Sunday, June 30, 2013


Think about what you think you "have to" do.

Choose to do something good, for sensible reasons.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Worthy communications

"Unschooling requires that we, as parents, lose the prejudices society lays upon our schooled minds, and learn to see all modes of communication as worthy. In order to truly honor our children, they must make their own choices..."
—Ren Allen
 photo Disney cartoon and play tent
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 28, 2013

Easier and less needy

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

Being proactive will work better, more effectively and leave him less needy.
. . . .
"It takes time and a greater focus at the beginning. It takes letting go, a lot, of your needs for down time or personal time or time to sit and chat with other people. But the more you do work to partner with your son, to help him before he needs help, to be with him more, the easier it will get and the less needy the relationship will feel.
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Dylan Lewis

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Like fluff, like play

uphill path through grass in Scotland
Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

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

Joyce Fetteroll, interviewed by Sandra Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pouring out peace

 photo hand pump, two young boys and dad.jpgThe more peace the mom pours out, the more peace there is to share.
(It could be the dad pouring out peace, of course
but in the course of that discussion, the word "mom" made sense.)
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hearing yourself

Saying what one means rather than using phrases without thinking is very, very important.

Hearing what I say as a mom is crucial to mindfulness.

If I don't notice what I say, if I don't even hear myself, how can I expect my kids to hear me?

If I say things without having carefully chosen each word, am I really communicating?

Mindful of Words
photo by Marty Dodd

Monday, June 24, 2013

One nicer thing

When I was a kid, if my mom had done one nicer thing a day, that would have been thousands of nicer things in my childhood.
photo by Holly Dodd

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What helps when

What happens when you see other people differently is that you cannot help but see yourself differently. When you choose to find opportunities to give other people choices, you yourself have begun to make more choices.

from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 192 (or 222, depending)
which links to Thoughts on Changing
photo by Sandra Dodd, of the Siroky family's kitchen lamp

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Something about math

Unschooling is simple but not easy, and it's not easy to understand, but when math
matching toy school busses, on a store shelf
is a normal part of life then people can discover it and use it in natural ways and it becomes a part of their native intelligence. All that's left is for them is to learn the notation, later, when they need to.
Mathematics (written for a German magazine; the translation is linked there)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 21, 2013

Where to look

Rippy Dusseldorp wrote:

I don't really look to other mothers for validation on how I'm doing as a parent. I look to my children and my husband. If they are generally happy, relaxed, comfortable and engaged, I feel pretty good about how I'm doing....

If I see signs of frustration or stress or uneasiness in my family, there are alarm bells going off inside me telling me I need to be kinder, pay extra close attention, have more ideas, and offer more options."

—Rippy Dusseldorp
five kids in pajamas
In a discussion on the Always Learning discussion group
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Inventory your tools

Inventory your own tools. What do you already know that can make you a more peaceful parent? What tricks and skills can you bring into your relationships with members of your family?
. . . .

As you move toward peace, remember you can't have all of anything in one move. Each thought or action can move you nearer, though (or further).
photo by Sandra Dodd, through glass
("It's the thought that counts.")


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hopeful and helpful

Be up! Be happy when you can. Be hopeful and helpful!

Everyone who can do that makes the world a better place.
newborn calf and cat, same colors
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a preemie calf, still damp
and a matching, watchful cat
at Alex Polikowsky's farm

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The parts that fascinate you

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Real learning looks like doing a billion piece jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you'll work on a dragon down in the corner. Sometimes you'll work on a cat in the center. Sometimes you'll work on the bits that are red. Sometimes you'll work on the frame.
statue, toys, M&M dispenser at a car boot sale display
Eventually you'll discover what connects the dragon and the cat. You'll work on whatever interests you. And eventually there will be a rich collection of individual bits that form a bigger picture. But since it's a billion pieces you'll never do the whole thing. You'll just do the parts that fascinate you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, June 17, 2013

When it flows

When unschooling is working best, nobody is talking about learning. Saying "We're doing this so you will learn" will make the activity awkward, and you set up an expectation, and the possibility of failure to learn.

When unschooling really flows, everyone will learn, but you won't know in advance what will be learned.
puppets in a store display
The quote is from an exchange on facebook, but try:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vibrant, healthy and active

I can see how vibrant, healthy, and active both of them are. They love to go outside, run with their friends, ride bikes, dig in the dirt, go swimming, catch fireflies, climb trees, and tons of other things. And they also love watching TV and playing computer games. I can look at them directly, without any fear, and see that they are whole and that our relationship is remaining intact because I respect the things they love and support choices they make."
—Susan May

Either/Or Thinking and "Screen Time"
photo by Sarah Dickinson

The children described aren't the same as those pictured,
but they're all unschoolers.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ask questions about life

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

Think in terms of nurturing your own enthusiasm about life rather than nurturing their enthusiasm. Don't jump up and down about George Washington if he puts you to sleep. Be honest in your pursuit of what interests you. Let them see that you think something is really cool. Not to get them interested in something you think would be good for them but an honest "Wow! I love this stuff!" And ask questions about life. Be curious. Because it's the questions that are important. Anyone can look up the answers but not everyone can ask the questions.
—Joyce Fetteroll
(includes a link to a new French translation)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 14, 2013

Aging beauty

Those swans are in the window of a closed business in a dying town in West Texas. The window has a reflection of me, taking the photo,
reflection of the other side of the street, and me-the photography, in an old store window
and of the buildings across the street. I think they were probably beautiful when the window was first installed, and the store was fresh and filled with people and with the future.

I think the swans are even prettier now that they're the liveliest and most graceful things there. It might have been easy to miss seeing them in 1930, or whenever they first saw that street, because the new window below it would have been full of beautiful displays and the reflections of locals in their hats and suits and dresses.

The same camera has just taken photos in Portugal, and England, of odd little old things, of new and smiling people and of temporary tricks of light, ancient arches and statues and castles.

Look with your eyes and your heart at the beauty around you.

Today, the links are all from Just Add Light and Stir

See beauty in...
Beauty in onions
An Abundance of Beauty (with readers' links, and you can add your own!)

photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to be

Be sweet to your children., way at the bottom
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pick a goal, any goal...

In response to anti-"screentime" rhetoric:

If one's goal is to make school the most interesting thing on a child's horizon, then by all means—turn off the TV, don't give them any great picture books, avoid popular music, and close all the windows.

If one's goal is to make learning a constant condition of a child's life, then turn ON the TV, give them all the books and magazines and music they want, open the windows, explore! Explore when you're out of the house, and explore when you're in the house.
photo of Holly Dodd by Quinn Trainor

This post is a re-titled re-run from May 5, 2011. The window behind her has metal without glass. It is in "the rock house" (the Kiwanis cabin) at the top of the Sandia Mountains.

There is more on my site now about the prejudices some parents can succumb to than there used to be, too: "Screentime"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joyful witness

"I am joyfully stepping into a space where I can now see and witness learning all of the time!"
—Lynn Salmon-Easter
photo by Cátia Maciel, of her son with a flea-market pirate ship,
flags against the blue of a distant ocean, treasure chest at his side,
transported to another place in his thoughts

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mix it up

stuffed toy mouse in a long dressCombine some things that have never been put together before.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I nearly missed a day

Time out!

I got tired and went to sleep without thinking about Just Add Light. That doesn't often happen.

 a Euro coin with Vetruvian Man on it

Yesterday I was at a flea market in Lisbon. Anyone who feels like looking at photos that can lead to connections and questions is very welcome to see what I snapped during that time out, and some of the things I brought home with me!

I'm sorry I didn't do a proper post, in time for the morning mailing, though. Six more weeks in Europe... I expect a few more worthy distractions, but also opportunities for some good photos!
photo by Sandra Dodd (click the image for more)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Natural learning flows

Learning and growth are like a limitless reservoir, but we have factors in our culture that limit our access or control or faith that it could even work, or our feeling of ownership of knowledge of growth and learning. Experts. Timetables and charts.

Once a parent knows enough about natural learning to help that learning happen, though, it can flow freely.
a fountain in front of a museum in Sintra, Portugal
hand pumps, siphons, water containers
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finding art

Be brave! Not all art is in museums. Not everything that's in a museum is timeless, glorious art. Find accidents, jokes, coincidences... Share them with your children, share them with your friends.
photo by Sandra Dodd, and it's a link to where and what it is

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Robin Bentley wrote:
If you can only see the obstacles, then your journey won't be easy. Be like the water, finding its way around the rocks. See the openings, the possibilities.
—Robin Bentley
Atlantic shore, rocks
from a facebook discussion, but follows from it, too
photo by Colleen Prieto

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No matter how old

For a parent who didn't know about attachment parenting early on, those things can be compensated for by being gentler to older children, and patient, and loving.

For those who were gentle and attentive to babies as people, remember that your child, no matter how old, is still that same person who trusted you the first days and weeks and months.

It's easy to forget, and to be impatient and critical. It happens at my house. It can be ever easier to remember, with practice and focus, to choose quiet and soft, still.

A Quiet Soft Place
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Whole and in the real world

Holly, Adam, and James, climbing foothills of the Sandias

If they're whole people from the beginning, a lot of those problems and stages don't even exist. They're artificial, and they have to do with school.

Sometimes people say, "Well how will your kids know how to live in the real world?"

And I say "What do you mean by 'the real world'?"
And that's a trap.🙂

17:30 on the recording of An Interview with Sandra Dodd
photo by Holly Dodd

Monday, June 3, 2013

Simply and beautifully excel

miniature golf course in Minnesota

Ronnie Maier wrote this. I love the phrase "simply and beautifully excel."

With unschooling, kids aren't all expected to have the same sort of intelligence. Verbal and logical intelligences aren't valued more, so kids with other intelligences aren't at risk as they are in school. For example, a boy with kinesthetic intelligence might be a discipline case in school, or labeled with dyslexia or ADD, or simply made to feel stupid. As an unschooler, that same boy might learn his ABC's while jumping on the trampoline, start reading while playing video games, or simply and beautifully excel in some physical pursuit. Most importantly, he will never be made to feel he's less for being who he is.
—Ronnie Maier
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A beautiful mystery

"I want to see Lucas Sven Leuenberger's math rock band. But where? When?

"The future is a beautiful mystery."
—Holly Dodd            

a post with lots of direcional arrow signs on it

One doesn't need to know what math rock is to appreciate the comment about the future.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Now what?

 train and outdoor platform in England
Nothing in the world can guarantee that life will never jump up and scare us, or that circumstances won't pile up on us. The question to ask when one is consciously intending to create and maintain a more peaceful life is "now what?"

from a discussion on facebook
photo by Dylan Lewis