Explore graphic:original artwork copyright Carrie Svozil



E is for Explore was written more than a year ago.

But as we get ready for the book, I have some new ideas.

First, there is a new beautiful graphic by Carrie Svozil.

And  I have some more thoughts about what you might explore.

Explore new options and possibilities.

Explore a variety of paths and potential solutions before making a decision.

Explore on your own.

Explore with friends or partners,  locally or virtually.

Explore new ways to learn, connect,  and put yourself out in the world.


Some samples of my recent explorations:

I’ve been exploring  online by learning with Creative Live classes, following new interesting folks on twitter, and trying to participate in conversations in Facebook groups.

I’ve been exploring learning  in real life with Carrie  as we work on the ABC book,  with  our fabulous ukulele group and  with making myself get into the city to  meet up with Dale and the Uncollege  crew or Thiel Fellows  whenever invited.

I’ve been exploring the bigger world  in travels with my hubby in hiking, in eating, and camping.

I’ve been exploring  alternative ways of eating and healing.

I’ve been exploring new and scary territories of being an empty nester, a solopreneur,  a post-50 mama ready to have her  say. I’m having so much fun learning and exploring!

How about you? What are you exploring these days? Please tell me in the comments.

If you want to keep hearing about the book progress, or keep up with other new  resources or happenings,  sign up for email updates.

Please share the explorations with friends.

Thanks so much, Lisa



The Problem with “Quality Time”

View from giant clock in Paris Orsay Museum. Photo copyright Lisa NalboneI believe in QUANTITY time.

Quantity time — where you are fully present while doing ordinary things together that need to be done.

Your presence and attention, while doing any daily activity, are what your children need.It shows that you think they matter.  It can help reduce stress. For you and them. No matter how little time you have.

It’s easy to see why the “quality time” fantasy took root.

Many parents have crazy schedules. They might be balancing demanding jobs and projects on top of family obligations. And what about continued learning and a social life for parents?

Somehow we got this idea that we should  DO or HAVE it all. We may think we deserve to have it all, so if we take the kids to special places in the hopes of having “quality time,”  we can have it all.

Guess what? You can’t.

You are going to have to prioritize, compromise and even, gasp, sacrifice.

Even if you didn’t realize it, not enough time is what you signed up for when you had a child.

The “quality time” fix is a fantasy. So, get over it.

Put on your big girl or boy panties and buck up. How?

  1. Prioritize spending time with your kids. Work on increasing time when you can. There is no way to get  back time that you miss. 
  2. Make quantity time count. 
  3.  Do things WITH your kids.

Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking,  cleaning, gardening, paying bills, housework, washing the car, running errands, exercising.

While you are doing these ordinary activities you also: talk. listen. be silly, laugh, explain. You connect. You model how to be the kind of person that makes a family and a  community stronger.

You give them a chance to build their can-do mindset.

With your presence and attention you turn whatever limited time there is,  in the car, taking a walk, doing chores, into a shared experience that has the power to teach and express love. To remind someone they belong.


  • At first, things take longer than when you did them by yourself
  • You may encounter resistance, whining, complaining.
  • Time for yourself will still be an issue.
  • Change is hard.


Don’t Give Up!

Getting through the uncomfortable transition as you learn together how a family operates and how the kids can contribute is worth it.

Kids gain skills, competence, understanding and responsibility. You gain more time with your kids.

There are hidden gems that get shined and uncovered during golden hours of working together. You can indulge in opportunities for laughter, discussion and connection that never would have happened if you were “taking care of business” alone.

So, even though you STILL won’t have enough time for yourself, and some things may get overlooked, and you may need to overcome resistance, it’s worth it.

You will cherish the time spent with your kids once they have flown the nest. While there are moments as a parent that feel endless, our time with our children is too short.


So, find ways to increase your quantity time.

And then, make your quantity time count.

What do you say? Tell me on twitter @lisanalbone or email me at learningbeyondschool@gmail.com.

I’d really appreciate if you would sign up for email updates and pass this post on to a friend. Thanks, Lisa.




What’s the Key to Trust?



In August I presented at the  2013 Inaugural, Virtual and Free Homeschool Conference. There were  8 great keynote addresses, 48 presentations, and 1600 registrants.

No worries if you missed the date. All sessions were recorded and are available. The link to the conference homepage is here.

Even though I’ve been working through the ABC’s of Learning Beyond School in alphabetical order, I decided that those considering taking the leap to take control of their education really need to start with the letter T.   Because T is for Trust.

I decided to publish my slides and notes here on the blog in case you are a reader rather than a listener, or want a quick way to take a look. These are just notes, so you will have to listen to the session if you want to know what I actually said : – ).


#1. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here today.

My name is Lisa Nalbone and I love to learn, teach and help others take learning into their own hands and take action.

I was a public school teacher before I took the scary leap into homeschooling when after fifth grade my child said he wanted to drop out of school and learn in a different way.

Slide 2 of T is for Trust Presentation # 2. We were scared.

We were out of our comfort zone and full of angst. (this poem, August Angst which you can find on my website,  comes from real life) We went quickly from  school at home to homeschooling to unschooling. And I’m here to tell you, it works. It can be done.  It may not end up like you plan.

Slide 3 T is for Trust Presentation

# 3.  My proof that it works

Even though we were warned about socialization problems, academic issues, all kinds of problems- it turned out ok.

Dale has friends, of all ages , all over

Wrote  a book Hacking your Education, published by Penguin

Was a one of the first group of Thiel fellows.

Founded UnCollege.

So you can start with funny little kid who stutters from a small farm town and by giving him the freedom and ability to direct his own learning, and surprise, he is speaking to the world.

Slide 4


#4.  Why?   Our Mission  How?

Why?  Lots of problems in the world that need solving.

I want to see Non-violence, world peace through social justice, taking responsibility, gratitude and joy

Seen too many times when

1. people  don’t vaule their own gifts, think they can’t take action, have any power, and don’t have any resources to solve their problems  and

2. people who do have resources won’t help or take a stand

I worked really hard to help my classroom students to understand that they were in charge of their learning and that they had to engage and  CARE for themselves and the world.

But really hit home when my insatiably curious child who loved to tackle projects and worked really hard at things he cared about came home from school totally disinterested in doing any more than the minimum that teacher required. Uh -oh. Big Trouble.

Our Mission :  raise and foster active, creative engaged learners who confidently contribute and take action to make the world a better place.

We need to reclaim learning for ourselves and our children!


You can do it.  It’s both easier and harder than you think – because we have to work on ourselves.

Most important begins with our, mindset and approach to learning and children

Even though I’ve written the entire alphabet for learning beyond school,

You really need to start with the letter T, because

T is for trust slide, www.lisanalbone.com

#5.  T is for Trust  – Trusting is a radical act

Trust that you can create the space for learning- in terms of time, physical, mental, emotional and that we can all learn.

Trust Yourself

 #6. Trust yourself 

Trust and listen to  your intuition, that inner voice, your gut.

Even when it is hard because most people disagree. When a loved one disagrees. Or an authority figure.

This is not alway easy to do.  I learned this lesson the hard way. By not listening to my inner voice and acting on it,  I almost died.  When my son was in first grade I was thrilled to be pregnant again. But then I started feeling off.  I told docs I didn’t feel like I had with my other miscarriages, that something was wrong. But quietly. I didn’t push back when they suggested  just emotions or constipation. The next day I woke up in the hospital with the doctor sitting beside me, holding my hand, apologizing.  “I’m sorry, we almost lost you.”

It was scary — eye opener. bottom line:  Trust yourself.



Slide 7: Trust Your Children

#7.  Trust your Children 

Trust in their ability to grow, learn to know themselves and their feelings.

It is hard to buck society and culture and trust our children.

Trust is not blind, unquestioning, with no thought, guidance or limits-

Trust is not abdicating responsibility

WE  made  mistake of not trusting Dale more than once.  Embarrassing personal story: Dale  in kinder jumping on bed. fell off howling. He tended to be dramatic, ie bellow and moan like crazy at splinters.

WE said, No worries, you’ll be ok.  “But ,Mommy, it really hurts.”

Next morning, his arm is hanging  funny. Broken. Surgery.  Guilt. Parent fail.

Trust children.

Luckily I had learned to trust him by the time he wanted out of school. Thank goodness. He knew what he needed.


Trust Others

#8.  Trust  others. 

Trust that others have good intentions but you may still choose to trust your own voice and decisions.

Trust others: welcoming the power of community is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your children You can find support,  solace, mentoring,  fun .

It took a huge amount of trusting others to let my son live in a small village in France.  The rewards are so worth it.   Trust Others.


Trust the process slide with self -directed learning process graphic

#9. Trust the Process 

Trust that with intention, questioning, hard work and showing up you can always keep learning.

Go through the self-directed learning cycle again and again.

Things may not unfold as you foresee.   Be open to multiple options,  change course .

Be open to how many different ways there are to learn something

Question -start with learner’s question, curiosity, interests

Learning Project – defined by learner can be many different types of  projects

Share – document, take into world, take action,

Self-evaluate – did I meet my goals?  criteria? what next? 

Find learning in new ways: examples:

1. Who knew that from  volunteering  my stuttering 6 year old who really wanted to make the announcements at the annual holiday event would turn into a professional  speaker

2. Letting go of writing curriculum, the way WE learned to write and trying to make writing fun would lead to Dale bec oming the author of Hacking Your Education.



Process Slide with challenges, hardship, confusion

#10. Trust that  you will encounter challenges, hardship, and confusion.

Family illness,  financial issues, friends dropping us –

Confusion, Second guessing, worry  – are we doing right thing?

During period where I was unsure about having Dale do more “AP”  and other traditional  high school courses I attended HSC conference. -After a session with successful grown unschoolers I got to speak with one of the moms about my dilemma. She  asked me,

 “Why would you ever want to turn this opportunity for freedom and letting your child really get to know himself, become an expert and shine into fitting into the  same mold that everyone else does in school. Why not just have him go to school. What’s the point?”

Even with challenges, trust that if you are honest, present, pay attention and listen you can figure out your next step.

Trust the process.

What does Trust require?

  #11.  But what does trust require? 

A lot.  Trust requires 4 key components and  underlying approaches.



Key - Be Honest Slide

#12.  Be honest 

in all you do

about who you are, your biases, expectations, blindspots, strengths and weakness

about who your child  really is, and child’s strengths, weaknesses, foibles

about why you  do things or don’t do them

no excuses



#13. Embrace 

After all that honesty you must embrace who you and  who your children are

accept them for who they really are

Embrace empathy, allow them to be different

be WITH them in their journey

Embrace uncertainty,  failure, mistakes

Embrace unconditional love


Let go

  #14.  Let Go

Oh this one can be really hard!

Let go of your expectations of who you think they should be

Let go of control , power,  perfection

let go and get out of their way   and let them try things

let go of being sage on the stage

of being embarrassed and guilt (not responsibility)

let go of knowing how it will all  turn out



What's the key to trust? Model. www.lisanalbone.com


#15. Model 

last but not least

The most powerful way you have to teach is to model or as someone once said

be the change you want to see in the world

Model :

values,  honesty, integrity

growth mindset – ability to learn,grow, improve

problem solving  creating space helping others flow, joy, inner peace

enjoying hard work and tackling challenges

figuring things out  and a  can do attitude

finding resources

reaching out to help others and  getting help when needed

connecting and building community

Modeling is extremely powerful and if you aren’t careful, for better or worse,  you can model things you are not aware of, or may not intend.

Trust unlocked with complete key - be honest, embrace, let go, model


#16 Here is the Key:  Be honest, embrace, let go,  and model

They key to developing self-directed learners, good citizens, and changemakers.

They key to engaged learning and great relationships.

You can do it. You can choose.

You have the power to take the key and take action.

To unlock learning.

To  Trust.

Don’t worry. Start learning.






Thank you, for reading and thanks to Carrie Svozil for the beautiful original artwork for the slide deck and the upcoming ABC’s Book.

Ending slide with htank you and contact information for Lisa Nalbone

Please subscribe to the email list to receive updates about the book, new blog posts and resources.

Please share the information with those who need encouragement.

Thank you so much! Lisa

I Can’t Learn One More Thing!

Did you ever have a day or time in your life when your brain felt so full and the learning was so demanding that you just might explode?

You’re ready to yell, “I can’t learn one more thing!”


Many years ago, in the office of Armistice ( a community organization in Seattle  working on peace and social justice issues), I had one of those days.

This was my post-university passion, primarily volunteer work, that had absolutely nothing to do with my botany degree and did not help to pay off my student loans.

But it was work that I cared about, made me feel alive, and had me learning more in less than a year than I learned in my whole 4 years of college.

This work inspired me. I was on fire with a need to change the world. Heck, by opposing nuclear weapons we were trying to save the WHOLE world!

In the space of a few months I learned to:

  • facilitate meetings
  • speak in public
  • lead community workshops
  • coordinate volunteers
  • curate and manage resources
  • write press releases
  • layout newsletters
  • build and manage membership.

And this was back in the dark ages before email, laptops and even desk-top computers. Everything was done the slow, old-fashioned. Even answering machines were new! It was engaging, challenging, exciting, rewarding and felt like it mattered. I loved what I was doing.

But one day, I lost it.

Ruth, a friend, mentor and comrade, gave me a new challenge. Something else I had never even imagined myself doing. And I BELLOWED, throwing my hands in the air —


Shocking really, since I usually had to be encouraged to speak up. But, I had hit the wall. Fortunately I had friends/mentors, Ruth and Rosemary, who had my back.

.I can't Learn One More thing, The Power of Passion and Support. www.LisaNalbone.com  original photo of three ukuleles learning together above the music Stand By Me.
Stand by me.

The Power of  Passion and Support

Ruth gave Rosemary a knowing look and they swung into action. They whisked me away to the Chinese restaurant next to the office and plied me with food and martinis. They deposited me at my apartment and told me to sleep.

While I napped, they called on their network and found me a place to have a mini-retreat. They picked me up a few hours later, packed my bag and “kidnapped” me. They dropped me off at some kind of retreat center on Hood Canal, with no phone, no electronics, nothing but shelter (a dorm of some sort with kitchen), some food and a beach. I was admonished to sleep, walk, breathe and just BE, not do.

I was left to myself for a few days. I slept, cried, walked, sat and stared at the water and breathed. And did it all again.

Ruth and Rosemary came to pick me up and stayed the night.  They brought food and wine and chocolate. We had time to talk, eat and laugh together and process.  They shared their tips on: how to balance the passion, intensity and commitment to social change with having a life; how to prevent getting to the “losing it” point; and the value of believing that the process is just as important as the product.

Thinking back to those days, when I truly believed our non-violent actions were critical to the world’s survival, is sort of embarrassing.  But this experience taught me the power of heartfelt passion for taking the risks of new learning.

Like many of our most powerful learning experiences, none of the work in those years was in a classroom or directed or sanctioned by any authority. The work — vision, friendships, mentors, community– changed my life.

And I experienced the power of support.

 We absolutely need supporters and truth-tellers in our lives who are honest, who challenge us to be more, and who hold us when we need to rest, who help us learn and live.

Especially on the days we feel we can’t learn one more thing.


The friendships endured.

When I visit with Rosemary, however briefly, time disappears, and our honest conversations inspire us both to take on new learning and challenges. Ruth is no longer sharing the earth and I especially miss her savvy political commentary and what we called “talking like God.”  She had incredible ideas about what should be done. She gave honest, often biting critique, but also knew how to encourage.

They both helped me find my passion and my voice.

Who helps you find yours?