Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quietly and gently play

Jigsaw puzzles are wonderful, and you can get them at yard sales and thrift stores for less than a dollar. Greeting cards cost $2 now, but you can get a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle for 50 cents and so what does it matter if it might have a piece or three missing? Cheaper than a greeting card. Work it and throw it away.

While you’re working it, the picture on the box will inspire questions, stories, ideas, tangents. The shapes of the pieces will remind people of other connections in their lives. Except for those toddlers who eat puzzle pieces, puzzles can involve people of all ages together. There are some on the market now with big pieces at one end, medium in the middle, and small for the rest. Some bright parent thought THAT up. They’ll be coming soon to a yard sale near you.
That was written in 1999; greeting cards can be $4 and $5 now, and used puzzles might be $2.

image by Sandra Dodd, made with a scanner (pieces set face down)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Whether it's warm outside or cold, the sun through the window is the same.

Be light.
photo by Wendy Neathery-Wise

Sunday, November 27, 2016

If then learning

The parents don't need to know what the child is learning in order for learning to be happening.

If a child is bored and agitated, she's not learning. If she's happy and smiling and humming and engaged with what she's thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching or smelling, then she's learning.

Sandra Dodd, on the Always Learning discussion September 2012
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fragile and beautiful

Be ready to discover temporary fragile beauty.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Friday, November 25, 2016

Every day or two

Strewing is a little like at school, when they change the bulletin boards for different seasons, or museums when they change displays.

It's restaging the learning area.

Unschoolers don't need to wait weeks or months to restage, though. Something interesting might be set out every day or two.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 24, 2016


See what is beautiful, even briefly.

Appreciate what is, even for a moment.
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

the choose-joy light

Someone else's question, and part of my answer:

As much as I read,... I seem to slide right back into schoolish ways. How long does it take to really break that bad habit?


If you think of it in negative terms ("bad" and not just "break" but "really break"), you will just sit in that negativity, frustrated, forever. You will feel there had to be a winner (you) or a loser (you) and you will be angry with yourself.

The change you need is to live a different way. Step out of the grumpy dark into the calm decision-making choose-joy light.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 21, 2016

Future memories

"Remind yourself that each moment we're creating memories. Think of those moments as photos in a photo album. We have no control over which pictures they'll keep. Ask yourself, 'Is this a moment I want my children to carry with them forever? Is this how I want them to remember me?'"
—Joyce Fetteroll

Techniques for Change at Joyce's site
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Just like that.

So how do you choose? You decide where you want to go before you decide to turn left or right, don't you?

Just like that.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Together every day

Parents know a child is learning because they're seeing and discussing and doing things together every day. Not five days a week, or most of the year, but all of the days of their whole lives.

Os pais sabem que a criança está a aprender porque eles estão a ver e a discutir e a fazer coisas juntos todos os dias. Não é cinco dias por semana, ou a maior parte do ano, mas todos os dias das suas vidas inteiras.
(Sandra Dodd, traduções em Português por Marta Venturini Machado)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 18, 2016

Watch your step!

Meredith Novak wrote:

I don't think too much focus on either rights or liberty is good for unschooling. When parents are invested in their rights, it's easy to step on kids' liberty. Worse, it's easy to step on kids' hearts."
—Meredith Novak

(I dropped one clause, above, because
it referred to someone else's quote. —Sandra *)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cameras and light

Cameras weren't around, 200 years ago.

A hundred years ago, people needed to be very still, to have a photo taken, and they were in black and white.

Now, wonderful photos can exist without needing to be printed. That's good! But they are sometimes less permanent than the older, paper images people framed and handed down. Use your cameras, but let images come and go. Pixels, like light, can be beautiful and be gone again.
photo by Holly Dodd, of herself

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Familiar things

Favorite tools, stored in the same old way, make your home special, and will be part of a child's memories. Love your normal stuff.
photo by Sandra Dodd of some familiar things at Polly's house

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How long?

How long should you be calm?

Longer than you think you need to be.
Thanks to Amber Ivey for saving a quote from a workshop I ran in Arizona.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 14, 2016


Props and costumes can help children to perceive the world in a slightly different way, and those thoughts add to their knowledge.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What we know

We can't tell by looking at a child that learning is taking place. When unschooling is working well, though, we begin to know know that if they are interested, engaged and thinking, they are making their own connections, large or small.
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Deposit the good stuff.

When people ask about being happier and more positive, the answer can't help but be the same. BE happier. BE positive.

But as with any accounting (think a bank account), withdrawals deplete your reserves. Every negative word, thought or deed takes peace and positivity out of your account. Cynicism, sarcasm—which some people enjoy and defend—are costly, if your goal is peace. (which is really about positivity)
photo by Janine

Friday, November 11, 2016

A useful gate

"Rather than experiencing you as a gate that either opens or closes, let him experience you as someone he can depend on to help."
—Joyce Fetteroll
in a discussion November 10, 2016, on facebook
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Food and art

Food can be art, and there is art about food.

Some thing are obvious, like cake decoration, or piemaking. But even when you make a sandwich, it can be cut artfully and arranged nicely on a plate. You could use matching dishes, even if you're only feeding one child.

Aesthetics! Look for beauty, and create a bit of it.
photo by Jacki, Hannah's mom, long ago

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What do you call it?

This photo shows healthy, blooming native plants, layers of natural hillside, and hand-hewn cedar fence posts.

Or I could tell you that there's a state highway up above a mis-matched bunch of broken-down fence around an overgrown cemetery.

Both are true.
Which made you feel better?

Help others to see beauty and to feel abundance.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Confidence deepens

Karen James wrote:

"Be present. Be engaged. Celebrate the joy of a child doing anything and everything they feel thrilled about. Notice what they're learning as they play and watch. It's all pretty amazing. Build on what you learn about your child. Confidence deepens when a child is supported in whatever they find captivating. Confidence grows for the parent when they're paying attention to what the child is learning from their chosen activities."
—Karen James
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, November 7, 2016


Another year, another hemisphere, flowers now gone.

Orion in New Zealand

Seasons and flowers are variable, and local. Deserts and jungles, mountains and shorelines, all have special things to discover at different times of the day, and of the season, and of the year.

Be still and appreciate the many peaceful moments. Store up gentle memories.
photo by Jihong Tang

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Patterns from reflection

Barbara Handley wrote:

"Quiet time is an integral aspect of self-discovery --- apparent periods of laziness can actually be the most fruitful intellectual and spiritual discovery times. Imagine a sand art frame...first you shake it and the result is a chaotic pattern of colored sand and water; then you let it rest. The sand falls to the bottom of the frame forming intricate and beautiful patterns which would never be revealed if you continued to shake the frame. The same applies to our process of positively integrating information so that we can make sense of the world; time for reflection and contemplation is a critical part of the process, allowing the patterns to be revealed."
—Barbara Handley

Quote's source
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Old and new

New things are added to old things. Antiques are repaired. New children meet old people. Forgotten toys are re-discovered.
Change is part of growth, of life, of past and of future.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 4, 2016


I grew up not far from Camel Rock, which was on US 285 near Pojoaque, where my dad worked. All of that is in north-central New Mexico.

Does it really look like a camel? Probably it helps that everyone calls it "camel rock." There was another sandstone formation north of there that my very-young sister called "camel elephant"... because it looked like an elephant's trunk to her. Words can help us see things that aren't there, confusing us and others.

The important thing is that it's not a real camel. Consider what is "natural" and what is perception, language and culture (all of which are also natural). Find joy in words and imagery, but try not to let them confound you.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Stretch your thinking

"There are loads of places I can go to get people to agree with the standard mode of thought. Why would I want more of that? I'm not looking for approval of what I do. I'm looking for people who will stretch my thinking and help me grow."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Holly is 25

November 2 is Holly's birthday, and in 2016 she's turning 25.
Holly grew up with two older also-unschooled brothers.
Thank you, all who have befriended
and been kind to Holly.
photo by Holly Dodd herself

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thinking and feeling

How are you thinking?
How are you feeling?

How you are thinking and feeling is how you are living and learning.
photo by Marta Venturini Machado