Thursday, November 30, 2017


If you've seen all the cool things on the shelves at your house, look at other people's shelves!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


"What I like most about rivers is
You can't step in the same river twice;
The water's always changing,
Always flowing."
—Stephen Schwartz lyrics, for Pocahontas to sing

Just Around the Riverbend
photo by Lydia Koltai

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Colorful Colours

Natural colors, accidental designs, artist-chosen combinations. However you spell it, find and name some coloured colorations that you might have missed otherwise.

Learning to see Differently
photo by Joyce Fetteroll

Monday, November 27, 2017


Keith and I installed that peekhole in our front door when Marty was little. Now Marty is 28 and lives in that house with his wife of three years, who is expecting a child.

What you see from your own house, through your own eyes, starts small. The way you see the world as you're growing up can be like a peekhole. We will never be able to see out through others' front doors, as they do. We can't see through their eyes.

Remember your view, no matter how vast it becomes, is personal and limited.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Some children have seasons of wanting to cocoon at home (some adults, too). Sometimes an unschooled child will go through a year or two of not wanting to go out. And some are inclined to be inward-looking.

I think in Howard Gardner's intelligence theory, this might perhaps involve more intrapersonal intelligence than average. But there are artists and writers who prefer a great deal of time alone, too. And even among those with kinesthetic intelligence, there are some who prefer hiking, climbing or skiing. There are those who practice sleight-of-hand and juggling for many hours alone. There are musicians who play a thousand hours in private for every hour they might share with others.

Slightly edited from the page Time for Solitude
photo by Sabine Mellinger

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Arts and sciences

Art, engineering, form and function. See beauty not only in exotic or historical things, but also in newer, serviceable objects.

Even brooms and dustpans are designed and created to be attractive and serviceable.

Some art is seasonal and fleeting. Does someone in your family wrap gifts beautifully? Make beautiful cookies?
Everyday Art
photo by Broc Higgins

Friday, November 24, 2017


Conditions change for many reasons. Comfort levels vary.

Even one small improvement can positively affect a moment, a mood, a person, a family.
photo by Karen James

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Visits make memories. I still remember places I visited when I was very young. I recall things I ate, saw, heard, discovered, and learned. The houses and places are like characters in the book of me.

For everyone who has hosted my kids when I wasn't there, I'm grateful. They have memories of many things I didn't see.

My life is richer for visits as an adult, being able to see architecture in neighborhoods unlike my own, happy homey artistry and collections of everyday things, oddities, back yards and gardens.

Take your kids visiting. Have guests. What is small and routine for you might last forever in them.

Unschooling Very Well
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Clarity and focus

Clarity and focus make things easier.

Muddly confusion make things harder.
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Preserve joy

With kids in the house, wanting mom's positive attention, the creation and preservation of joy provides a better environment for the whole family.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 20, 2017

Helpful and supportive

I have suggested to parents of infants to imagine that a child comes with a book of coupons for saying "No" 200 times (pick a number; I've said 300 before, too). That is how many times a parent can say "No," and the child really listen.
So it's good not to use them all up in the first year or two, because the child won't hear you anymore. It's good to save a few dozen for when they're teens and it's crucial.

To extend that to marriage, how many hateful statements can a relationship endure? How many fights will crack the foundation? Keep hate out of your house. Only say helpful, supportive things.

Parents who wouldn't dream of telling a child he is stupid seem not to notice saying similar things to that child's other parent. Don't be hateful, and save your fights for very important things in the distant future. (If the rest of this goes well, you might never need those.)
photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mom in the middle

The mom is in the middle. She's the pivot point, the center, the way in which all these people are related.

A mom was worried about being in the middle, in a situation involving her husband and four children.

Being a Happy Mom
has other encouragement for moms.
photographer unknown, but the mom is "jakesmom"/Vicki

Friday, November 17, 2017

Real learning is intangible

Karen James wrote:"Real learning is a breath. Ethan said something kind of funny to my husband recently. He exclaimed "Now you are breathing consciously!" We all became aware of our breathing in that moment. Learning can become as effortless as unconscious breathing when we it happens without prejudice or too much attention to its presence. It's so big it permeates through everything we do, yet so intangible at times we can only guess at its influence and significance."
Becoming an Unschooler
photo by Heather Booth

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Truly worthless

Truth can still be worthless, and a worthless statement might still be true. Cosmic. So profound I need a nap.

I think this illustrates the commutative property of cosmic profundity.
I wrote it in a collection of worthless statements, here.
Photo by Sandra Dodd, of a miniature golf hole in Rochester, Minnesota.
Miniature golf is not worthless, but that's not real water.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Abundance and gratitude

"If it's not one thing, it's another."

People usually say that of problems or frustrations. But what about gourds, and little girls, and music, and humor?

If you practice finding abundance, if it's not one thing, it will be another.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


"Round" is whole, and strong. Something circular can represent completion or continuation.

When everyone has had a turn that's a round of cards, or a round of play in a boardgame. At a celebration, "a round" can mean everyone has a drink.

Around. Surround. Some things, you think of as being "all around" you, or "all around" everywhere. You might be surrounded by things like ... air. Potential friends. Opportunities. Love. Surprises.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a carousel near a round barn in Vermont

Monday, November 13, 2017

Do one thing better

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

Insecurities about something big like unschooling, is natural. What I've done with those thoughts, is to actively do one thing better. Then another, and another. And another.

Unschooling is built on these small and thoughtful acts that change the bigger picture over time. Each change or tweak, or alteration we make that positively impacts the way we interact with our children, can really only help. Without those little changes, we stagnate. We don't grow. And as a result, unschooling doesn't become better.
Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Quite quiet

look without narrating.
Think without voicing.

Too much commentary can make words less valuable.

See shadows and sunshine and shapes and children without always saying so.
photo by Sandra Dodd, who talks too much

Saturday, November 11, 2017


It's not about "success," it's about progress, and living in the moment as well as possible.
photo by Sabine Mellinger

Friday, November 10, 2017

A wonderful thing

"One of the wonderful things about unschooling is that we come to understand that children are learning all the time. Knowing that, we can make thoughtful choices about how we'd like to influence that learning. We cannot control what is learned, but we can create an environment in which joyful learning can thrive."
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Heat and light

If I have a big woodpile, I don't have a fire. Even if I have a fireplace and matches and bellows and kindling and firestarters and a fire extinguisher and the chimney was just cleaned and inspected and I have a paper saying "good to go," I don't have a fire. Would wrought-iron fire tools on a cool rack help? What about a stained-glass fireplace screen, so no sparks can get out on the floor? I could subscribe to magazines for fireplace owners. I could join a yahoo group and a facebook page to talk about fires. I could be receiving catalogs with all kinds of fancy flameproof rugs and indoor wood racks and really cool slings for carrying wood in, and Ooh! What about a beautiful mantle?

Still no fire.

Meanwhile, the neighbors might have build a real, operating fire, in a little hole they dug and lined with scrap bricks or rocks, with wood they found in a vacant lot, and kindled it with old receipts and fast-food wrappers they found blown into the alley. Their fire has heat, their fire has light, if they're sitting around it talking and laughing, they have the benefit of the fire.

Some people want to look like they're interested and that they intend to hone their skills, but they don't actually want to do it, if it's going to involve any real combustion or change in them.

A Story of NOT Changing
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a fire in our own back yard,
not in a hole, but quite make-shift, 2012

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Megan Fenn wrote:

I no longer look for learning when they are watching shows or playing games. I know they are learning.

I used to watch for it as part of my “try a little” practise to see the value in what they are doing. I don’t do that anymore. I know what they do has value because they value it. And I know they are learning because they learn from everything they do.
—Megan Fenn

Read a little...
photo by Nina Gold

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Only a child?

"Respect" is not a light thing. It's not easy to respect your child, when it's new to you. There will be people encouraging you to see your child as "just a kid," and "only a child." Think of adults you respect, and think of them as ten years old, four years old, two, newborn. They were those people from birth. There was a newborn Mohandas Gandhi; a four-year-old Abraham Lincoln; an eight-year-old Oprah Winfrey; a twelve-year-old Winston Churchill.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, November 6, 2017

The learning and the beauty

"It's all about that mind shift isn't it? It applies to so much in how unschooling works or doesn't work. If you can't see the learning and the beauty, you will have a hard time unschooling. It seems to work best in all those small ways that add up to the bigger picture."
photo by Chrissy Florence

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A little and a lot

"Depth and breadth—creating a lifestyle in which kids are offered the opportunity to learn a lot about some things and a little about a lot of things."
photo by Sandra Dodd

I wanted to call this post "Depth and Breadth", but I've already used that title.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Trivial connections

Sometimes to understand a joke, people have to know three or four different things already. Sometimes a piece of humor ties together LOTS of trivia/learning in ways other things can't do.
photo by Megan Valnes

Friday, November 3, 2017

Peace and calm

Peace and calm are really good things all in and of themselves. Enjoyment/JOY is better for health than all the "health rules" in the world.
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Be that way

"Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful. Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible."
—Pam Sorooshian
photo by Chrissy Florence

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Stages and balance

Children grow up, but all the stages of their childhood stay alive in their parents' memories.
Balancing, stages, profiles
photo of Marty, a dozen years ago, by Holly Dodd