Thursday, October 31, 2013

Still candy left

Since my kids were little they could have all the Halloween candy they wanted, and since they were little that has been no problem at all, because by the time they gave away what they didn't like and traded for favorites, and saved it and shared it with kids who came over for the next few weeks, there was still candy left.
. . . .

We were confident that it was control, not access, that made kids eat, do and want "too much" before we ever considered unschooling. Others come to the idea the other way around—unschooling first and releasing other control-urges later.
photo by Pam Sorooshian

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't always finish what you start

The only things that should be finished are those things that seem worthwhile to do.
. . . .
Wanting your children to learn to ignore their own judgment in favor of following a rule is not beneficial to them or to you. It will not help them learn.

Thoughts about finishing what you start
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


photo by Karen James, from a hotel room in Yokohama, Japan
I put no text with this, but here is a link to a page on wonder:
and the photo is a link.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Be it

Be the kind of person you want your child to be.

Nurture your own curiosity and joy.

Find gratitude and abundance in your life.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The scenic route

lynchgate of a church in Liverpool

We seek out interesting “scenic routes” in real and figurative ways.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good person, good parent

Being a good unschooling parent involves being a good person, a good parent. Unschooling can't work unless the parent is there, whole and attentive and not screwing it up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trustworthy and caring

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be your child's friend. Do what it takes to earn their friendship—be supportive and kind and honest and trustworthy and caring and generous and loyal and fun and interesting and interested in them and all the other things that good friends are to each other.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Collect the whole set!"

Some people collect things. Even those who don't gather and store physical objects might like hearing all of one artist's music, or seeing all the movies by a single director. I used to want to go into every public building or business in my home town. I never succeeded, but I saw each building as "yes, have been inside," or "not yet."

It might not make sense to a parent that a child wants to save feathers or rocks or movie ticket stubs. That's okay. What's important is that the unschooling parent accept that there is thought involved that might not need to make sense to anyone else. If possible, the child's whims and wishes about such things should be accepted and supported.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gradually, climb

Gradually, without fanfare, be more positive and more supportive. has some bits about baby steps,
and about not leaping too far too fast.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 21, 2013

The right direction

The way to know the right direction
is to identify the wrong direction.
medieval streets and buildings, very steep
photo by Bruno Machado

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Children need...

mother and child, smiling

They need to be protected from physical and emotional harm. They need to have positive regard, food, shade and sun, things to see, hear, smell, taste and touch. They need someone to answer their questions and show them the world, which is as new to them as it was to us. Their growth can’t be rushed, but it can be enriched.
photo by Bruno Machado

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A bigger world

School kids don't know the world is a million times bigger than school's version of it.

A bigger big world
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of a first glimpse of Lisbon, but Portugal is at least a million times bigger than that. "A million times bigger" represents "unmeasurable breadth and depth," in the quote above.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sometimes, a little examination

This was about unschoolers helping other unschoolers, but some of it applies generally.

Helping people learn to find their own answers is vastly superior to distributing answers on demand. And those who volunteer their time and experience are not willing to hold other's hands for years or months. They want to empower others. Empowerment is a principle, not a rule. Learning to examine one's own life and needs and beliefs is necessary for unschooling to work.
photo by Leon McNeill, Omaha Beach, when Holly was there with them

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here and now

People can't actually leave the planet and can't actually go back in time. The only place we can live is the here and now.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"It all made sense"

Rachel Marie wrote:

I started to get what people meant when they said kids learn from everything. Every car ride we took where my son asked questions like who is the oldest living person and we discussed that topic, which morphed into other topics like people's life spans through time, and yet other topics .... It all made sense that this was learning.
—Rachel Marie
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 14, 2013

Helping create safety

Confident kids who communicate well with parents and wouldn't be tempted to sneak out or to lie wouldn't be in danger of meeting someone who says he'll marry her if she meets him at the train station. That doesn't happen randomly.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bits & pieces

Caren Knox, on how they learn:

I don't even think about learning any more. It's not something I can quantify, or say how it's happening for anyone other than me - and quite frequently, I can't for me, either. It's organic. It's in bits & pieces so small we don't notice.
—Caren Knox

How do they learn?

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Colleen Prieto wrote:

I took this photo the other day. The second Robbie saw it he said right away, "Whoa - that really says something about unschooling there."

I hadn't thought about it as being about unschooling, and so I asked "What's that?"

He answered "Cuz the kid is going ahead of the parent and the parent is coming along where the kid wants to go and, well, it's all metaphorical—you know?"

He sees parallels to his life, even in swans. It makes me happy.

This page has trails to follow:
photo by Colleen Prieto

Friday, October 11, 2013

Looking closely

Karen James wrote:

Ethan and I are playing a game where one of us takes a close up picture of something in our yard, and the other one has to find it. Here's a sampling...

Sandra, I thought of this quote from Just Add Light and Stir as I was playing this game with Ethan today: "Some families travel. Some stay in one place, and come to know that place well."

It's interesting too, as I sit here and look at these photos again, that there's not anything particularly exotic about our back yard—it's kind of overgrown and weedy (as you might have guessed from a couple of the photos)—yet it looks so beautiful from this perspective. Especially that middle one. (Ethan was proud of that one.)

More exploring without leaving:
The quote first said "...the quote from today's Just Add light..."

photos by Karen and Ethan James

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where and why, gradually gathered

Some families travel. Some stay in one place, and come to know that place well. Consider your resources, histories, friends, relatives and where they live, and why. All those stories, images and artifacts, gradually gathered, will expand your child's view of his own personal world.

Where are you?
photo by Bea Mantovani

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Like the air

Given a rich environment, learning becomes like the air—it's in and around us.

Photo by Sandra Dodd
The quote is the last line of this interview:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Basketful of ideas

Used Easter baskets will be on sale everywhere in the Spring for nearly nothing. We have used ours for birdfeeders, storing doll clothes, storing kindling (eventually just burn the basket), rinsing toy dishes outside (water runs out), for hanging plants, or storing socks, caps or hair scrunchies on tops of dressers. While you have those baskets, see if you can look at where they're from, how they're made, and of what material. When weaving pictures or examples of basketry come by, point that out to your children (or just appreciate them yourself).
Photo by Sandra Dodd (click to enlarge)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Webs, nets, connections

The terms "web" and "net" have both been commandeered by the internet. The idea of a grid or web or matrix to represent the connections involved in learning and memory is a good one, though—of many "dots" connected in all directions.
The photo here is of the two-dimensional web—very flat—of a garden spider, outside my house this week. Black widow spiders make a web that's three-dimensional, but has no pattern. We have those in our yard, too.

The webs on which our own mental models of the universe are based are more complex—with past and future, emotion and theory, alternative stories and secondary theories. We have sounds and songs, scents and tastes to remember, and can sort things by temperature or texture, in our minds and imaginations.

Rejoice in the random!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Doing Nothing, and finding balance

Halfway between the past we can't change and the future we can only imagine, we find ourselves in the present. Not just the present year, but the present day; not just the present day, but the present moment.

From Balancing in the Middle Ground:
[Some families] had stopped doing school, and then stopped making their kids do anything, and now their kids were doing NOTHING.

Aside from the idea of the rich potential of their "nothing," the parents had gone from making their kids do everything, to "making them do nothing." And interestingly, it did make them "do nothing," at first. Or at least the parents couldn't see the new things they were doing.

Rather than moving from one edge of a dichotomy to the other, the goal is to move to a whole new previously unknown middle place.

Holly Dodd, and the false sea onion

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The path behind

"Looking back, we can often see the path pretty clearly. But we can't look ahead and know what the path is going to be."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Wolfgang Marquardt

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seems like...

This photo was the background image on the first cellphone I ever had. Holly took the picture, when she was fifteen. I didn't recognize what it was when I first saw it, though it was taken in our back yard.

It looks like a dramatic view over the parapets of a castle. It was Holly's view of a sunset through the gap where one cinderblock was missing from the top row of our back wall. What could seem to be pennons and pikes in the background are power poles and streetlights and such across the vacant lot. The sky is a feature of New Mexico's high, dry climate.

If we look for beauty, everyday things might be seen as art.
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Breathe in a happy memory

Breathe in a happy memory.

Breathe out gratitude.

Breathe in hope.

Breathe out love.

The words are new today, but this will match:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sharing time

When we "give someone our time," what is it we give? Sometimes attention, or service. Maybe assistance, or advice.

Instead of thinking that I "give" my child my time, it helps to think of us sharing a moment, together.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Doozy Dodd

This is what unschooling, though, has done for Holly. She is not a student. She is Holly. She is not a fourth grader. She is Holly Dodd. She has been since birth, and she will be until or unless she decides to go by another name, but that will be her decision. The world is hers in a way that the world has never been mine, not even now as an adult. Sometimes I see myself as a messy amalgamation of experiences, certificates, test scores and labels, just come lately into the real world.

I see my children living full, real lives today, right now. I don't see them as students in preparation for life, who after a number of years and lessons might be considered "completed" or "graduated." It was a long way to come, and I never even had to move. I just had to look at what I considered to be real.

That was written in early 2002,
when Holly was ten years old.
At twenty-one years old, she goes by Doozy.
photo ("Holly Dodge") by Sandra Dodd