing instruments because they were pressed to learn music theory and notation at a young age.
14:25:59SandraMortand then they can walk.
14:26:04SandraDoddYES. They can just learn.
14:26:09SandraDoddThat’s what unschooling is about.
14:26:19SandraDoddTake away the school, the school language and practices and expectations.
14:26:25SandraDoddAnd all that’s left is the learning.
14:26:31SandraMortBut math still scares me. I work so hard to not let them see that.
14:26:42SandraMortSorry — them “not learning math” scares me.
14:26:50SandraDoddDon’t be schooly or schoolish.
14:26:56SandraDoddBe UN schoolish.
14:26:59GourmetMamaShe hates math because she is dyslexic and she confuses the numbers so it’s frustrating rather than fun. For the most part she does a LOT of cooking and uses fractions with ease…but anything else just makes her mad.
14:27:04SandraMortNo, I’m not. And they’re learning. I shut my mouth and they do fine.
14:27:11SandraDoddNo, she hates math because someone put “math” in front of her.
14:27:24SandraDoddThere’s nothing to be mad about in the absence of the notation and the pressure and the schoolishness.
14:27:45SandraDoddIt won’t be fun for kids who aren’t dyslexic, for someone to put numbers in front of a person.
14:27:52SandraDoddLet her ask.
14:27:59SandraDoddPlay games, build things, do art.
14:28:06SandraDoddPatterns and counting occur naturally in the whole world.
14:28:14SandraMortI’m told that knitting is really good for learning math.
14:28:18SandraDoddLet her discover those things in the course of doing other things.
14:28:31SandraDoddIf you think of knitting as “good for learning math” it isn’t good for knitting. <g>
14:28:34SandraMortThough that’s not the reason I’m teaching the kids… they wanted to know how
14:28:39SandraDoddEVERYthing is good for learning everything
14:28:40SandraMortNo, no, I just heard that
14:28:54SandraDoddThere’s a page with few words. Lots of learning.
14:28:58SandraMortWell, sure, but vitamin A from carrots isn’t less good for you if you LIKE carrots.
14:29:17SandraDoddCarrots should be eaten by people who want to eat carrots, though.
14:29:21GourmetMamaI’m trying to decide when she started attempting to do math….her brother loves it and I think she wanted to do what he was doing…which led to frustration and her wanting to do it to be able to challenge him, etc.
14:29:37SandraMortRight. And my kids want to learn to knit.
14:29:40SandraDoddI think you’re thinking of math as something separate from life.
14:30:08SandraMortthe kids aren’t the ones with issues, I am… and I don’t intend to pass those issues on 🙂
14:30:14SandraDoddSomething that is “done” rather than something that is part of looking around and hearing music and all that.
14:30:30SandraDoddparents need deschooling way more than any kids ever will
14:30:46Webmama_Tinavery true
14:30:50GourmetMamaSo she initially wanted to and couldn’t and I think I should have simply encouraged her to try again later rather than again every day.
14:30:52SandraDoddIf a child was in school five years, he can recover in five months. Most of us were in school for 12, 16, 20 years.
14:30:59SandraDoddTeaching counts for being in school.
14:31:13Webmama_Tinai’m amazed at how completely some people “dont’ get it”…prime example, was dayna trying to explain unschooling to dr phil, LOL
14:31:23Webmama_Tinadr phil did NOT get it
14:31:33SandraMortbut he set her up to fail, it was no accident.
14:31:34SandraDoddAnd just with any recovery, it doesn’t start until the person consciously wants to work on it, so some parents try to unschool without getting over school themselves.
14:31:41GourmetMamaThat is SO true. I have been homeschooling for 9 years and I still fall back into “school” mentality without realizing I do!!
14:31:54SandraDoddAnd then they are setting their kids up to fail because they will still see what their kids do through school-colored glasses.
14:32:22SandraDoddDeschooling for you, GourmetMama! You can do it!
14:32:39GourmetMamaThank you Sandra!
14:33:29GourmetMamaI’m done. Thank you both. I will explore your website in detail later Sandra. We are making lip balms and salves this afternoon!
14:33:48SandraMortoh fun
14:33:59SandraDoddSounds fun. Don’t forget to look, though. It will make your children’s lives and your life more peaceful
14:34:03SandraDoddAnd peace and calm help learning!
14:34:08SandraDoddStress and pressure never help learning.
14:34:41Webmama_Tinajenajustice had our last question
14:35:01Webmama_Tinai think?
14:35:17Webmama_Tinai’m getting distracted to the nth degree over here with whining children, so i need to wrap this up
14:35:18jenajusticeHello, my question is about support for large families .. I have 6 children and find unschooling to be a challenge I 6 people going 6 directions
14:35:37jenajusticesorry typo
14:35:38SandraDoddThe typical days page might help you with ideas.
14:35:53SandraDoddI don’t really understand the six directions, because often several kids will be doing things together.
14:36:10SandraDoddSchool at home would be a nightmare, for a mom trying to “do lessons” with six different kids,
14:36:12jenajusticenot mine they all goin different directions
14:36:15SandraDoddbut unschooling isn’t like that
14:36:23jenajusticeyes it would
14:36:46SandraDoddIf you just deal with those who need the most help, some are doing things peacefully and contentedly, I’m guessing
14:36:53jenajusticeI often find myself trying to get them to all do the same thing because it is daunting tyring to let them each go their own way
14:37:09jenajusticeand t.v. … ok or not ok?
14:37:17SandraDoddThat doesn’t seem good for learning, to stop them from doing what seems interesting to them in the moment.
14:37:28SandraDoddIf you set your priority on learning and peace, it makes other questions easier.
14:37:43SandraDoddI have three things to say to Jena’s questions and then I can quit so Tina can go.
14:37:53jenajusticethanks sandra
14:38:06SandraDoddWhen trying to decide whether unschooling is working, remember to compare it to what would be going on if your kids went to school
14:38:12Webmama_Tinathat’s fine sandra 🙂
14:38:18SandraDoddThey’d be doing six different things (homework) not of your choosing or theirs.
14:38:23SandraDoddAnd you would be expected to oversee/help.
14:38:42SandraDoddThey would have been taught by school NOT to fraternize with others; they would be less likely to play together.
14:39:00SandraDoddSo don’t compare it to your imagined ideal. Compare it to other real options, and then appreciate what you have.
14:39:01jenajusticeone of our big reasons for NOT being in ps
14:39:16jenajusticeso our kids will actually like each other lol
14:39:23SandraDodd#2, on the TV question,
14:39:29jenajusticeyes your right thanks for the perspective
14:39:29SandraDoddand follow the link to Joyce’s page here:
14:39:41SandraDodd and read what she has to say about TV.
14:40:02jenajusticeK thank you so much and thank you tina
14:40:13SandraDoddTV is as wonderful as any library, as the internet, as all the books you could own, as all the DVDs you could own,and increasingly, those things above are becoming all one mass of info.
14:40:23SandraDoddOne more thing Jena… wait.
14:40:29jenajusticestill here
14:40:48SandraDoddAbout trying to get them to do the same thing because it would be more convenient for you
14:40:54SandraDoddor seem more… organized?
14:40:57SandraDoddthis might help:
14:41:25SandraDoddIf people come to consider what principles are at work instead of just trying to be controlling and making rules, it makes it VERY easy for parents to decide what to do, and for kids to decide too.
14:41:42jenajusticeour house is small so convience and organization are hard to come by
14:41:47SandraDoddIf you know what you believe and what your goals are, then everyday life clears up and you see the benefits and the learning.
14:41:59SandraMortI’m still stuck on your sleep page — will you be back again on MC, I hope?
14:42:15SandraDoddIf convenience and organization are your primary goals, unschooling might not be viable for you.
14:42:19SandraMortsleepING, that is 😉
14:42:27jenajusticethat may be the best hs advice EVER
14:42:33SandraDoddIf learning and peace in your family are primary goals, convenience will come secondary to it.
14:42:46SandraDoddyou have to know what’s more important.
14:43:00SandraDoddFor me it was my child’s peace and comfort and learning, and everything has flowed from that.
14:43:08SandraDoddMy relationship with my husband got better, I was nicer to my pets…
14:43:19Webmama_Tinaahhh, nice
14:43:29SandraDoddI did a talk on that. The notes are there.
14:43:31Webmama_Tinai’m guessing housekeeping wasn’t a priority then either? 🙂
14:43:42SandraDoddNo. I can clean house after the kids leave.
14:43:45Webmama_Tinai’m in a mess over here, trying to rationalize it, LOL
14:43:55SandraDoddI know some people with very clean houses and very unhappy families.
14:44:09SandraDoddIf that’s a priority, send the kids to school.
14:44:13SandraMortwell, there has to be a happy medium
14:44:21SandraDoddUse birth control quickly before another poopy kid comes along!
14:44:26SandraMortyou can’t be happy (or learn) in a pigsty, either
14:44:28Webmama_Tinalol, i always love hearing that from people…makes me feel better about our pigsty…although a certain degree of cleanliness is needed to have a peaceful home too…huge amounts of clutter is stressful
14:44:32SandraMortor if cps takes them
14:44:45SandraDoddIf a medium is the priority, life will be a little different than if happiness if the priority.
14:44:54jenajusticeya bugs take over real fast in south texas
14:45:05SandraMortwell, happiness is my priority and I
14:45:10SandraDoddSo even when you use a term like “happy medium” try to be mindful of what you’re saying, and what your principles are.
14:45:17SandraMortI’m struggling to get the house out of pigsty-dom
14:45:22Webmama_Tinahere too
14:45:30Webmama_Tinai don’t care about it being spic and span
14:45:42Webmama_Tinajust not stinky and us to be able to actually find things, LOL
14:45:43SandraDoddIt helps to hear what you say (read what you write) as clearly as you can.
14:45:51Webmama_Tinathanks sandra
14:45:56SandraDoddAnd then to hear what you think, about your children and your life, as clearly as you can.
14:45:57Webmama_Tinaboth sandras, LOL
14:46:13SandraDoddGood luck, all! Thanks for havng me to chat, Tina.
14:46:20Webmama_Tinai will be reading your site soon! i need some more ideas and insights like this
14:46:27Webmama_Tinayour welcome sandra and thank YOU for coming!
14:46:31SandraDoddIf you lose the links, just google unschooling or my name and you should find me.
14:46:32Webmama_Tinathis was a very insightful chat!
14:46:42SandraMortCome again, Sandra

Related Posts


  1. Thank you for saving this. The internet keeps dissolving around me (and I’m sure you know the feeling!) 🙂

    Because I’ve kept links to interviews and articles, it’s good when the link has a place to go. I appreciated the fun discussion that day, and I’m glad some people will still be able to read it now, and maybe later.

  2. I’m back. 🙂 I was working on an old post that linked here,…

    …so while I was here and reading, I found a quote for another new page (lacking a transcript of a recording), and added it there:

    That will be at least one live link, and maybe two or three.

    ALSO! Someone had asked about college. At the time, no, but now Marty (the middle one) has a bachelor’s degree in economics and geography. The oldest was offered a job with Honeywell. It requires a degree, but they waived it. He’s doing computer tech. The youngest works on a vegetable farm and loves it. They’re all in their 30s now, and I have five grandkids (by the boys, not by #3/Holly).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *