Nice quote

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." Neil Gaimon

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maine’s Department of Education, University launch first statewide autism resource, research institute
The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research will support educators and other professionals in better serving the thousands of children in the state with autism spectrum disorder

AUGUSTA – Mainers who serve children with autism and their families will soon have a statewide system of supports.
The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER), a partnership of the Maine Department of Education and the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, will open on Jan. 1 at the UMaine campus. The two organizations have committed to contribute a total of $288,000 to fund the first 18 months of the new collaborative.
Deborah Rooks-Ellis, an assistant professor of Special Education at UMaine, will serve as the institute’s full-time director, overseeing its efforts to build statewide capacity to improve outcomes for children with autism.
MAIER will be the state’s primary resource for leadership, training, professional development and technical assistance for evidence-based and promising practices for professionals working with children with autism and their families, as well as post-secondary students aspiring to serve children, families, schools and community service providers. The institute will also provide Maine’s families with services, support and resources to increase their understanding of autism and their ability to help their children with autism live productive lives.
Planned activities of the institute are extensive and include developing roadmaps to navigate services from birth to adulthood, providing family to family mentoring, hosting a clearinghouse of information including an events calendar, putting on professional development workshops and webinars, and strengthening existing regional collaboratives.
Autism is a developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason and to interact with others, with varying degrees of severity. It is the third most common developmental disability, occurring in approximately one out of every 88 births according to the Autism Society of Maine.
“This is an incredible step forward in Maine’s ability to ensure children with autism and their loved ones are well-served,” said Maine DOE Director of Special Services Jan Breton.  “For many Maine families, the services this institute will directly provide and support will greatly increase the quality of life they and their children with autism will experience in our state.  From day one, the hope and help we are able to provide through the institute will make a meaningful difference in the lives of so many Maine people.”
Most notable is the coordinated support MAIER will provide to Maine’s K-12 public schools, which currently enroll about 2,600 students with autism, Breton said. Doing so will further Maine DOE’s commitment to ensuring the state’s schools serve all students and that educators and parents have access to research-based educational tools that support the teaching of children with disabilities.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this coordinated effort,” said Professor Rooks-Ellis. "In addition to providing families and children with autism resources, information and tools to contribute to awareness, the Maine Autism Institute for Research and Education will serve as the primary source of education and training for professionals working with children and families and for undergraduate and graduate students aspiring to serve children with autism spectrum disorders, and their families, schools and communities.”
The announcement of MAIER, made last week at the annual conference for the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities, came just days after MaineHealth’s Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook revealed it had received a $1.2 million grant to study severe causes of autism.
For more information about the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research, visit or contact 207-581-2352.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Joyce Fetteroll's "Unschooling Toolbox Cards "

The Unschooling Toolbox is a set of 48 business-sized cards, each with an unschooling idea on front *and* back (so 96 thoughts total), plus a magnet.

Each day pull out a new card and attach it with the magnet somewhere you'll run across it several times a day (like your refrigerator).

The deluxe version comes with a tea tin and has a memory stone to carry in your pocket. So if there's an idea you're having trouble remembering to do in the moment, you put the memory stone in your pocket to remind you.

Some sample Unschooling Toolbox ideas.

* The right answer isn’t as important as trying things out to discover what is right for them.
* If they can’t say no, then you aren’t really asking.
* Build meeting your own needs into your day. You have that power!
* Unschooling is about creating an environment in which natural learning can flourish. — Sandra Dodd
* Why not?

Two options for the cards (WITHOUT the tea tin and stone):

$7 for buff/oak tag/manila folder color card stock (limited supply)

$10 for brightly-hued card stock (colors vary). (They're also available bilingual in English/Portuguese, translated by Marta Pires and Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky.)

$5 extra (for postage) for tea tin and stone **WHEN** Joyce gets some more tea tins

Contact Joyce if you're interested:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Is School Enough" Video

This video was suggested by Kim Williams - It is great!  Thank you Kim!!  -

I saw this video link through an article on Village Soup about Hope Elephants. It aired on PBS a couple of weeks ago. The fact that it includes Hope Elephants is just a little bonus! It highlights some really fascinating kids that are following what they are passionate about and are unable to accomplish through traditional schooling methods. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy homeschooling!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roya's Dedeaux, MFTi - Exercise of the Day to help parents validate what their children love to do

Reposted with permission from Roya Dedeaux, MFTi 

Exercise of the Day: write down 3 things your child is interested in, and then write down at LEAST 25 benefits they receive from doing/watching/working/etc on that thing. Now do it for yourself.

Why? It's so hard sometimes for parents to watch their kids on that 3rd, 5th, 12th hour of something they so *clearly* enjoy, without doubting what it is they are getting from it. You making that list makes you stop and think and really be an ally to your child.

Parents who find this challenging also tend to be the ones who are hard on themselves and the time they'd like to spend on their own interests. It's validating for you, too! Give yourself, and your kids, your spouse, your friends - the respect to understand the benefits of what they love.

How to Unschool by Pam Sorooshian

Love this article!!  (Reposted with Pam's permission.  Thank you Pam!)

How to Unschool by Pam Sorooshian
1. Give your love generously and criticism sparingly. Be your children's partner. Support them and respect them. Never belittle them or their interests, no matter how superficial, unimportant, or even misguided their interests may seem to you. Be a guide, not a dictator. Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don't drag or push them. Youwillsometimes despair when your vision of what your child ought to be bangs up against the reality that they are their own person. But that same reality can also give you great joy if you learn not to cling to your own preconceived notions and expectations.
2. Provide a rich environment. Unschooled children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise you with what they know. If they are supported in following their own passions, they will build strengths upon strengths and excel in their own ways whether that is academic, artistic, athletic, interpersonal, or whichever direction that particular child develops. One thing leads to another. A passion for playing in the dirt at six can become a passion for protecting the natural environment at 16 and a career as a forest ranger as an adult. You just never know where those childhood interests will eventually lead. Be careful not to squash them; instead, nurture them.
3. Bring the world to your children and your children to the world. Revel in what brings you together as a family. Watch TV and movies and listen to music and the radio. Laugh together, cry together, be shocked together. Analyze and critique and think together about what you experience. Notice what your child loves and offer more of it, not less. What is it about particular shows that engage your child - build on that. Don't operate out of fear. Think for yourself and about your own real child. Don't be swayed by pseudo studies done on school children.
4. Surround your child with text of all kinds and he/she will learn to read. Read to them, read in front of them, help them, don't push them. Children allowed to learn on their own timetable do learn to read at widely divergent times - there is no right time for all children. Some learn to read at three years old and others at 12 or even older. It doesn't matter. Children who are not yet reading are still learning - support their learning in their own way. Pushing children to try to learn to read before they are developmentally ready is probably a major cause of long-term antipathy toward reading, at best, and reading disabilities, at worst.
5. It doesn't matter when something is learned. It is perfectly all right for a person to learn all about dinosaurs when they are 40; they don't have to learn it when they are 9. It is perfectly all right to learn to do long division at 16 - they do not have to learn that at 9, either. It does not get more difficult to learn most things later; it gets easier.
6. Don't worry about how fast or slow they are learning.Don't test them to see if they are "up to speed." If you nurture them in a supportive environment, your children will grow and learn at their own speed, and you can trust in that process. They are like seeds planted in good earth, watered and fertilized. You don't keep digging up the seeds to see if the roots are growing - that disrupts the natural growing process. Trust your children in the same way you trust seeds to sprout and seedlings to develop into strong and healthy plants.
7. Think about what is really important and keep that always in the forefront of your interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't pass on something you don't exemplify yourself. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful. Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Is that responsible? Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.
8. Let kids learn. Don't protect them or control them so much that they don't get needed experience. But, don't use the excuse of "natural consequences" to teach them a lesson. Instead, exemplify kindness and consideration. If you see a toy left lying in the driveway, don't leave it there to be run over, pick it up and set it aside because that is the kind and considerate thing to do and because kindness and consideration are values you want to pass on to your kids. Natural consequences will happen; they are inevitable. But it isn't "natural" anymore if you could have prevented it, but chose not to do so.
9. We can't always fix everything for our kids or save them from every hurt. It can be a delicate balancing act - when should we intervene, when should we stay out of the way? Empathy goes a long, long way and may often be all your child needs or wants. Be available to offer more, but let your child be your guide. Maybe your child wants guidance, ideas, support, or intervention. Maybe not. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is distraction.
10. Be sensitive to your child's interest level. Don't push activities that your child isn't interested in pursuing. Don't letyourinterests dictate your child's opportunities. If your child wants a pet, be realistic and don't demand promises that the child will take sole care for it. Plan to care for it yourself when the interest wanes. Do it cheerfully. Model the joy of caring for animals. Model kindness and helpfulness. Help a child by organizing their toys so they are easy to care for. Plan to care for them yourself much of the time, but invite your child's help in ways that are appealing. Ifyou act like you hate organizing and cleaning, why would your child want to do it? Always openly enjoy the results of caring for your possessions - take note of the extra space to play in, the ease of finding things you want, how nice it is to reach into a cupboard and find clean dishes. Enjoy housework together and don't make it a battle.
11. Don't pass on your own fears and hates about learning anything. If you hate or fear math, keep it to yourself. Act like it is the most fun thing in the world. Cuddle up and do math in the same way you cuddle up and read together. Play games, make it fun. If you can't keep your own negativity at bay, at least try to do no harm by staying out of it.
12. Don't try to "make kids think." They will think; you don't have to make them. Don't use every opportunity to force them to learn something. They will learn something at every opportunity, you don't have to force it. Don't answer a question by telling them to "look it up" or by asking them another question. If you know the answer, give it. If you don't, then help them find it. Speculating about an answer often leads to a good conversation. If your child stops seeing you as helpful when they have questions, they'll stop coming to you with their questions. Is that what you really want?
13. When you offer a child choices, be sure they are real choices. Offer them choices as often as you can. Try to limit the "have to's" as much as you can. Frequently ask yourself, "Is this really a "have to" situation or can we find some choices here?"
Pam Sorooshian and her husband, Cyrus, have three successful grown-up unschooled daughters, Roya, Roxana and Rose. Pam is on the Board of Directors of the Home School Association of California and occasionally speaks at conferences about unschooling. She is an active participant and a moderator of the AlwaysLearning Yahoo group. Herblogcontains fun math-related games and ideas as well as comments about unschooling. Pam teaches economics and runs the theater box office at Cypress Community College in Southern California.
© Pam Sorooshian
Posted with permission of the author. 
This article originally appeared as a posting on the Home School Association of California Yahoo group.

The Science of Football

It's fall to some and football season to others!

Here are some interesting links football as it relates to science.:

Traveling in the USA and Canada and some non-fiction books about various states  Lisa Cottrell-Bently wrote several books about a homeschooling family that travels to different states.  The books show "that learning can happen all the time, anywhere, and that being with your family is fun."  The books out so far are: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota.  Also available through amazon: 

Families on the road: and  

Sarah Parent's blog  

The Biegler Family's did a big cross country trip: 

Maine 4-H Programs

If you would like to become involved with a 4-H program, contact your local 4-H office to find out what groups are available. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Embracing Video Games and tv

Facebook Post by Caren Knox about feeling grateful for technology that enriches their family's lives - and about moving from limitations to abundance and expansiveness by embracing that which brings them joy - 6/2013: 
Just thinking how grateful I am for the technology that allows us to watch a show we love, years after it was on the air, as simply as clicking a few buttons. We talked last night about why we didn't watch Firefly when it was originally airing. We did have a TV when it was on, though we had lived without a TV (MY choice, forced on the guys) for almost a year right before that. I felt so virtuous, being TV-free! I felt like I was protecting myself from my "addictive nature". I felt like I was protecting Evan & Seth from marketing that would diminish their connection to their "true selves". So, wow, now I'm grateful, too, for the path that took me to fully living in the world we're in, now, rather than some fantasy/mythical world of only wooden toys, limited exposure to technology (a myth itself! How would that even be possible?!), imagination/creativity expressed only in ways I approved of, i.e., nonviolent, "nice", not based on TV shows. Grateful to be living in a world of experience, choice, richness, and joy, rather than a world of arbitrary limits, fear, keeping tallies, guilt, and control.
Watching Firefly now doesn't undo the past, doesn't erase the small world I attempted to have us live in, but every moment of happiness now helps heal the hurtful results of that attempt at limitation. It's OK to be joyful. It's OK to love what you love, even if you love TV shows, and the ease of books on a Kindle. There is space for those things AND the wooden toys AND the printed books with their tactile enjoyment AND video games AND walks in the woods AND AND AND...

Good "With the Family" blogpost titled Proximity and Technology and Relationships

Embracing Minecraft (I LOVE this page!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adventure Girls

Adventure Girls is a group for girls that meets once a month in Waterville, Maine to learn about women in the workforce in non-traditional jobs.

The website ( states: "An interactive program for girls in grades 2-6, Adventure Girls gives girls the opportunity to meet once a month with women who are defying gender stereotypes and challenging notions of what a girl or woman “should” do or be. Adventure Girls brings girls together with college mentors and women facilitators to learn how mountaineers, race car drivers, boat captains, and other daring women chose to do what they do and how they've found the courage to follow their dreams."

Dick and Jane Educational Cookies!! What will they think of next?!

They are delicious!!!  They are crisp and sort of taste like one of the girl scout cookies that I used to love!  I also love them because I am allergic to peanuts nuts and these are peanut-free and nut-free!!!

Belfast Coop (in Maine) has them, or you can check their website for other locations in the northeast.  As of now, their website states that they'll even ship to your home.

Currently there are three versions of cookies; Presidents, States and Spanish/English.


States and


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Siblings Fighting / Parents Making A Better Choice

Book Suggestions: 

"How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" 
by Faber & Mazlish

"Siblings Without Rivalry" by Faber & Mazlish 

Yahoo Group: 

Siblings Fighting -  (scroll down for free audio file)

I will attach a couple of threads about siblings and peace and list some things/posts I've saved below: 

Facebook post on siblings fighting on Radical Unschooling Info facebook group:

A page from that thread that has to do with getting enough physical activity - important for those that need to get out energy... in a positive way:

But there seems to be this assumption that kids *prefer* easy
solutions like punching their sister, or shooting someone with a gun.
That they have an innate draw to violence. And it's as if parents
believe they need to squash that innate need any way they can, not
give it any fodder to encourage it, until the kid can prove they can
suppress the desire for such choices.

Kids don't prefer to hit their sisters. They just don't have the
emotional development or the experience to get more complex solutions
to work for them. They have needs they want to meet. They need
assistance in meeting those needs in ways that are respectful. They
need to see loads and loads of peaceful solutions to their problems
before they begin grasping how to do it themselves.


Make the Better Choice
My suggestion to you is to focus on making a "better" choice each time you can. I think that was the most helpful advice I got as a parent of younger kids—it was surprisingly practical and encouraging to simply consider at least two choices and pick the better one. The next time, try to think of the one you did choose and then one other—pick the better one. If you make a choice you're unhappy with, after the fact, think then about what would have been a better choice—have that one "on hand" for next time.
Don't expect to be perfect, but expect yourself to be improving all the time.


There is a transcript of more explanation for this method of thinking of two or more things and making a conscious choice:

Don’t ever decide from one choice, you know, wait until you get two and make the better choice. And if you think “Ok, I’m either going to whack him or I’m going to yell at him,” yell at him—that was the best choice you had at that moment. And the next time, start with “yell at him."

“Ok, I'm either going to do what I did the last time or something better. I'm going to yell at him or I’m going to go in the other room for a second." Go in the other room.
And the next time, maybe your choice could be either “go in the other room” or “I’m going to take a deep breath and make a joke about it.” Make a joke.
And gradually and incrementally you come closer to the place where you want to be. Beause I don’t think anybody can just jump from a lifetime of responses and expectations and behaviors and just pick some other person and just become that person. You can’t do that.
—Sandra Dodd


Re: When siblings hit

Posted by: "Pam Sorooshian"   psoroosh

Sat Aug 1, 2009 1:27 pm (PDT)

Depends. If more hitting is likely, the first thing will be to gently as
possible physically prevent any further hitting. If the hitting is over,
not ongoing, the first thing might be to say, "Whoa - what's going on?"

Lots of times I wouldn't address the actual hitting until maybe later.
I'd help resolve whatever issue led to it. Later, I might say to the
hitter, when everything is calm, "You got so frustrated you hit your
sister." I'd wait and see what the reaction is to that. We'd just talk,
calmly, about why he did that and not something else, or maybe how it
felt just before he hit and what else he might do when he feels that way.

Exception to this would be if this is a frequent occurrence. In that
case, I might have had this conversation multiple times already and I
might have said, at some point, "When you hit, the hitting becomes the
problem, instead of what your original problem was." And, if we'd gotten
to that point, I might NOT deal with the current issue, but immediately
say, "Hitting gets in the way of problem solving." Especially if the
child is continuing to try to hit, I would not move on to trying to
discuss the current problem until the hitter was clearly ready and
willing to do that without hitting anymore.

The MAIN thing I'd do is be more present and watch for myself what is
leading up to it. Then I'd talk to the kids about what I observed and
we'd brainstorm ways to avoid it. It might be that it is over younger
kids grabbing toys away from the older ones, for example, since that's a
frequent cause of a 6 year old hitting a 4 year old. So that would be
the focus - how can the older kids have a safe place to play without the
younger ones being a nuisance?



http://sandradodd. com/moment  One bad moment doesn't need to affect the moment after thatIt can be the cause of the next moment being better.


Splash! Learning Unlimited Programs led by college students for middle and high schoolers

Learning Unlimited incubates and provides a national support structure for independent, college-student-led educational programs aimed at middle and high school students.
Splash is by far the most common Learning Unlimited program; it's a weekend-long extravaganza of classes at a local college or university, where pre-college students are invited to learn about everything and anything from passionate university students. 
If you click on the link above and scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter to find out about new programs in various states.  

General Information about Spark (for grades 7-8 only)
Spark is a short program designed to give our students the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects. MIT students and community members teach a variety of classes, from urban orienteering to mathematics to Chinese brush painting and everything in between!

Splash (for grades 9-12)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When A Child Is In School

"Guerilla Learning: How To Give Your Kids A Real Education With Or Without School" by Grace Llewelyn - Pam Sorooshian wrote  "It will help you deal with his being in school in an unconventional way" in a post on the always learning list around 4/7/2010.  Here is a link to Goodreads about the book:

School choice on Sandra Dodd's blog: 

I wrote a few blogposts about my daughter Katie who wanted to attend public school:

Ronnie Maier wrote about her daughter (who was schooled and then unschooled) trying out about six weeks of ninth grade. 

Marcia Simonds also wrote about her son choosing school: 
(Marcia's blog that is more specific about her son and school is not accessible at this time.  Will update with that link once it is able to be accessed again.  Enjoy the above one for now!) 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dental Resources / Family Medical Books / Doctors that support Attachment Parenting

Dental Yahoo Groups, books and websites:

Very Young Kids Teeth:

Dental Books:

Ramiel Nagel - Cure Tooth Decay -

Medical Related Yahoo Groups: 

AP_Doctor_Referral (helps those who practice attachment parenting to find compatible doctors and other professionals): 

Two Favorite Reference Books for Family and Medical Care: 

"Smart Medicine for Healthier Children: A Practical A-Z Reference to Natural and
Conventional Treatments for Infants and Children by Janet Zand, ND; R. Rountree, MD, and R. Walton, RN

"Raising A Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor" by Robert Mendlesohn, MD

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fundraising Books and Ideas

Hila Shooter is a homeschooler who lives in Maine and wrote a book called "Ticket to Ride" about her fundraising experiences as she raised $12,000 for a trip to Ecuador with Kroka Expeditions  She explains the different things she did to earn money and her ideas might be of assistance in brainstorming fundraising for your own adventure!
Connect with her on facebook:

Blake Boles wrote a book on fundraising called "The Unschool Adventures Guide to Online Travel Fundraising."  It is just 99 cents on Amazon
Blake founded Unschool Adventures which organizes and leads national and international trips for self-directed young adults.   

Monday, April 1, 2013

Peter Gray (Psychology Today) "My Hope for 'Free To Learn'"

Peter Gray writes a blog called "Freedom to Learn" for Psychology Today.  He often speaks at the Northeast Unschooling Conference in Wakefield, MA.  His book "Free To Learn" (same title as Pam Larrichia's book!) was published in 2013.  Check out his home page for the book:  
Link to Peter's Psychology Today blog: 

Published on Psychology Today (

My Hope for “Free to Learn”