Monday, September 24, 2018

"Can you explain calm?"

Calm is calm. Not frantic, not excited, not frightened or frightening. Calm, like water that is neither frozen nor choppy.

Calm is possessing the ability to think, to consider a situation without panic.

Calm is not perpetually on the edge of flipping out.

That and some discussion of how to be calmer
photo by Heather Booth

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Happiness is good for health

"Happiness is good for health! If something that makes a kid happy is deemed unhealthy by a parent, it will create stress and division. That kind of stress is NOT healthy. That kind of division works against the kind of relationship between parent and child that makes unschooling awesome!"
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Sylvia Woodman

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Happy, calm and loving

"Don't bring all the scary, negative and dark stories from the internet into your home. It will make your home and your lives scary, negative and dark. The most important thing you can do for your children's health is to provide them with a happy, calm and loving home."
—Eva Witsel
photo by Colleen Prieto

Friday, September 21, 2018


The words people use will make or break their understanding.
photo by Lisa Celedon

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Growth is good

Principles are beliefs, touchstones, things a person bases decisions around.

The idea that one can't make a choice without considering two or more options isn't a principle. It's a logical fact.

The idea that choices can lead a person nearer to the way she wants to be might be the principle that growth is good and growth is possible.
photo by Noor JontryMasterson

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The world changes slowly

The world changes slowly, but it tends to stay changed! Flight was not possible before balloons. Food storage and transportation were difficult before canning and refrigeration. Without today’s wealth of books, videos and online information, home learning would be much more difficult. We can live in the light of our shared knowledge and ideas, in freedom and with confidence, at the cutting edge of education’s future.
photo by Sandra Dodd; a hot air balloon visible out our back gate

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Near and far

This apple was in yesterday's post. I didn't move it, I moved the camera.

That's my sister, on stage, singing and playing guitar. She isn't doing that all the time, but she was then.

It seems there are no people listening. There were a hundred of them, but mostly behind me, and outside the tent.

What any one of us sees isn't everything there is to see.
Here and there
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, September 17, 2018

Unexpected thoughts

Juxtapositions, surprising connections, odd pairings—these make jokes, or frighten cats, or confuse us long enough for our brains to reach out for explanations we hadn't thought anything about before.

The connections might be visual, historical, linguistic, musical, real or imaginary. None of that matters, when your mind builds a new idea, and it's yours to keep.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gentle peace and patience

Struggling is harmful. Don't struggle.

And don't "just" relax, relaxing blindly, but relax into new knowledge of the value of gentle peace and patience.
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Saturday, September 15, 2018

How had I done this?

Little by little, years ago, I started to see that each little idea that had changed my own family had the potential, if I could explain it clearly enough, to change another family. Just a little was enough. As more and more families shared their successes and joys, the world changed. As more information was gathered and put where others could find it, the rate of change increased.

When I was first unschooling, we waited two months for a new issues of Growing Without Schooling. There was no internet discussion at all. When that began, a few years later, it was user groups, not even e-mail or webpages yet. Today someone can get more information about unschooling in one day than existed in the whole world when my oldest was five. I'm glad to have been part of honing, polishing, clarifying and gathering those ideas, stories and examples, and keeping them where others have quick access to them.
photo by Lisa Celedon

Friday, September 14, 2018


May you have peaceful days of abundant love and light
photo by Zoya Bharadwaj

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Curiosity and Joy

Be the kind of person you want your child to be. Nurture your own curiosity and joy. Find gratitude and abundance. Explore. Make connections, on your own. (video and transcript)
or maybe They just like it.
photo by Kristy Hinds

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The mysteries of the world

Being new to the world, and you being his host (and partner), any light you can shed on the mysteries of the world, and any clues you can give him on what's likely to happen and what's expected of him would be good for all concerned. Advise him what might happen at a wedding reception, or a birthday party, or at a place he's never been to before. Show him how to eat a new food he hasn't seen. Help put him at ease if he's nervous. Provide him all the coaching and reassurance he wants, and no more than he wants.
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Flowing, clear, refreshed and alive

Parents should keep life flowing, clear, refreshed and alive.
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, September 10, 2018

A distant tree

Come into my thoughts a minute, just a little.

"The tree was framed by this doorway." But the doorway was just sitting there, before the tree first grew. They both are there, all the time, now. What framed the tree was where I was standing when I saw how pretty it looked, and took the photo in such a way that the whole tree showed, and the whole doorway showed. Distance mattered. My height mattered.

Many relationships between things, between places, or people, depend on the perspective or the effect of another person. Surely the perception of two things changes, depending on many factors.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Avebury

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Blending in

I noticed, because it was exotic. I was far from home.

Birds where I live, I can easily ignore.

People want to blend in, not to be seen as different. That's why sometimes unschoolers would like to be around other unschoolers, so they're not noticed so much. It's understandable.

Sometimes, if you have the energy, even though it might be more work, be willing to be noticeably exotic.

Learn and be an example
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Avebury

Saturday, September 8, 2018

From a different place

"Your perspective will change when you've experienced new things, seen the world from a different place."
—Debbie Regan
photo (click it) by Annie Regan (no relation, except in the ideas!)

Friday, September 7, 2018

The up side...

It's easy to think our "up" is everyone's up, and our focus is the obvious way of seeing. Let your children see in their own ways, and if you're lucky they will share with you.

"What's up?" can have a special new meaning.

Thinking and choosing (also upside down)
photo by Karen James

Thursday, September 6, 2018

In a moment

"It helps a lot to try for better moments not days. Don't judge a day by one upset, judge it as a bad moment and move forward. A little bit better each moment. A little bit more aware."
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Seeing through

Most of what happens in the world, I will never see.

Most of what happens in my own back yard, I don't see.

Most of what I see, I don't understand, or fully consider. That's the way the world is. That's the way people are.

You will see some beauty.
You will understand some things.
photo by Kristy Hinds
So much, in that photo!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Simple advice

"The advice that has helped the most has been the simplest. Be present. Be helpful. Be kind."
—Virginia Warren
Chat on "getting it," August 2014
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Monday, September 3, 2018

Magical and transformed

Parental encouragement, smiles, acceptance and support are what turn plain or unsettled life into magical and transformed shared lives.
"Getting it"
photo by Lisa Celedon

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Eight Light Years!

Okay, eight years. Lots of light, but slowed down Earth years. Slowed down-to-Earth years.

September 2 is Just Add Light and Stir's anniversary!

May the richness and riches of this trove of words and photos seep into your soul and give you sweet dreams and good ideas.
Airy and Bright
Homely home-made cake, and photo, by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The abundance of possibilities

"Unschooling is about living in the abundance of possibilities, not in fear of somehow not fitting the mold. It's been remarkable to me to see where natural learning can take a person. For me, after ten years of unschooling our son, it has become a kind of celebration of human potential."
—Karen James
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, August 31, 2018

Sources and resources

Learn however and whenever you can, and remember no one person has everything you need.

Movies that Influenced Me
screenshot from Searching for Bobby Fischer

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rich and full

Karen James wrote:
The most wonderful thing (to me) about unschooling is that we can support our children's growth, development, and learning in ways that embrace and nurture who they are as whole people with all their strengths and limitations. Our children can learn to live a rich and full life not in spite of where they fall short, but in celebration of where they find meaning and purpose and useful practice of skills they've come to own through a deeper understanding of who they are and what they care to spend their time and energy doing.
—Karen James
photo by Hema Bharadwaj

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Supplies for parents

Unschooling doesn't work out for every family, for various reasons. In a conversation, an unschooling mom said some families don't have the time, money and benevolent patience it takes to unschool. I thought it was a good checklist of needs: Time, money and benevolent patience.
What it takes
photo by Sandra, of Alex Polikowsky's son and a snowman as big as he was

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Karen James:
   Your kids will learn to respect you
   when they come to understand
   from experience
   what respect feels like to them.

Sandra Dodd:
   It can't happen all at once,
   but without taking the first steps,
   and the next,
   it will never happen.
photo by Amber Ivey

Monday, August 27, 2018

Gradually building

In our home, everything we do is an opportunity to learn something new or to make a new connection to something familiar, allowing each of us to gradually build on our unique understanding of the world."
—Karen James
photo by Jo Isaac

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Change a few little things

Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life.
photo by Marty Dodd, of an beautifully cast and enamelled antique slot machine

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Don't look for rules. Look for principles. You want your children to fit in politely in situations they're about to find themselves in. There's no reason to coach them about how to act at a wedding unless they're about to go to one. Then there are LOTS of things they might need to know, depending on their age.
photo by Celeste Burke

Friday, August 24, 2018

Life is fairly unfair

Who's responsible for making life fair? Where and when has life been fair, and can we produce that condition again?

Parents try to be fair with their children, and sometimes do it by counting and measuring the time and money they put toward one child and another, but is it "fair" to give an introverted child who isn't needy the same amount of attention one might give an unsettled, hyper, talkative kid with the urge to collect something that costs money?

Fairness (where people had complained about homeschoolers)
Individual needs (which is soothing)
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Part of being present!

Solve problems before they become problems. Notice the direction things are heading and change things. Don't let them get hungry, tired, testy to the point where they're hitting or destroying things. Food. Naps. Go home. Put on a video. Draw one away to do something totally different.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Chrissy Florence

Options beyond

Children and parents both will find many choices, crossroads, options and surprises as life unfolds.

We see an opportunity, or a passageway, or a place to sit for a moment, but we can't know what the effect will be of choosing that or opting out.

Living with curiosity and joy, acceptance and calm, will help you through surprises and through lulls. There will be other paths to take, other places to rest.
photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Real respect

Some people confuse respect and courtesy. Some people confuse nicey-niceness with respect. But real respect changes action and affects decisions.
. . . .

Respect can be shown sometimes by being quiet. Sometimes it can be shown by thinking about what someone says and not dismissing it half-heard.
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, August 20, 2018

Ideas about unschooling

Writing about my writing:

I’m trying to pick ideas up and turn them over and see if they work, how they work, how they might be tweaked to work better.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Breathe, open, flush

Change your thoughts so that gratitude is with you all day. Make your decisions with gratitude in mind. Breathe in gratitude when you take a breath to think of what to do next. Open the refrigerator door with gratitude that it's not empty. Flush the toilet with gratitude that you have plumbing.
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Let go and look

Joyce wrote:
You can learn a lot by letting go of what you think you're seeing and really look.

"Don't fear your children's happiness, excitement and enthusiasm. Your kids are already experts on learning. You knew it all once too. But it's gotten buried beneath layers of "expert" ideas on how and what kids need to learn *in school*. You can learn a lot by letting go of what you think you're seeing and really look."
—Joyce Fetteroll
The quote was a light in a darker discussion.
Read more by Joyce here:
photo by Karen James

Friday, August 17, 2018

All of the days

Q: How will you know if they're learning?

A: Teachers need to measure and document because they need to show progress so they can get paid, and keep their jobs. They test and measure because they don't always know each child well.

Parents know a child is learning because they're seeing and discussing and doing things together every day. Not five days a week, or most of the year, but all of the days of their whole lives.
photo by Sarah Lawson

Thursday, August 16, 2018

High, low or average... (Don't ask.)

Of all the things I believe strongly, one that has changed my life as profoundly as any one other belief is my personal knowledge that test scores can and do (can't fail to) affect the treatment a child receives at his parents' hands. High scores, low scores, average scores—no matter.
Parents cease to treat the child as his original, known self and color him soul deep with that number.

My life would have been different. My husband's life would have been different, without those 5th and 8th grade ITBS scores. I venture to say without even knowing who is reading this that your life would have been different, and specifically I believe your life would have been better, had not you been branded with a number on your "permanent record" (there's a big mean scary joke, the "permanence" and important parts) as a young innocent ten or thirteen year old full of potential, at some unknown point on a learning curve that might soon be at its settled-out level, or might just be beginning.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Random efficiency

Unschooling is a way to homeschool, but without the schoolishness. Things can be learned in whatever order they come along, and the learner will eventually connect all the information he has gathered, but maybe not in the same way or in the same order as the assembly line would have had him do it.
Shockingly efficient
photo by Kristy Hinds

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Actually seeing it

Q:  How can families transition from more traditional methods of education to an unschooling approach?

A:  Unschooling involves seeing the world in a different way. Sometimes formal homeschooling families do some deschooling, but when switching to unschooling, more and different deschooling is needed, especially for the parents who have been involved in school and teaching and defending schooling for probably 20 or 30 years. The kids will be ready to unschool before the parents, usually.
It would help to be in contact with other unschoolers at playgroups or on the internet, and to meet unschooling families with children of various ages. It's difficult to imagine it, so it's easier to actually see it.

This new way of seeing the world involves seeing music in history, and science in geography, and art in math, and not talking about it. The last part is the hardest part.

I don't mean never talk about it. I mean don't say "Oooh, look! Science!" Once a person knows science is everywhere, and everything is connected to everything else, there will be nothing to talk about except the topic at hand, or where they're going or what they're seeing. The learning will happen without being labeled and sorted out. The labeling and sorting can prevent learning.
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, August 13, 2018

Keep learning

We don't know what our kids are thinking about what they're watching, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling in their lives. And we don't need to know. It does help for us to keep learning, too, ourselves, so we have more confidence that they're learning.
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, August 12, 2018

No assembly required

My favorite definition of unschooling is providing an environment in which learning can flourish. School prescribes what should be learned, and in what order. Then they build an assembly line, and put all the students on it. The reward those who get through easily, and punish others. School at home is like an assembly line for one.

Learning for Fun: Interview with Sandra Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd, in an antique shop,
in Ashford, Surrey

Saturday, August 11, 2018

He will learn.

When a child’s life is full of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, people and places, he will learn. When he feels safe and loved, he will learn. When parents begin to recover from their own ideas of what learning should look like (what they remember from school), then they begin a new life of natural learning, too.
a 2012 interview at Mommy-Labs
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 10, 2018

Creating problems

The idea that one can make a sacrifice to assure future success is ancient among humans, isn't it?

Deprivation doesn't create appreciation. It creates some or all of desire, neediness, curiosity, fascination, resentment, obsession, anger...
What have you sacrificed?
photo by Karen James

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A dynamic tapestry

Karen James wrote:

What I've discovered about my son's learning (about my own as well) is that it's a tapestry of experiences that weave themselves over time, with some threads longer than others, with some threads connecting in surprising places, with gaps that aren't holes but rather spaces that make way for new connections and patterns to take shape. It's dynamic and forever growing and changing. One simple exposure to something today can lead to some bigger exploration years down the road. Or something that seemed all-consuming one moment can be a mere whisper of influence the next.
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

There and aware

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Conventional parenting is not about being present with kids. It's about giving kids rules as a replacement for being there. Same can go for information. Information shouldn't be a substitute for being there and being aware.
We should let kids know that cars can hurt them, which is why we steer them clear of the street. But we shouldn't then depend on kids understanding. We need to be there. We need to be aware of our child's tendencies to run to the street when in that type of situation. We need to avoid as much as we can places where they can run into the street until they can understand.
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Goals and vehicles

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Unschooling shouldn't be a goal. It's a vehicle that's well suited for getting to particular goals. Some of those goals are joyful living, whole children, learning through interests
Unschooling isn't the only vehicle that can get to those goals. And those aren't the only goals.

There's more of that, at this page:
and the ideas are good for non-single parents, too.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 6, 2018

Leaping and dancing

It's bad to make a religion of unschooling.
It's good to see all the logic and practicality in it, and to incorporate things gradually until the awkward first steps turn to confident strides and then to leaping and dancing in the dark.
Happy Logic
photo by Sandra Dodd


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