Friday, July 31, 2020

Right here, again

Holly Dodd wrote a warm memory:

I am seven years old. I am sitting comfortably with a convenient, safe place to rest my face. Safe. On my father's lap . . . Knowing it is not only ok, but expected of me, to fall asleep. Right here where I already am. My dad will tuck me in when he is done holding me, and it will hardly be my business.

I left out the middle. There is more at: Sleep-related memories
photo by Holly Dodd

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Here! Present.

Live in the moment, and the moment is not in the past.
Live in the moment, in the world where you are.
(I left a few words out, but restore them if you need them!)
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thinking this way or that

I think in words. My husband thinks in patterns. So people think more of emotions or colors, or of biological needs.

When I don't know what something is, I can't think of it in words. Sometimes that will happen—one's usual mode or "setting" isn't available, or isn't working! Think about how you think.

Something can be beautiful even if you don't know what it is.
photo by Nina Kvitka

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Knowledge / Acknowledge

In your home are homey things, and some were gifts, or were found, or inherited. In your kitchen, something was made by hand, or found in an attic, maybe. There might be a favorite bowl, or a cup with a story. We have one special spoon. I like the hand towels. I got tea for my birthday.

Who showed you how to scramble eggs? When did you learn to bake? What do you think about how to arrange your refrigerator?

Is there flexibility in there? Are there more reasons to laugh than to fear?

Be open to happy memories and gratitude for your knowledge and equipment.

Gratitude for Common, Simple, Homey Things
photo by Holly Dodd (in the reflection) of Sandra (behind the spoon)

P.S. If anything above brought up sad or stressful memories, consider rearranging the cabinet that contains the voices in your head. Here's help:

Monday, July 27, 2020

Quick! They're gone!

Older moms say "Appreciate your kids. They'll be grown before you know it."

Younger moms think it's rude, and wrong, and can hardly endure the endless days of damp, stinky babies and toddlers, and messy, destructive, needy three and four year olds, and...

Life is made of stages that can seem long. I've had young children and felt sticky and crowded and exhausted. I've had teens I started to miss before they were gone.

Wherever you are, breathe and be patient and loving.
photo by Ester Siroky

Sunday, July 26, 2020


Artistry and creativity can be practiced and expressed in sweet, homey, temporary ways. Unfamiliar combinations of familiar things are the basis of much art, science, and humor.

New combinations
photo by Amber Ivey

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Art credits for LND 2020

Photo credits:
(Links lead to the Just Add Light and Stir post in which the art appeared first.)

L — Amber Ivey
E — Jihong Tang
A — Alex Polikowsky
R — Cass Kotrba
N — Shonna Morgan

N — Vlad Gurdiga
O — Karen James
T — Lisa Jonick
H — Holly Dodd
I — Nina Haley
N — Brie Jontry
G — Gail Higgins

D-A-Y — Janine Davies

Concept and offer of a remake: Holly Dodd
Outlined letters: Sandra Dodd— ("Similar to last time but different," Holly instructed)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Learn Nothing Day starts at midnight

Learn Nothing Day begins circling the world soon, from one midnight to another, from New Zealand through Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, India, Kuwait, Moldova, South Africa, western Europe... a little lull across the Atlantic to Brazil, while the others wake up and see how well they can do at not learning for just one day. A holiday. Un-"School break."

New Art from Rotterdam, 2018
new photos underlaid by Saskia Ruder
click to enlarge

Dear reader:
If you are near the areas listed above and I left you out, let me know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Thoughts can lift you up.

I can breathe and be still and not be knocked down by thoughts. Thoughts can lift me up. I can turn down the volume. I can switch channels.

Too much noise
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Up with choices!

When a child has come up from infancy with choices, she won't be desperately grasping for evidence of personal power and autonomy when she's older.
photo by Sarah S.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Good, healthy, nice, different

"Remember that unschooling is not just not taking the kids to school. It is building a good relationship with them, a healthy relationship with them, and creating a nice environment for them, different from school. So that is part of our responsibilities as unschooling parents—to heal ourselves."
—Alicia Gonzalez-Lopez

Deschooling with Alicia Gonzales-Lopez,
interviewed by Pam Laricchia, March 2020 (44:25)
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Grateful and kind

Be grateful for opportunities to be kind to your children.

A font of "yes!"
photo by Elaine Santana

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Local treasures

In your town are things, places, crafts, traditions, that are not universal.

What is local and "everyday" can seem boring, dusty, even embarrassing maybe. "Those old buildings," with their uneven floors, dusty corners, antique windows, are gloriously exotic to people from two thousand miles away, or ten thousand miles away.

We might be limited to photos for a while. It's that crazy year, 2020, and it might be the best time to start appreciating where you are, and what is special about your own town.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, July 17, 2020

Playing—around, with, seriously

There's a difference between playing a game and playing with a game. Yet another thing is to play with game pieces or parts. Find value in all of those things.

Sometimes adults want a child to "do it right," but if the goal is learning, and thinking, the child is probably better at it than the parent!
photo by Linda Malchor

Thursday, July 16, 2020

How quiet can you be?

Some people are better than others at waiting, quietly, for another to make the next move.

If quiet doesn't come naturally to you, a starting place is to take one slow breath before you respond, or before asking a question that doesn't really need to be asked. From inside you it might seem like a long time, but from the outside it will not. During that breath, consider whether two breaths would help even more.

Practice, quietly
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Remember that things seem different different times to different people. My perspective when I'm stressed or sad will be colored by that. Things shift and change.

Live lightly.

Light and Lightness
photo by Belinda Dutch

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Natural growth

An apple seed grows an apple tree. No person ever born knows more about how an apple tree should naturally grow than that apple seed, if it's left to grow naturally.

I'm old enough now that I've grown trees from transplanted saplings, and from seeds I planted myself. I cannot
predict or control or affect what kind of tree it will become. What I can do is make sure it's watered and protected from damage by animals, foot traffic, and lawn mowers. If it has what it needs, it will grow as it should.

If a child has what she needs, she will grow as she should. I know how to mess a kid up, and have chosen to try not to do those things. I'm trying to let them grow as they should.
(Follow-up page for a 2009 conference)

photo by Amber Ivey

Monday, July 13, 2020

Better right away

The second you have a positive attitude, even fleetingly, your life is better, right then.

Thoughts about doing better
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, July 12, 2020

You don't need to break your bad habits

Leave the old habit to wither. Don't try to break it. Move to making better choices so that what you used to do and used to think will be left in the "choices I don't consider anymore" category.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, July 11, 2020

They learned and learned

Caren Knox wrote:

I undertook learning how to be a good unschooling mom, and in that learning, experienced some of the most powerful personal growth and healing I’d ever seen in myself. I learned how to be vulnerable with and genuinely present for my guys.

They learned — and learned and learned, without having to be subject to someone else’s imposed timeline of when to learn what, without being limited to staying in a building 6-7 hours a day, five days a week, without having to pretend to learn something to pass a test, without having their grades determine their path. They freely explored their interests, utilized their own strengths and perspectives, and learned, and, as adults, continue to learn.
—Caren Knox

Original, on facebook
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, July 10, 2020

Kids are people

Except in the few obvious ways, I don't treat my children in a lesser way than I treat my husband. It has been crucial to our interactions as an unschooling family that the kids were people first, and kids only incidentally and temporarily.

That was written nearly 20 years ago,when Always Learning was new
Now they're adults, so it was true! They were only temporarily children.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Helping relationships

can help relationships
in all kinds of ways.

Broken relationships
can harm unschooling
in all kinds of ways.

Benefits of Unschooling when the Teen Years Arrive
photo by Daniel Moyer Artisan
__ __

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Gradually and sensibly

It's a Very Bad Idea to "start unschooling" before you know what you're doing. The more rules a family had, the more gradually and sensibly they need to move toward saying yes.

The happy ideas to go with that are at Gradual Change.
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The best of bad dreams

I went to school for 15 years straight, and most summer sessions from 8th grade through university.

Beginning in the 4th grade, I had a nightmare the night before the first day of school every single time, and I came to count on it as a checklist. The first few were small and kind of standard, like I got off the bus in only my slip, or I had my house shoes on, or I didn't know whose class I was supposed to be in.

Over the years these dreams blossomed into extravaganzas of mishap, and they were always so real I'd wake up in a panic thinking I'd gotten off to such a horrible start the whole year would be a total disaster. Then I'd realize the whole year was still ahead of me and I'd get out of bed and do all the things right that had gone wrong in the dream.

The night before my first day as a classroom teacher I dreamed I didn't have a grade book or a pen. Next day I did. That one, my first checklist dream as an employed adult, made me start to wish for more.

I wrote all of that in the early 1980s, before I had children. Checklist dreams have continued, or stress dreams where I had lost a child's shoes, or had forgotten to order a cake, or didn't have gas in the car.

If you can make checklists out of fears, worries, and stress dreams, and your life is better because you think "Well I won't let THAT happen," what a gift!
Use happy advantages wherever you can find them.

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers
photo by Sandra Dodd

[P.S. for those who are good with numbers, and didn't like "15 years": I didn't go to kindergarten, and graduated from public school a year early. Four years of university, graduated in May 1974, turned 21 that summer. Then I taught for six years. I was quickly learning about learning!]

Monday, July 6, 2020

Warm food

Offering a child food instead of waiting for him to ask has been frowned upon by some people as being pressure. I think that's wrong.

Asking for cold pantry-food, or needing to ask someone to cook something isn't nearly as good as smelling food cooking, or seeing nicely-arranged food that's immediately available if you want it.

The Full Plate Club
photo by Jen Keefe

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Warm (not cold)

If every conscious decision is taken with the intention of getting closer to the way one wants to be, then in a "getting warm / getting cold" way, it's not nearly as distant as one might have thought. You never even have to leave your regular house, car, family. It's right where you are, only the thoughts are different.

May you have warm relationships, warm feelings, a warm home, warm food and a warm bed.

The top paragraph is a quote from
photo by Sandra Dodd

In 2011, this went out in January, during summer in the southern hemisphere. Greetings, readers in Australia and New Zealand! Have some warmth in a better season. I don't think Brazil or South Africa need much heat, and most other readers are equatorial or northerly.

The whole world could use the warm relationships and feelings, and I wish everyone good options!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

What is needed?

There is personal growth in quietly providing what is needed.

The world is made better by those who notice and attend to needs.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, July 3, 2020

What ARE these things!?

In 2007 trying to talk someone out of using "screentime" for purposes of limiting a child:

When you're driving, the glass in front of you can be called a windscreen. Americans usually call it "wind shield." But is that screen time?

I think you should call things computer, tv, movie, etch-a-sketch. But even computer, sometimes I'm watching movies, sometimes I'm writing. Sometimes I'm reading e-mail or looking at my kids' MySpace. Sometimes I'm shopping. Sometimes it's research (quite a bit lately, reading in and about 16th century Bibles in English, early editions of The Book of Common Prayer). So I can't even call it "computer time" as though it's all the same thing.

Sometimes Kirby is playing World of Warcraft. It's partly keyboard, and partly talking to his team on a headset.
Sometimes he's playing Guitar Hero, with the guitar controller.
Sometimes he's playing stand-up-and-move Wii games.

Are those three "screen time"?

The original is about 2/5 of the way down at My 4 year old and the DVD player
Newer (post-MySpace) writings about screentime are at Screentime Index Page

photo by Belinda Dutch

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Playful lives

My three children grew up around adults who played, not just putting on feasts and tournaments and building
medieval-looking camps, but also playing strategy board games and mystery games, having costume parties when it wasn't even Halloween, and making up goofy song parodies on long car rides.

Maybe because I kept playing I had an advantage, but I don't think it is beyond more serious adults to regain their playfulness.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sharing time and space

Connections are the best part of learning, in unschooling, in life, for fun. But if it’s too noisy too often, a quiet moonrise over a lake will get all sound-polluted. And one person’s thoughts of beauty might be overrun by someone else’s free associations.

Gaze without speaking / Explore Connections
photo by Janine Davies