Sunday, November 29, 2020

Figuring out how to read

How will they learn to read?

In school or out, every child learns to read in his own way, as he figures it out. Different people read different ways. Some are more visual, and some are sounding out letters, and some are reading groups of words.

Reading is complex, but teaching rarely helps. Until a child's brain and body are mature in various mysterious ways so that he can process the visual information and connect it to the language inside him in a manner that completes the puzzle for him, he cannot read, whether he's in school or not. Some children are three, some are thirteen, but shame and pressure never help.

Answers to the Most Repeated Unschooling Questions of All Time
photo by Chris Sanders

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Emotional well-being

amusement park tower with spinning swing seats, with flags

Emotional health and emotional well-being are as important, if not more so, as physical health.
—Jenny Cyphers

Moving Toward Less Control, Concerning Food
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, November 27, 2020

Color and form

Look for patterns and unique expressions, all around you. There will be packing materials, automobiles, tea mugs, hats and toys to serve as sculpture and utilitarian design, even if you're stuck at home.

Look out your window. Look AT your window.

some other windows
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Find wonder where you wander

"Watch and listen to you kids. Let yourself get caught up in what they find wonderful and in the process rediscover wonder itself."
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Learning without effort

When unschooling is working really well, learning will be happening, for kids and parents, without effort.
The Fabric of Life
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Calm and patience

Jenny Cyphers wrote, in 2014:

It's such a big part of our culture to get it done now, fix it all now, make it happen now, do, do, do, do. Sometimes what life really requires is calm and patience. A very valuable thing to learn in life is to how to take care of ourselves and others during times of stress and times that aren't ideal and wonderful.
—Jenny Cyphers

Moments: Living in moments instead of by whole days
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, November 23, 2020

Next week, next year, next century

early 20th century downtown building with early 20th century theater added on

People DO think of next week. They think of last week. But they're doing their thinking from inside their present selves.

Balance depends on the fulcrum. Be solid. Be grounded.
Be whole, and be here.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Present peace

Move from long-term worries to present peace.

Leave your kids alone to play, to sleep, to watch videos, to draw, or whatever they want to do.

Feed them. Water them. Love them. Wait.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Shine the light

In advice to a fearful mom, Tara Joe Farrel wrote:

Unschooling advice—or deschooling oneself—does not change just because the kids get older: *Get closer to your child.*

Eliminate those degrees of separation that have started to grow fearful roots in you! When that happens, *you* actually start to *create* that divisiveness and separation in your relationship, by listening to your fear over the needs and interests of your kid. Do not let that monster in! Shine the light on the scary cobwebs and dark stuff.

—Tara Joe Farrell
Shining light on it
photo by Karen James
(click to enlarge)


Friday, November 20, 2020

More or less

The more you do for children, the less needy they will be.

(When your choice is "more or less," go with more.)

Being your child's PARTNER, not his adversary:
photo by Sarah Elizabeth

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Kind and respectful

Even within one breed, there are personalities. Even within one family, some kids are very "with It" about interpersonal realities, and others a little more clue-free.

Still It seems kind and respectful to assume the best when possible, and people can be pleasantly surprised.

If we treat all dogs (and children) as "bad dogs," they will probably respond In that way, too.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a stranger-dog in Austin
whose people had provided him a window

click for another view of that fence

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Choose peaceful moments

"Begin by living each day with your kids in moments. Not days or the school calendar. Make one peaceful moment, then CHOOSE your next peaceful choice. String together peaceful moments."
—Tara Joe Farrell
One peaceful moment
photo by Meg Oh

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Make home sparkly

Jo Isaac wrote:

What do your kid LOVE to do in the home? Do more of it. Buy more of it. Make home as sparkly as you can. Buy fancy foods, buy take-away dinners from different cultures, make extravagant hot chocolates, put your Christmas decorations up early, plan a cool advent calendar event, plan to watch a bunch of cool movies, etc.
—Jo Isaac

Sparkly Unschooling is a good match,
but the original is here on facebook
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, November 16, 2020

Handle life carefully

antique 'explosives' sign

The fewer things you say or do to make things worse, the better things will be.
photo by Marty Dodd

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Openings in walls

Windows and doors keep things in and let things out. Some of the most beautiful parts of everyday life, and of exotic or glorious architecture, involve those openings and their closures.

This blog is about half tagged. Newer posts, and 2010-2014 are finished. I'm still working on those middle years, so these links will lead to more images as time passes.

Enjoy peeking in, and out, or wondering about other people's doors and windows.

photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Running for fun

If you're able to run for fun, you should find more reasons to do it!

Sometimes people get too old, or they're hurt, or it's too cold, or other factors keep running from happening. If you can run, run some for the rest of us!
Running in the Fog
Recovering (photo of someone running on water, in a big ball)
photo by Chelsea Thurman Artisan

Friday, November 13, 2020

Let it fade

Every day he's away from school, negative effects will fade.

But just as with any scab, scratching it and rubbing dirt in it isn't as good as letting it heal. So when school is no longer a part of the child's life, it's good to turn away from the school and let it fade into the distant past. Repeating and reciting and retelling the school problem keeps it alive and present. has the quote. The original is here.
I made one small change, up above.
photo by Renee Cabatic

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Busy lives

Although the ideal is to focus on one thing at a time, moms with kids (dads too, sometimes) can become expert at two things at once, and it can be fun. Think of times you've tasted two tastes together, or heard two things at once. Sometimes they blend; sometimes they are jarring.

It's easy to see two things at once, or to notice a combination or juxtaposition you would not have expected.

Thinking many thoughts, and deciding which to keep and which to set aside is the basis of choices, and of wise decision making!
Whirl and twirl
photo by Jihong Tang

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

An intellectual process

a series of small pools, with little waterfalls between, on a slope in the mountains in India
Pam Sorooshian wrote:

This whole unschooling journey was very very much an intellectual process for me—a process of developing deeper and deeper understanding by reading and listening to others, thinking hard about what I'd read and heard, applying what made sense, paying attention to how things were going, waiting a little, trying out other ideas that seemed to make sense, and continuing that process for all the years I had children—taking in input of others ideas and experiences, considering and analyzing, acting on my own conclusions, observing my own family dynamics—all at the same time.
—Pam Sorooshian

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch

The quote lives at Understanding Unschooling
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Clouds and water

small clouds reflected in a lake
Clouds and water are two forms of the same material. Water can reflect clouds, too. Clouds can cast shadow on water.

There won't be a test, but sometimes consider how other things can be "the same," yet very different. Our perceptions depend on light, angles, our own knowledge and history. What you see isn't everything. What you know is smaller than the whole.

Be open to beauty and joy.

A Different Angle
photo by Jen Keefe

Monday, November 9, 2020

Accessible enlightenment

Janine wrote:
When my family started unschooling, my partner and I felt the spirituality of it immediately...
. . . .
It's grounded, realistic, accessible enlightenment.

Read the whole thing, halfway down this page:

photo by Sandra Dodd, of the calliope on an English carousel
that now lives in a mall in California

Sunday, November 8, 2020

It's all information

Respect trivia.

For school kids, "trivia" means "won't be on the test."

In the absence of tests, where all of life is learning, there IS no "trivia." There is only information.

Principles of Learning (chat transcript)
photo by Sandra Dodd, of tile in Austin

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Pollution you might not notice

This was written and first published in 2011; there are more readers now.

Someone wrote elsewhere, about Just Add Light and Stir:
I really didn’t like Sandra’s blog, sure there is a lot of useful information, but the “cheerful” tone creeps me out!
A lot of useful information would be sufficient, I think, for a daily blog with over 800 subscribers. But I'm creeping someone out with a "'cheerful' tone"?! First, it's not "cheerful" in quotes, not allegedly cheerful. It actually *is* cheerful. 🙂

Cynicism is poison. It erodes relationships. It saps one's spirit and dissolves faith and hope. I will choose cheeriness over pissiness anytime I can manage to do it, and I hope most of those reading here are able to make that choice too, for the sake of themselves and their families. For their neighbors, for their dogs. For safety while operating motor vehicles and other machinery. For success at work, and joy while grocery shopping.

Negativity sucks. It sucks the possibility of a joyful life directly out of a person, and if it's not stopped, it will spread to others.

Smiles can spread, too, though. Kindness can be contagious. You choose a hundred times a day to smile or to frown, to breathe in joy or to suck in resentment.

Live responsibly, especially while you have children in your home.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in the alley behind the house, in 2011

Friday, November 6, 2020

All-terrain principles

I got really good at being an unschooling mom to a six year old, and I got to repeat my tricks another couple of times, though each child was different. I didn't know ANYthing about having a twelve year old, though. And stuff like that kept on happening!!

Living by principles is what helps us keep moving smoothly even though the terrain is new.

me, in a discussion at Always Learning that has several great posts by others
photo by Karen James

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Relax into peace

"Power struggles can disappear when the person with the power stops struggling."
—Deb Lewis

Kirby Dodd age five asleep under a rocking chair
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Options and possibilities

Jennifer Wells wrote:

Sit with your child and notice what they love. Offer options and possibilities and help them do as much as they want of what they love. Let them explore, refuse, experiment, and leave aside—in that process they will learn and learn and learn!
—Jennifer Wells
(a directory page about ways to be with, and for, children)

photo by Amber Ivey

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Much better

There are no "violent video games." Kids are sitting on a couch in their parents' home pushing buttons on a remote control. That's not hurting them or anyone else. (Or young adults are home sitting and pushing buttons, instead of being out drinking or vandalizing something.)

In every single case of real-life violence anyone can think of, wouldn't it have been better if the perpetrator had been home on the couch than out causing trouble? 🙂
photo by Sandra Dodd in 2012,
of a cool casual arrangement of stuff at Lisa Jonick's house

Monday, November 2, 2020

Learning leaps and lingers

School creates the illusion that learning is a smooth curve, divided into hours, units, terms, years. Sometimes unschooling parents look for that.

Often, learning happens suddenly, like a flash. A person "gets it" or makes a connection between two things. It's fine to rest for a few days after that!

Folklorists who study traditional ballads say "A ballad leaps and lingers." Later, films did that, too. Though many ballads are ancient-old, they are a bit like movies. They might start in the middle of an action scene, or with a mysterious dilemma. A scene might be portrayed in great detail, and the next scene pick up six months or three years later in the story. Learning can be that way.

Doing something "in fits and starts" means there are stretches of quiet nothing, and then suddenly things are happening. Then nothing, again, for a while. Learning is like that.

In the novel Shogun, the character Mariko says early on:

We have a saying that time has no single measure, that time can be like frost, or lightning, or a tear, or siege, or storm, or sunset, or even like a rock.
Try not to measure.

The learning Curve of Unschoolers
photo by Karen James

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Slowly and patiently

"If a frustrated child is frustrating you, then find ways to eliminate things that frustrate your child. Go more slowly, be more patient in each and every interaction."
photo by Amber Ivey