Wednesday, February 19, 2020

All that verbal stuff...

Pam Sorooshian, on writing:

Good conversation is really writing development. Sometimes I see parents who kind of shush their kids or get obviously bored when their kids are telling them a rather long drawn-out story (like retelling a movie plot). But retelling a tv or movie plot or telling everything that happened, in order, in a video game are really great for writing. In fact, all that verbal stuff—conversation, summarizing movies, persuading or arguing, playing games, etc.—is MUCH better for developing good writing than practicing writing in the artificial ways that schools do it.
—Pam Sorooshian

Other Just Add Light and Stir posts about writing
photo by Belinda Dutch

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Remember "partnership"

Being patient and compassionate with a child who is sad or hungry or tired or maybe teething or frustrated with his friends is good. Feeling good makes you calmer and more confident. It will give you stores of calm and clarity so that you can remember that your spouse might be sad or hungry or tired, maybe aging, aching, or frustrated with his co-workers and friends.

If you have come to feel adversarial in any way toward your partner, remember "partnership." Help him or her follow interests or hobbies or to take care of collections, or to see a favorite TV show. Support his interests. Being nicer makes you a nicer person.
photo by Joyce Fetteroll

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The horizon and beyond

"What you're dealing with is a very well-meaning person who is convinced the world is flat and is worried that you're so clueless that you want to head off across the horizon. It's a lot healthier and more useful to listen to the people who've been across the horizon than to the person who fears it." —Joyce Fetteroll

The Big Book of Unschooling
(The quote is not from there, but the quote and image both remind me of it.)
photo by Renee Cabatic

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Better, kinder, stronger

Robyn Coburn wrote:

"Everyone who is unschooling is on a daily journey of making choices based on unschooling principles that move them either towards or away from unschooling, towards or away from better, kinder, stronger relationships with their children. Life impacts us, emotionally and practically. Some days I think I was more fully connected to my daughter than others. But she is happy and fulfilled, and not hungry in any negative connotation of that word."
—Robyn Coburn

What Problems can Come?
photo by Cass Kotrba

Friday, February 14, 2020

A little separate time

The more people one's children know and trust, the easier it will be for the parents to find some separate time, but I don't think time apart should be a high priority.
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Approaching solidity

There is a danger when someone's own understanding and practice of unschooling is shaky, and she wants the approval of others more than the solid joyful everyday life of her family. I've seen a few of those.

Another problem comes when someone's reasons for unschooling are not about learning and family relationships, but about being way cool and out there, and cutting edge, and anti-this'n'that. But that sets the stage for lots of problems in insecure people, when they want to glom onto something that's wild and new and shocking.

Unschooling is...
photo by Alex Polikowsky

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Voices in your head

In your head, you have some repeating-loop messages. Some are telling you you're doing a good job, but I bet some of them are not. Some are telling you that you have no choice, but you do.
"Past Voices" is one good follow-up,
or Phrases to Hear and Avoid
Scanner image by Sandra Dodd (it's a link)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Reflections are beautiful to see—in still water, in windows, or mirrors.

If there are waves on the water, or leaves, or plants, or ice, the reflections might not be as clear. If a glass surface is wavy, or curved, or broken, the reflection will be distorted. Sometimes that's fun.

houses reflected in water in Luxembourg by Orion Larson

People "reflect on things," cognitively, mentally. The plainer one's mind and thoughts are, the easier it will be to reflect.

Looking back
photo by Orion Larson

Monday, February 10, 2020

Beauty and hope

Find beauty and hope wherever it can be found. Say and think sweet things about your children. If people can be positive and sweet, it doesn't matter so much where they do it. Being better is better.
Deposit the good stuff.
photo by Jo Isaac

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Joyful, fearless moment

Right now, it's much more important to live in the moment with your kids, absorb information about who they are and what they like, and present options with joy and free of fear, than to focus on what this will look like when they're grown, or next year, or even next week. Fear and worry transmit to them.

It helped me to remind myself when they were choosing lots and lots of sweets or cakes and I was still afraid it would harm them physically (it never did), that a belly ache is far easier to mend than broken trust.
—Jessica Hughes
photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Friday, February 7, 2020


Do your best to do your best.

You won't regret making more positive choices. on my site
"Better" on Just Add Light and Stir
photo by Renee Cabatic

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Like fluff, like play

"Compared to school, with unschooling what you see on the outside looks inconsequential to what they'll be doing as adults. It looks like fluff. It looks like play. But as long as they're in a rich environment with parents who are curious about and engaged with life themselves, when kids explore what interests them, they pull in what is important to their right-now selves and create the foundation for their future selves."
—Joyce Fetteroll
uphill path through grass in Scotland
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Hot and cold

Life moves and swirls with cause and effect, from snow to the visits of relatives to what's on sale at the grocery store. It's easy to wish for things to be different, but the best move is to find the benefit and beauty in what the day brings. If grapes are inexpensive today, you might not even be able to find any next week. Icicles are famously temporary. Your own smile can lift another's face. If you sing a song, it will remind someone of another song.
photo by Cass Kotrba

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Enjoyment, joy and health

Peace and calm are really good things all in and of themselves.

Enjoyment/JOY is better for health than all the "health rules" in the world.
photo by Belinda Dutch

Monday, February 3, 2020


I think "grow up" can be shortened to "grow" and then we don't ever have to stop.
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Sunday, February 2, 2020

What does it take?

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

We cannot inject unschooling into anyone. Unschooling is not accomplished by joining an unschooling discussion. It takes time, gradual and increased understanding, effort, desire, attention, change.
photo by Linda Malchor

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A few cool things

Knowledge only comes incrementally. Ditto experience.

Do a few cool things today. Build on that tomorrow.
photo by Sarah Elizabeth

Friday, January 31, 2020

Your own clear understanding

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Unschooling happily and successfully requires clear thinking. I don't think it works as well when people just look at those with young adult kids who are happy and successful
and try to copy them without doing the hard thinking and building their own clear understanding of unschooling. When they try to emulate, they are still following rules - unschooling rules. Unschoolers always say yes to everything. Unschoolers never make their kids do anything. Kids always decide everything for themselves. And so on. But those "rules" are not unschooling. Unschooling well requires understanding the underlying philosophy of how children learn, and the principles that guide us in our everyday lives arise from that philosophy. It isn't some new kind of parenting technique that can be observed and applied without understanding.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Belinda Dutch

Thursday, January 30, 2020


Live your life in such a way that you're not ashamed if someone quotes what you said, or tells something you did.
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Considerations and credit

Consider ideas. If something makes sense, good. Use the idea. Remember where you got it. Be honest.
Growth is good
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A progression

Sylvia Woodman wrote:

One of the great gifts of reading in unschooling groups was learning to change my perspective. To stop writing off entire days. To recognize bad moments for what they were—just moments. Moments pass MUCH quicker than entire days.

I learned the value of taking a breath and making a better choice. Wouldn't you know it, our days became better, sweeter, more fun-filled.

Did I continue to mess up? Sure, but it got to be less and less. I was growing and learning right alongside my kids. I was learning to be a better parent to my unique kids.

The things I learned rippled out across my life. I became a better daughter, partner, sister, friend. Unschooling helped me become a better human.
—Sylvia Woodman
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, January 27, 2020


Sometimes I think of things I wish I had done or said or I wish I had been more attentive or patient and sometimes I see in that very moment that I'm sitting there thinking about myself instead of getting up and going and being with my husband or kids. It's weird, and people who come to it new think "martyrdom!?" or self sacrifice, but it's not that. It's investment.

Investing in relationships
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, January 26, 2020


For good or ill, your experiences create you, change you, become part of you.

If a child will be molded or affected by his experiences, then unschooling parents need to provide great experiences.

NEW experiences
Repeat experiences.
Surprising experiences.
Comforting experiences.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Listening to your body

If food tastes like you should not eat it, don't eat it. If one bite makes you full, don't eat two. If one of your children balks at certain food, don't press him to eat it. Listen to your body's clear signals. If you get hungry, you'll FEEL hungry, and you might even know exactly what you would like to/should/can best eat, if you relax and pay attention.
photo by Jen Keefe

Friday, January 24, 2020

Hooks to hang ideas on

You have to know a lot to learn more, and if you know nothing, you can't learn anything.
photo by Dawn Todd

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Choose to choose.

Once someone complained making choices was too hard. I wrote:

Making a choice is a matter of choice and just doing it.I don't think it requires willpower to realize that a person can make a choice.

Think of two choices. Choose the best one.

Next time think of two choices (maybe the choice from the time before and a better one). Choose the best one.

If you do that several times a day, soon you'll be doing it countless times a day.

Make choices. Make choices that move you toward being more at peace with your child.
"Getting irritated," Always Learning, 2007
photo by Jill Parmer

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

More valuable and less expensive

Becoming the sort of person you hope your child will be, or that your child will respect, is more valuable than years of therapy. And it’s cheaper.
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Seeing in an unschooling light

Before you can see anything in an unschooling light, you must have an unschooling light to see by.
from an Always Learning post, 29Jan2016
photo by Karen James

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Be thoughtful.

Be careful what you get excited about or fearful of. Be thoughtful. Read a little. Try a little. Wait a while. Watch. Not just about unschooling.

Generous, thoughtful, considerate
the quote is from here
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The kinder thing, the better thing

The best problem-solving skills I can suggest are to live by principles and to base each tiny decision on those principles.

Living by Principles

Do the more peaceful thing, the more learning-oriented thing, the more relationship-building thing, the kinder thing, the thing you wish someone had done for you when you were that age. If you don't think of two options before you act, you haven't made a decision at all.
Make the Better Choice
photo by Sarah Elizabeth

Friday, January 17, 2020

Actually doing it

Reading about unschooling without doing it is like reading a cookbook without making any food, or reading woodworking project books without owning a saw.

Do it!
Help for getting it
photo by Cara Jones

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A bigger big world

It is strangely possible to learn from the whole wide world without participating in its pervasive school aspects.

It's a little like polarized glass—where you change the angle a little and it all looks CLEAR!! Tilt it back and it all looks dark.

It's a big world and school does not own it.

And the big world is not just right now, as is. It's all its history, all its future, all its imaginings and myths and fantasies and alternate endings. School presents a little package of one version of history, a little package of one summary of science, etc., and leaves all else out.

the whole wide world and what schooling isn't
photo by Sobia Itwaru

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lovable and respectable

Try to be lovable and respectable, whether or not you have a partner or an audience, because it makes you a better person. Try to be trustworthy and dependable.

Being a better person will make you a better parent.

Unconditional Love (was Love and Respect)
Better is better.
photo by Cally Brown

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

See what you have

The difference between poverty and abundance is sometimes the ability to see what one has. There have been times when I didn't have a car, we had a leaky roof, and the washing machine wasn't working. There have been more times that the car and washing machine were functioning, the house was solid, and I forgot to appreciate it.

from Gratitude, page 213 of The Big Book of Unschooling
(page 185, first edition)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Monday, January 13, 2020

Know what you're asking

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

It's said Alexander the Great founded at least 20 cities named Alexandria. So 2300 years ago if you were to ask someone for directions to Alexandria, you needed to know which you meant before following their directions!

Same with unschooling. To find ideas that will work for you, keep reassessing where you want to go, what you want for your family, what person you want to be rather than heading for "unschooling".

Ask yourself, "Will that idea move toward or away from helping my child explore his interests?" "Will that idea move me toward or away from being a kinder person?"
—Joyce Fetteroll

That is the middle of some longer writing, from a discussion here:
philosophical question on equality of ideas and learning
photo by Brie Jontry

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Advice for a newlywed

To have a more peaceful, loving relationship that has the potential to last for a lifetime, don't count and don't measure.

Don't divide anything "fifty/fifty." Forget that concept. Give what you have. Do all you can do. Give/do 80% when you can, but only measure it vaguely, at a squint, and then forget about it. If you aim for half, there will be resentments. If you aim for 100%, small failures will seem larger than they need to be, so don't do that. You can succeed at "lots" without measuring.

If each of you gives as much as you can, your shared needs will be fulfilled more quickly, more easily, and more often.

Be generous with your patience. Life is long. People change, and more than once.

I wrote that for a young friend getting married, and I quoted it here:
Becoming a Better Partner
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sometimes, be still.

Sometimes, be still.

Don't be still all the time—kids and life are busy, busy, busy! Notice moments of stillness, and breathe there.
Doing it,   Still
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, January 9, 2020

What it means

"Being there unconditionally for our children nurtures the beautiful side of the human spirit that resides in each one of us. It cleans it. Reveals it. Keeps it fresh. It feeds it. It brings it to life. Makes it grow and helps it thrive. It's a gift to the receiver and to the giver, and it leads both parties to a greater understanding of what it means to love."
—Karen James
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Love what you love

What one person fears, another might love.

Don't be afraid to like what others avoid or reject. There might be something in or about you, too, that seems irrational or wrong to someone. It's good to be different, but it's fine to like what most people like. Don't be afraid if your preferences change.

Feel your own feelings, and love what you love.
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, January 6, 2020

Playing with connections

I found something to share, but it seemed too long. While looking for a place to put it, I came upon a link to posts in this blog that are about play and playing.

These two images came up one after the other. They were posted seven years apart, but they're similar, and the posts they link to were called "Playing around" and "Play around." They're links here, and the quote follows.

Someone wrote in 2011:
I do worry about my boys playing computer all day.
I responded:
I have three kids who have played hundreds of games among and between them--Holly learned two new card games just this month that nobody else in the family knows, even her dad who has been a big games guy all his life. There is no game called "computer." I think you mean playing ON the computer. HUGE difference.

We have dozens of nice board games here, and table games (games involving cards or other pieces, to be laid out on a table as play proceeds), but those aren't referred to as kids playing board, or kids playing table.

The computer is not itself the game. There are games on the computer. There is information on the computer. It's not really a net. It's not really a web. It's millions of ideas, words, jokes, pictures, games, a ton of music and videos and.... But you know that, right?

Clarity can begin with being careful with the words you use. Thinking about what you write will help you think about what you think!
(The quote is from halfway down here.)
photos by Sandra Dodd and Karen James

Looking back

I think every moment an unschooling parent spends reflecting on what
and how
and where
she learned things is time well invested.
Reflection/Unschooling (in a discussion from 2005)
photo by Nicole Novakovics

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Little surprises

If it happened when you expected it, it wouldn't be surprising.

Be open to finding joy in the unexpected.
Something Surprising
photo by Jo Fielding

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Simple and beautiful

"I think unschooling has done as much for me as it has and will have for my son. When you get down to it it's just so simple and so beautiful. It's helped me to reconnect with my older kids too and make amends for all the times that I made mistakes. So many things that you don't even know will be changed when you start living that different kind of way."
—Jessica Sutton
Unforeseen Benefits of Unschooling
photo by Karen James

Friday, January 3, 2020

Stand up tall

People don't bend to become unschoolers. They stand up tall enough to look all around.
That was in response to a put-down of unschoolers, years ago.
photo by Heather Booth

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Fill yourself up

Generosity makes you generous. Kindness makes you kind. Respecting others, and their ideas and their interests, makes you full of respect—respectful. These are little things that build up quickly.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Generalizations and exceptions

How easy would it be to define dogs as four-legged animals?

Yet there are three-legged dogs. Many. Some people have never seen them. I knew one personally, and have seen three others closely.

My children learned to read without being taught.

If my children were the only children in the history of the world who learned without being taught, it would still be a fact that some children have learned to read without lessons—that a child can learn to read without lessons.

But my children are not the only ones. There are many. There were many even before schools existed, though it was harder without being surrounded by talking video games and movies with subtitles and printed boxes all over the kitchen, and signs on every street and building and shelf.

(The quote is from this topic, about 4/5 of the way down.)
photo by Sara McGrath


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