Saturday, November 30, 2013

A moment of nothing much

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

Deschooling doesn't work until you let go of structure. Early days unschooling is about learning how to see learning in all things and if you are still looking to the structure of curricula it will be very, very difficult to grasp the fundamentals of unschooling. Having go-to ideas of things to do or engagements to offer is a good thing, but having those things be about education or a passing on of pieces of specific knowledge it won't help you to see the glorious world of unschooling. Those things are best if they are just kind of a fun thing to do in a moment of nothing much going on. Learning will happen.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 29, 2013


Pay attention to your child and help him do/find/see/experience things that will interest him. Help him be his best self as often as you can.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When? Maybe not.

toy oven, doll furniture

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

We can't always fix everything for our kids or save them from every hurt. It can be a delicate balancing act—when should we intervene, when should we stay out of the way? Empathy goes a long long way and may often be all your child needs or wants. Be available to offer more, but let your child be your guide. Maybe your child wants guidance, ideas, support, or intervention. Maybe not. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is distraction.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A new everything

Someone wrote that learning about unschooling felt like learning a new language.

I responded
It's like learning a new everything, but an all-slightly-better everything.
The photo is Rippy, Graham, Gianluca and Gisele, a lifetime ago.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Be that way

by Bruno Machado 2 photo IMG_6270.jpg Be the way you want your children to be, and they will want to be like you.
Look here or at
photo by Bruno Machado

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Investing at home

old sailboat, listing, nice reflectionSomeone commented that responses to her questions had hurt her feelings. I wrote:

When he is calm and happy and trusting, THEN you will feel better—not because of things we wrote, or didn't, but because you will BE better. You will see it in your son's eyes.

Don't make it about you. Make it about his range of exploration and his choices and his learning and his happiness. You can live on the interest, if you invest enough in him.

(at Radical Unschooling Info, on Facebook)
photo by Colleen Prieto

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You don't have to make a choice.

Life is FULL of decisions, right?
Some people say no. Some people decided a long time to close their windows and thoughts and… wait. I wrote "Some people decided…" without even noticing.

When unschoolers discuss a vast array of choices, it seems inevitable that newer people will come by and assure us we're full of it. People have to do things, they say. They have to do what they have to do. People can't go around choosing from everything in the whole wide world, because the world isn't that way. Kids need to learn now that they have to live with their lack of choices.

How often do you make a choice?
How often do you think "I have no choice"?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 22, 2013

Unmeasured and immeasurable

Our days are full and our learning is unmeasured and immeasurable.early sunrise on the Atlantic
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Surprised, repeatedly

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Homeschooled children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise you with what they know.
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Joannah Smith of a tiny bridge, Scotland;
sheep can go under, a truck can go over


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Finding without searching

I'm bringing you three links today. First, a quote from an 1998 article I wrote called "Gifts for Guys to Buy" (written before Amazon, before Google, before online shopping):

There are some great commercial toys, but there are some that so many other kids also have that they become background. If you think back to your own childhood, there were probably a couple of special possessions you still remember or still have. Be flexible and open in your
shadows of junk at a flea market
search for gifts, and consider combining several things into one “kit” or “gift basket.” A magnifying glass and a compartmented box could be a rock or bug collecting kit. A flashlight, mirror and some colored lens covers could be an optical physics kit. I can’t predict what you’ll find that kids might love, but I can predict that if you forget to consider “non standard” sources for children’s gifts they’ll miss out on some memorable treasures! *

Looking to see whether I had already quoted that here, I found something else about gifts: Gifts, a Just Add Light post from December 2010.

But the reason I was searching for "search" was to announce that I have added, to my site's search page, a custom search that will check my site, Joyce Fetteroll's and Pam Laricchia's all at once. I'm sure you will stumble upon some gifts.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

History and tradition

Newness can dazzle us, and the future is confusing. But right around you are simple, plain, useful, interesting, solid bits of history and tradition—things that were there before you were born, things with their own stories, whose makers might be gone and forgotten, but the artifacts remain.
The photo today is a stile I saw in Texas. Stiles and fences have existed in various forms for a long time. There are quiet antiques all around us.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 18, 2013

A million ideas

I'm glad to live in a time when photographs are so easily taken and shared, without ever needing to be set on paper or touched with hands. I can show you things I've seen. Just Add Light has had images from four continents, from mothers and fathers sharing photos of their children, and from teens and children sharing photos of things they've seen. A thousand people can see them on the same day. A thousand photos have come through. It's worldwide strewing from which each reader makes his or her own connections. Shared experiences are interpreted differently by each person involved, and connected by each to his own existing knowledge and images.
photo by Sandra Dodd,
and it's one of over 1200,
but I rounded to the nearest thousand

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rearrangement as a constant

pens and scissors in cups, with framed photos behindIf something comes up in a conversation and then it doesn't come up again later, that's fine. The tide comes in, leaves some stuff on the sand, and goes out; some things stay, some go back out. All of it still exists—the sand, the shells, the water—they're all still there, just rearranging a bit.

On "Always Learning," in response to someone considering
writing down every question her kids asked to look things up later.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Descriptive and unlimited

I think that an unschooler's checklist should look more like the five senses and past/future than like "science, history, language, math, maybe-music-art-physical education."   Because that model is prescriptive and limiting.  And the other is descriptive and unlimited.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 15, 2013


 photo DSC09249.jpgIf the mom changes,
the family is changed.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More time

The more time parents spend with their children, doing interesting things together, the less they will worry about other things.

Marta saved the quote from a post on Always Learning.
Here's something similar:
photo by Karen James, a few years ago,
in a giant wheel in Japan

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dude, they named a Turtle after him

dad and son feet in shallow waterMichelangelo said that to carve his statue of David, he just chipped away everything that didn't look like David. Or maybe he didn't say that. But clearly that's what he ultimately did.

Chip away what doesn't look like unschooling. It's not as difficult as you might think.

Unschooling: How to Screw it Up (sound file with notes!)
photo by Colleen Prieto

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Emotions and intellect

"Feelings and intellect are not in opposition and not even separate things. All learning involves the emotions, as well as the intellect."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Electronic strewing

Physical strewing is fun—shells, leaves, crystals, puzzles, widgets and tools... Younger children need to touch things, turn them over, feel their texture and weight.

Older children have more experience, and deeper questions. They're involved with collections and connections. Recordings, video, photos and trivia can be drink bottles with American-flag metal caps easily collected and shared, without needing storage.

At my house, we're saving bottle caps for a young friend who's collecting them. He knows how big a bottle cap is, and what it feels like. I saw these and collected an image, thanks to the wonder of digital cameras.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Who's in charge?

When someone reported having told her child that there was no boss in their house, I wrote:

Honestly, there should be a boss. A kind boss, but someone with the last word, in a situation. Being a child's partner is better than saying "we're all equal and nobody knows or says more than another." The land lord, the city, social services... none of them will want to hear that you felt your child was as much responsible for things as you were.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, November 9, 2013


museum building, stone arch, ramp, steps.jpg"The idea of unguided discovery in a school setting isn't anything like the kind of discoveries unschooling kids make. There is a difference between a teacher handing a kid a pulley and telling him to discover what it does and write a paper about it and a kid finding an interesting object and messing with it because it sparked his curiosity. A lot of what my son has learned he's learned in a way that might be called unguided discovery, but it didn't look much like the model in the article, and it didn't happen in a vacuum."
—Deb Lewis
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 8, 2013


This plant was found in the trash a couple of years go. Just on speculation, I kept it and watered it even when it wasn't looking good.

It has bloomed a couple of times, but this set looks to be a big one.

People can't always plan or predict or control what happens with flowers, or days, or children. Live in the moment as well as you can and be glad of happy surprises.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Empower and enliven!

photo from a car in a tunnel without other cars

Anything you feel you "have to" do is entrapping and stiffling.

Something you *choose* to do can be empowering and enlivening.
photo by Marty Dodd

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Peace rules

So what's the "rule" about peace?
There's not a rule about peace.
If you want to live peacefully, make the more peaceful choice.
photo by Marty Dodd, of found art—a peace symbol made of rocks on dry, cracked desert sand

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Unschooling is...

Unschooling is creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which natural learning can flourish.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Monday, November 4, 2013

Any and all

cormorant perched
Unschooling allows free use of any and all bits of information, not just school's small set. A grid based first on cartoon characters or the history of ice skating can be expanded just as well as one built on a second-grade version of the discovery of North America and the made-up characters in some beginning-reader series. If the goal is to know everything, and if each person's internal "universe" is unique, then the order in which the information is acquired isn't as important as the ease and joy with which it is absorbed.
photo by Robbie Prieto

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reading and writing and monsters

Deb Lewis wrote:

He learned to read in part from watching Godzilla movies. Many of them were subtitled. I watched with him at first and read the subtitles to him but somewhere along the way he stopped needing me. . . . .

He was inspired to write partly because he wanted to rewrite bad screenplays. He rewrote the screenplays of several bad horror films when he was younger…
—Deb Lewis, at
Snobbishness vs. Godzilla
photo by Karen James
(I didn't have a photo of Godzilla,
but this is in Japan and looks spooky
Scooby-Doo style.)


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Looking forward to thinking back

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

There is no substitute for being authentically "there" for them—for genuinely trying to help them resolve problems. For putting your relationship with them at the forefront of every interaction, whether it is playing together or working together.

None of us are perfect—we'll all have some regrets. But with my kids 19, 16, and 13, I can now say that I will never say anything like, "I wish I'd let them fight it out more," or "I wish I'd punished them more," or "I wish I'd yelled at them more." I will only ever say that I wish I'd been more patient, more attentive, more calm and accepting of the normal stresses of having young children.

One interaction at a time. Just make the next interaction a relationship-building one. Don't worry about the one AFTER that, until IT becomes "the next one."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a 17th century dog

Friday, November 1, 2013

Your Own Certain Knowledge

Vague interest can turn to trust in others' accounts of learning and of parenting successes. Trust in those stories can give us courage to experiment, and from that we can discover our own proofs and truths to share with newer unschoolers, who might find courage from that to try these things themselves. Faith in others can only take us a little way, though, and then our own children's learning will carry us onward.

Holly and Sophie riding in a decorated cart at a French wedding

Some ideas become theories. A few theories might turn to convictions. Some early thoughts will be abandoned; others will gain substance. After much thought and use, what is left will be what you believe because you have lived it.
photo by Leon McNeill