Potluck with Sandra Dodd

We went, as a family, to a potluck at Amy Child’s house on Wednesday. It was a full house but not so many people as she probably gets in conferences and such. This was an intimate setting and an opportunity to meet and talk face to face with a major force and voice of unschooling. She is soon marking 25 years of unschooling experience–that includes decades of hearing and gathering stories and experiences of thousands across the nation.

Sandra Dodd, in my experience, was a true advocate for unschooling. She said many things that I already believed and understood, but what surprised me was her inherent belief in attachment parenting and her description of it. Here’s a simulation of how it went when I got a chance to ask my question:

Me: How important is it to be there on the ground playing with your child and the object they are playing with; some people look at me funny when I let my child walk around and interact with her world on her own without following her around.

SandraDodd: Is she clear about communicating what she needs?

Me: Yes, incredibly clear.

SandraDodd: If she is communicating with you, then I would trust her to come get you when she needs you. [She is looking at me breastfeeding my child in an Ergo baby carrier.] When you attachment parent, you usually know your kids needs. [Pause.] And I mean attachment parenting of the 70s when it meant simply:

  • When your child wants to be picked up, pick them up

  • When they want to be put down, put them down

  • When they want in your bed, let them in the bed

  • It’s about respecting them and allowing them a voice

This all seems logical, but I was struck by the fact that she so naturally went from unschooling to attachment parenting — two things previously separated in my mind. It made me realize that my philosophy about both raising my child and “educating” her are the same. I trust my child’s innate curiosity and drive to learn through play. I will do by best to nurture those by creating a rich environment for her to explore and discover independently and with me.

5 responses to this post.

  1. I am way into this idea of unschooling, and I can see the connection between attachment parenting and unschooling. Very cool post.


  2. Oh! I just found this. Nice! I’m glad to see photos of that night.

    Twenty-five years parenting, but twenty years unschooling. And my experience with attachment parenting is from the 1980’s. Close enough for 2011, all of that. πŸ™‚

    Another quibble: “hearing and gathering stories and experiences of thousands across the nation.” Not just the U.S.

    I’m glad I said something worth remembering that night. The energy was odd and I was tired, but it was also kind of electric and warm and confusing.


  3. […] to stop labeling my children (even “3 year old” is a label, says unschooling advocate Sandra Dodd). My children are capable of more than we are both conscious of in the moment. If we are to nurture […]


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