Friday, May 31, 2019

Sweet and supportive

The parents' job is to create and maintain a rich environment, and to be attentive to the child, and sweet and supportive.
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Diligently and happily and well

By unschooling diligently and happily and well for a long time, families and people have sometimes been changed.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Joyce wrote:

"Our role is to walk by their sides as they explore, not let them explore on their own. At times we need to hang back and be quiet so they can have the time and freedom to explore something that fascinates them. At times we need to share their enjoyment and be with them (even if it's the umpty gajillionth rerun of Spongebob Squarepants ;-) At times we need to point things out. At times we need to share the things we love. At times we need to take them to places they wouldn't know to explore."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Seeing the world anew

Below, above; inside, outside. Objects, people and places look different, and are different, when the viewpoint changes.

Adults can never again see the world as a child does, but some can quietly watch a child see things for the first time. With practice, and with wonder, even adults can see the world anew.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Monday, May 27, 2019

Knowing peace

The more local and personal peace there is, the more peace there will be in the world.
. . . .
If we raise the level of peace our children expect, they will know what peace feels like.

Read what Esther Maria Rest wrote, at
photo by Colleen Prieto

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Choose better

Here's an idea that will work with just about every aspect of life: Every time you make a decision, wait until you've thought of two choices and choose the better one.

It seems simple, but I was surprised, when I thought of that way to ratchet the quality of life up, to find how many times I was acting without really thinking.
photo by Sandra Dodd, at the River of Lights, Albuquerque, 2011

Friday, May 24, 2019

Creating history

Remember you don't need a museum to find things your kids will be fascinated by and learn from. You probably have things right in your home that would not only connect to history, but it might be their history. And will be from then on, anyway. Things we have from thrift stores aren't from my family, but for my grandchildren they will be from their family.

Marta Venturini shared that in 2014, from
Your House as a Museum (chat transcript)
and facebook shared it back to both of us this week.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Be that way

Be the way you want your children to be, and they will want to be like you.
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The sky

"Look at those sticks poking out of the sky!!"
—Gail Higgins
the photographer

What you see
is what you think.
photo by Gail Higgins

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ease into change

Instead of just going from lots of control to "do whatever you want," a really sweet way to do it is quickly but gradually. Quickly in your head, but not all of a sudden in theirs. Just allow yourself to say "okay" or "sure!" anytime it's not really going to be a problem.

If something isn't going to hurt anything (going barefoot, wearing the orange jacket with the pink dress, eating a donut, not coming to dinner because it's the good part of a game/show/movie, staying up later, dancing) you can just say "Okay."

And then later instead of "aren't you glad I let you do that? Don't expect it every time," you could say something reinforcing for both of you, like "That really looked like fun," or "It felt better for me to say yes than to say no. I should say 'yes' more," or something conversational but real.

The purpose of that is to help ease them from the controlling patterns to a more moment-based and support-based decision making mindset. If they want to do something and you say yes in an unusual way (unusual to them), communication will help. That way they'll know you really meant to say yes, that it wasn't a fluke, or you just being too distracted to notice what they were doing.
photo by Julie D

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Quiet depth and energy

Generally, parents and neighbors and friends tend to notice and maybe be impressed by a lot of noise and action and reaction. I'm happy to have learned, gradually, over the past 32+ years, that moving toward quiet acceptance and observation has more depth and energy and connection than a bunch of correction, direction and commentary, from parents to children.

in a discussion on Always Learning
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Time out / Update

Thanks to Pam Laricchia and her son Michael, pages are all opening on my website again. I'm giddy and grateful for the code they wrote for me to add in the header of my 404 page.

My husband, Keith, survived repeated cardiac arrest and over a month of hospitalization. This week he had his last of ten outpatient physical therapy sessions. He's graduated up through wheelchair and walker, to cane, to normal locomotion. I drive him to various appointments, and am glad to be with him.

Thank you for reading, for sympathy and for support.

from April 8, about how long Keith was in the hospital, and his first day home
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a bucket and shovel, in our son Marty's back yard this week

Friday, May 17, 2019

Calm and open

Unschoolers' support of their children's interests not only creates more peace at the time, and better relationships, but it keeps the world calm and open to them, for their dabbling, curiosity, and exploration.

from a facebook discussion about learning
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Charlie eats an apple

Sarah Dickinson wrote:

I was looking at the photos on my phone tonight and found this (Jack must have taken it, hence the angle). It is Charlie (3) eating an apple in front of the telly right beside of a full pot of sweets. I thought it was a rather lovely illustration of the choices kids make when they have them, and I thought of you because they never would have had that choice without all your writing.
—Sarah Dickinson
photo by Jack Dickinson

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


I wrote:
Many things are made better by slowing down. Touching a child is nicer in slow motion than abruptly. Responding to a question can be improved by a pause as long as a single breath.
Lisa J Haugen wrote:
That's why I love the 'add light and stir' blog title. It's such a lovely image—add a little bit, let it swirl into your life, and incorporate. Add a little more. Gently and slowly.
I edited Lisa's a tiny bit, and it was the end of something
a bit longer here, at Radical Unschooling Info
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A birthday pancake

Birthday breakfast!!! 🎉🎉🎉

"Mama! You made it a 5! AND it's a pancake?! With M&M's???! THANK YOU MAMA!!! This is the best breakfast EVER!"

Adventure! (same child, climbing)
photo by Roya Dedeaux, of Wyatt's birthday breakfast

Monday, May 13, 2019


The smaller the child, the bigger the small adventures seem.

When the world is new, adventure is all around.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Another Mother's Day

I would never have thought, growing up, that motherhood would be a central part of my life and identity. I didn't imagine, even when I had three children, that I was heading toward so much focus on the choices and possibilities involving relationships with children. Mother's Day seems like a normal day; didn't expect that.
—Sandra Dodd, 2010
(now, in 2019, a grandmother)

Disclaimer: Your Mother's Day mileage, date, traditions and experience may vary.
I know Mother's Day isn't a universal time or place.
photo by Karen James

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Old and new

It's good to see old things in new ways.

There is creativity in doing something unexpected with materials already on hand.

Learning can come from novel combinations.
Aging beauty
photo by Holly Dodd (long ago; I'm using it anew)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Get up and go!

People can't get to a destination just by reading the map. They need to get on the trail themselves and start to travel. They can change their minds and not go all the way, but they can't get anywhere just by reading and asking questions.

Unschoolers need to start seeing these things work in their own families. There's more to know, and more to think about, and people who will help with ideas and links, but nobody can "teach" another person how to unschool. They can help the other person start to figure it out, though.

from a discussion on Radical Unschooling Info
photo by Heather Booth

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Being calm about food

What has been "medically correct" about diet has changed over and over and over just within my lifetime—every part of a hamburger has been glorified and villified in turn. Every part of a pizza has been the best and worst part, at some point in the past 50 years. Skim milk/whole milk, margarine, artificial sweeteners, eggs, iceberg lettuce, honey, cheese, water (amounts), salt, wine, bread—terror or wonder.
Angels and devils
photo by Amy Milstein

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cat photos

My website is sketchy, and its host company is shown as down. If it's temporary, let's not worry. If it turns permanent, I'll do some sewing!

Meanwhile, please enjoy photos of cats, on this blog. For those who aren't allergic to cats, they can be soothing, calming, and entertaining. For those who are allergic, the photos can be fun.

For those allergic to cat photos, luckily it's a big internet, and you can click away. (Weirdo. No one is allergic to cat photos.)

Most or all of the cat photos
Photos by lots of people, at the link above.
This one is our cat, Mina, a Birman, in a photo I took.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Protection can backfire

Something Joyce Fetteroll wrote in September 2010:

What if you live your life fearing the worst and guarding against it? Your child will grow up immersed in the idea the world is scary and stronger than he is and he needs armor (or mom) to protect him. (As much as you might try, you won't be able to hide your fears from him.) Is that what you want?

Or he'll think you're full of baloney. He'll see people doing the things you fear—like drinking soda—and they're healthy and strong. He'll then realize you don't know what you're talking about and tune you out. That won't be so good when your fears are justified (like about unprotected sex and drinking and driving.)

Those are worst case scenarios but it's likely he'll have a bit of those if you live your life protecting him from the world.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Related ideas:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, May 6, 2019

Rationing "no"

What if each parent were issued a ration book of "NO" tickets when a child was born, and could only say "NO" two hundred times? Two hundred times in eighteen years... that's a lot of "no."

But I've seen parents say "no" five times in five minutes, to children in public places who just want to walk, or to be carried, or to touch something, or to see better, or to have a drink of water, or to have mom hold her hand, or to have one of those candy bars she's face to face with, or to stay a little longer, or to leave a little sooner, to ride in the cart or not ride in the cart. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Sometimes someone comes to one of the unschooling discussions, not knowing there are other ways, and offers the traditional "You're the boss, just say no" advice. I'm glad it has come to sound harsh and wrong. It shows me how far I've come.
photo by Brie Jontry, of ice melting and refreezing,
gradually sliding off a roof


Sunday, May 5, 2019

A sense of peace

"Radical unschooling can bring about such a sense of peace with one's own self, that it can be poured into the being of another."
—Megan Valnes
photo by Sam Baykus

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Nicer and more considerate

Being nicer makes one a nicer person.

Being nicer,
more considerate,
makes one a more considerate person.

Being nicer,
more compassionate,
makes one a more compassionate person.

Marta saved this. I don't know where I wrote it. Thank you, Marta (and others), for saving some of my scraps over the years so I can see them again, and share them.

Being nicer
photo by Destiny Dodd

Friday, May 3, 2019

Problems disappear

"Eating decisions"?

Choices. If ALL of that is changed to a model in which there is food, and people make choices—lots of small choices, not big "decisions"—a hundred hard problems disappear.

In one small moment, if a child can pick up a food or not; smell it or not; taste it or not; keep that bite and chew and swallow, or spit it out; take another bite or not; dip it in something or not; put another food with it or not—EVERYTHING changes.
photo by Karen James

Thursday, May 2, 2019

They don't owe me

My children didn't ask to be born. I was the one who wanted children. I invited them here by my actions and decisions. I owe them. I owe them food and friendship and protection. I owe them comfort if I can arrange it. I owe them the best of me, and to help nurture the best of them.
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

See the good; reflect it back

"Get to know your kids' strengths and set them up to succeed at using those strengths in all kinds of ways. Don't burden them with the perceived shortcomings you find. Let them navigate their own challenges while you focus on their potential. See the good in them and reflect it back. That seems to have been the best gift I've given my own son so far."
photo by Gail Higgins