Thursday, March 31, 2016

Positive, abundant gratitude

Finding the positive, finding abundance, finding gratitude, will take a person in an entirely new direction, and many of the other problems fall away effortlessly.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Explore the world

"Children will flourish if their needs are joyfully met as they explore the world. Creatively support your child in what he's genuinely interested in."
—Debbie Regan
Sometimes they're exploring imaginary worlds.
photo by Abby Davis

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Angels and chickens

Knowing I wanted to use this photo of Lydia Koltai's daughter and a favorite chicken, I pulled up my site search and put in "angel" and "chicken," partly as a joke—thinking I might get a quote with one of them.

Up came the page on cakes. Well, then! I invite you to go there and read the brief story of how my young boys, during a viewing of Spartacus in 1994, helped me discover one of the coolest things of my whole life—that the candles on birthday cakes, and the cakes themselves, are sacrificial offerings. Also they're sweet, and fun. There's light. There are wishes. There is celebration.

Cherish those things.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, March 28, 2016


I had a professor, years ago, tell me that one mark of intelligence was the use of tools other than the way they were intended to be used. I thought that definition would show up in other places in my life, but it hasn't. So here I share it with all of you. Try not to say "That's not what that's for" too quickly—your child might be about to do something quite intelligent.

"If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society."
—Piaget, quoted by Deb Lewis
in "Unguided Discovery"
photo by Andrea Taylor

Saturday, March 26, 2016


If you get to sleep for a long time, be glad. If your sleep is interrupted, try to be like a cat, and just accept it. Measuring sleep and being angry about the clock will lead to neither peace nor rest.
Children will wake you up. Breathe in love and remain restful.
photo by Ve Lacerda

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dial it up!

The edge of the ocean isn't a static, solid line. Waves and tides make it beach, and water, and marine habitat, and land, back and forth, up and down, neither all nor nothing. Learning is that way, too, if you can relax.

See if you have a dial in your mind that says "everything" at one extreme and "nothing" at the other. It's impossible for anyone to do everything or nothing. Maybe label it "too much" and "not enough" instead, and try for the midpoint. Replace any on/off switches in your mind with slide bars or dimmers!"
photo by Janelle Wrock

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Once you start looking...

Once you start looking for connections and welcoming them, it creates a kind of flow that builds and grows.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The turning point of deschooling

Recovering from school is only part of a parent's deschooling process. Trust is involved, but it's an evolving trust. First one might read about or even meet some older unschooled kids and see that they're doing well. But it seems they can distance their own families a bit by thinking "Well that's fine for her kids—but mine might not be as [insert one:
                     sociable] as hers are."

The turning point comes when one sees the natural learning start to shine from her own child. Then she goes beyond trusting other unschoolers, and starts trusting natural learning.

"Of your own certain knowledge…"
Seeing the light with your own eyes

photo by Erika Ellis

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Being together

When a child lives with his parents, it's good if the parents appreciate and nurture what it is "to live," and if they can see the value of the "with."

Read about the New Wheelbarrow or perhaps more Togetherness
photo by Jo Isaac

Monday, March 21, 2016

Be a safe place

Here is how to make yourself a safer, more peaceful person, before you even finish reading this post:

Just let your breath out, and don't breath back in right away. Empty out.
You can't talk without any air in you.

That will seem like five seconds, if you're full of adrenaline. But it will be one second or less.

Then your body will naturally fill back up, whether you want it to or not.
And the breath you breathe in will be all new oxygen. Not that dirty used adrenaline cloud you had built up before that. It might not totally dissipate in one breath; it might take three.

Hold it in. Top it off. Hold it. Let it out slowly—all the way out. Huff out the rest. Hold it out. Breathe in slowly...

There are a lot of people in prison for life who might not be there if they had known they could let all their breath out, breath back in, hold it.

And there are parents who swat their kids, or yell at them, or say something mean the kid might remember for life, when they could have breathed out, huffed out the rest, breathed in a deep breath.

Deep breaths will probably help. You don't have to do it formally, and nobody even needs to know you're doing it.
photo by Rachel Singer

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Life changes things

Noticing and appreciating change and variation is good artistically, emotionally and scientifically.

Life changes things. See that, accept it, and flow.
photo by Shannon Loucks

Saturday, March 19, 2016 it's 1999

This is the 1999th post, and it reminded me of the Prince song. That song came out in 1982, before I had children. It was quite futuristic, right? For most of 18 years, he was singing of something distant.

All the children born before then are adult-aged now. Most of the children of readers of this blog were born in the 21st century, and might need some explanation to appreciate that song.

You're living in history! It's flowing around you and through you.

The very first post, and why
photo by Sandra Dodd, of Holly doing something
more like 1899, but in 2015.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Live, see, and think

Unschooling isn't another version of a curriculum, that will take four hours a day. Unschooling is a different way to live and to see and to think.
photo by Julie T

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Most things are many things

Few things have only one name, one use, or one aspect. People have different roles and relationships, skills and traits. The same tree will look different in different stages, seasons, and times of day.

See things.
Appreciate them.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slightly new is new

Change one thing: timing, route, store, choices, order, station, dishes...

One change affects other perceptions and connections.
Normal or exotic?
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Movement can be joy for children. It doesn't need to be organized, formal, or measured. Spinning for fun, jumping, climbing, rolling down a hill—think back to your own childhood memories of moving in new ways.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Monday, March 14, 2016

Just enough peace

Can there be too much peace? For learning, yes. Learning requires mental arousal. If an environment is so still and barren that one's curiosity isn't sparked, then people might be closer to a state of sleep than of excited curiosity. Life can be too dull and quiet for learning to spontaneously happen.

Can there be too little peace? Yes, and in many ways. There can be too much noise, stimulation and chaos. So finding the balance place and the comfort level is part of creating a peaceful home.
photo by Andrea Justice

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Serious fun

"Fun is serious. Fun is important, especially for kids. Don't underrate fun. People who are not happy as children seldom find easy or lasting happiness as adults."
—Deb Lewis

The quote comes from something beautiful, and serious, about Scooby-Doo
at the second link here:
photo by Janine Davies

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Help on the journey

Shared from e-mail, with the author's permission:

"I just started to think and learn about unschooling late last year, and when I first signed up for Just Add Light and Stir I couldn't imagine how the kinds of things you post would help me understand unschooling. But as time goes by I feel like these posts are almost what has helped me more than anything! I find that I really look forward to reading them every day, and they accompany me on my journey into this new territory."
—Susan Walker
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy heroes

Adam in a Jedi robe with lightsabre
Courage, real or imagined, can make a person bigger—larger of soul and of confidence. "Big hearted," it once meant.

When a parent has the heart, and soul, and confidence to stand heroically between a child and fear, that takes courage. Defending a child from criticism and negativity (even from our own) makes us bigger.
(The words above are Sandra Dodd's, new today,
but the link is to "Becoming Courageous," by Deb Lewis.)
photo by Julie D

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Special delivery

kid snack food in four-section tray"Food you want, served to you by someone who loves you and brings it to you with a smile and a hug, has magical powers to heal and replenish the soul as well as the body."
—Shan Burton
photo by Robyn Coburn

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Connect the dots

History is infinite, that's for sure. You've gotta start somewhere, and pretty much it doesn't matter where you start because it's all connected, like a universe-sized dot-to-dot you could never finish but you started when you were born.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Look, learn, proceed

Karen James wrote:

"Unschooling is really about learning without school. Radical unschooling includes all learning, not just academic learning. What encourages and supports learning in your child(ren)? Look at that. Learn from that. Proceed from that."
—Karen James

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, March 7, 2016

Time and support

Ronnie Maier wrote:

"Unschooling works because the unschooled individual has the time and support to follow the interesting byways that lead to real learning."
photo by Talie Bartoe

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lucky baby

A rich world for a baby is similar to a rich world for anyone else. A baby is a person. A lucky baby has an adult partner who understands that.
photo by Ve Lacerda

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sorting, sort of

Things will get better as you weed out negativity and focus on what’s good and positive.

The quote is from a private e-mail. This page is a match:
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a card from the singing game "Encore"

Friday, March 4, 2016

Patterns built and found

People naturally look for similarities, differences, and patterns. We name and categorize. It's a natural part of learning, and it can be fun.
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Warm home

black and white cat in a deep kitchen sink

Small moments of peace and calm can add up to contentment. Gratitude and acceptance contribute to satisfaction. Having a warm home isn't an absolute, and it's not magic. It's the accumulation of positive choices that create a nest for humans (and their significant animal others).
photo by Janine

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Quiet antiques

wrought iron gate, in IndiaLook around you for simple bits of older art, technology and history. See and appreciate these quiet antiques.
photo by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Calm acceptance

children in mismatched rainboots

Sometimes the smallest thing can make child extremely happy. Sometimes parents can find joy in relaxing around fears and pressures. Without dress codes and early-morning school bells, or other kids to ask "Why are you wearing that?!", there can be leisurely days of choices and creativity, while parents practice saying "yes" and children play without worries.

Jenny Cyphers once wrote:
"The big upside of unschooling, in my opinion, was that it also created an unexpected peacefulness, fulfillment, and happiness for all of us."
photo by Julie Markovitz