Sunday, January 31, 2021

Where learning abounds

Unschooling should be rich, flowing and mindful living where learning abounds. Too many people see "living" as nothing more than the absence of death. Let's encourage sparkly, bubbly, warm and effusive lives.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The weather of the soul

Sometimes I get still. That's good, because sometimes I don't, and can't. If I were that zippy all the time, my body, mind and soul would probably wear out.

. . . .

When I was younger and I would change, I thought something was wrong with me. I was under the mistaken impression that personality and mood should be constants. Life is better when I think of those fluctuations as tides, or as the weather of the soul.

Cocooning and other stillness
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, January 29, 2021

Seeing, thinking, asking

In a discussion in which a very religious mom wrote that she would someday help her daughter navigate her beliefs, I responded:

What she believes won't be something that needs to be navigated. It will evolve as people answer her questions, and she sees and thinks and asks more questions.
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Effects and perspective

Here are some thoughts on effects and perspective.
The sun shines on, and in some ways, through me. I have a shadow. There are rays I can't perceive. I can produce some Vitamin D, with a bit of sunlight. I don't need to know anything, or think about it, for the sun to do what the sun does.
I can have an effect on other people. Some are aware and thinking about it, taking in ideas or words or emotions.

I'm easier to avoid than the sun is, for most people, except for my children. Your children are in your sphere, in your world, a part of your life.

What you do shines on, and sometimes through, your children. You affect them, and others can see the effect.
photos by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Peace and joy and love

Children need peace and joy and love. If the parents are going to be their sole providers in this home environment of learning, they need all the peace and love they would need from their parents and they need all the peace and love they were going to get from their teachers.

When a family is very negative, with a very cynical parent, they’re sacrificing the chance that maybe the teacher would have been happier than they are. So they need to be twice as peace-and-love as they might have been if they weren’t unschooling.

Changes in Parents
photo by Pushpa Ramachandran

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pure and joyful

When you hear or read something pure and joyful, maybe just bask in it, or add to it. Please try to think and make a choice, though, about whether to respond or to be quietly grateful that someone is courageous enough to express joy in a dangerously negative world.

Gratitude and choices
photo by Jihong Tang

Monday, January 25, 2021

Being better people

"I think it behooves us to be better people, to improve, breathe, understand, make the best choice, and keep learning."
—Jill Parmer

Thoughts about doing better (
photo by Lydia Koltai

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Be light

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

Be light.

words originally at Sunshine, November 2016
photo by Amber Ivey

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Lean toward it

You can lean—even without moving—with thoughts and decisions toward where you want to be.

Thanks to Rachel Miller for saving and sharing something I said during a presentation in Texas in April 2014.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, January 22, 2021

Knowledge grows and changes

My strongly held belief about most things is that no one knows for sure, knowledge grows and changes, but that stress and fear are always harmful.
photo by Janine Davies

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Kind, thoughtful and respectful

Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

If we want our children to be kind and thoughtful and treat others with respect we need to model that for them. We can make kids *act* respectful and act kind and act thoughtful but when we stop making them and give them the choice, they're unlikely to want to be kind, thoughtful and respectful of those who don't treat them that way.
—Joyce Fetteroll

(Joyce responding to someone who thought we were WRONG.)
photo by Ester Siroky

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mature without pretending

Most of the unschooled teens I've met had a calm and maturity that I'm not used to finding even in random adults in their 20's and 30's, who are sometimes awkwardly pretending to be mature, or sometimes still actively reveling in their new-adult freedom.

I've known teens (and am related to some) who are as comfortable with younger children as with older teens and adults and grandparents. They see people as people. They will be drawn to interesting people and will avoid dull or harsh people, but they don't choose by age.
Big Book of Unschooling, page 299 (258 in first edition)
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Rest and recovery

Sometimes a day comes when the best thing to do is to eat leftovers and hang out.

Don't feel bad about some slow days of rest and recovery.
(That link doesn't have those words, but it has calming ideas.)
photo by Katy Jennings

Monday, January 18, 2021

Soul, spirit, mind and heart

Gratitude is good for the soul, for the spirit, for the mind, for the heart.

Negativity and discouragement spiral down a hole.

Gratitude and choices
photo by Karen James

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Morals and optimism

I live without religion, but not without morals. I know that being good is better than "being bad" (harmful, thoughtless, irresponsible), and I know that optimism is better than negativity. That doesn't mean I think there is magic at work in the fact that stepping out into the day joyfully will make the day better. People don't need to have a construct of "manifestations" or wishes or visualizations to make good better than bad. It just is, in ways linguistic and logical and biochemical.

photo by Tessa Onderwater

The quote is from The Big Book of Unschooling, page 199 or 231.
Best match on my site is
A deeper match is from a discussion in 2001, on Always Learning, with Pam Sorooshian, Joyce Fetteroll, Deb Lewis, and others, on what some homeschoolers claimed about religion and morality.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Principles require thought

One reason principles work better than rules is that they require thought every single time. The best answer to most questions is "it depends."

If a person is answering most questions with "no," that is putting trouble in the bank to collect interest.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Friday, January 15, 2021

Solidity and permanence

Karen James took both of these photos. They ended up next to each other in my folder of possible-future-Just-Add-Light images. They made a pair, for me.

One has a framework of sticks that grew slowly and gradually. Sticks they are, still.
The second image shows sticks that were collected and propped up for fun. Each pole had a life, somewhere, one time. A new phase of that life was being part of temporary art. Another phase was being seen and captured from one angle on one day, in one moment. Then I saved it a while. One thing leading to another, now you've seen them.
Look at what else in that scene seems solid, and old. What else seems fragile or transitory? The ocean is ancient, and strong, and it changes too. It moves all day and all night.

Expecting people to be more solid and unchanging than other, older, harder things is an expectation to let go of. People do change, and we see them with our everchanging eyes and thoughts.

Learning to accept change is good growth.
photos by Karen James

Thursday, January 14, 2021


Sometimes parents talk too much.

Practice being quiet.
photo by Karen James
__ __

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Clear and easy

When the path is clear and easy, relax and enjoy the peace.

When you come to obstacles or there's more than one path, you'll be rested and prepared to choose based on what you know and what seems to lead you nearer to safety and growth.
photo by Jihong Tang

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Are we? Am I?

Anna Black wrote:

Now I think... Is my child happy, healthy, connected? Are we moving towards partnership? Are we having fun right now, at this moment? Am I treating my children as well or better as I would treat my husband or my friend? If yes, great. If not, change, make a different choice.
—Anna Black

Gratitude and choices
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, January 11, 2021

Be where you are

Parents complain about children living in fantasy worlds sometimes, and not growing up and facing reality. I think probably in every single one of those cases, it was the parental fantasy of what the child ought to be doing that was really the problem.
Make each moment the best moment it can be. Be where you are with your body, mind and soul. It's the only place you can be, anyway. The rest is fantasy.

Walk where you are

The quote above is from The Big Book of Unschooling
pages 79 and 80 (72 and 72 of the first edition)
photo by Cass Kotrba

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Good and positive

Things will get better
      as you weed out negativity
            and focus on what’s good and positive.
photo by Elaine Santana

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Just the right words

Pam Laricchia wrote:
I love writing. The process of throwing down my thoughts and ideas about unschooling onto the page and then rethinking and reorganizing and rewriting and editing until I figured out both what I was trying to say, and just the right words to use so that it made sense to the reader, is exhilarating.

"Unschooling is Life" has that quote,
though I did change the last part to present tense.
photo by Theresa Larson

Friday, January 8, 2021

Dial it up!

The edge of the ocean isn't a static, solid line. Waves and tides make it beach, and water, and marine habitat, and land, back and forth, up and down, neither all nor nothing. Learning is that way, too, if you can relax.

See if you have a dial in your mind that says "everything" at one extreme and "nothing" at the other. It's impossible for anyone to do everything or nothing. Maybe label it "too much" and "not enough" instead, and try for the midpoint. Replace any on/off switches in your mind with slide bars or dimmers!"
photo by Janelle Wrock

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Truthful and protective

When freedom and choices are given to children, they are given by a parent who has the power to withhold them. The parents are still the authorities and the responsible parties in the group. They don't need to abuse authority to prove they have it. They don't have to have a steep hierarchy; they can have a closer, cooperative hierarchy, but there is still a hierarchy. If parents earn their children's respect by being kind and helpful and truthful and protective, then there will be a natural hierarchical relationship, not something the parents claimed out of tradition or the air.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Step up and see

The same life can be seen from many different angles.
The same situation can be seen while holding one's breath
and being furious,
or while seeing the alternatives
and finding ways to be grateful,
no matter how small,
because on one small bit of gratitude,
one can step up and see another one,
and another.
photo by Sukayna

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Learning at unexpected times

There were opportunities to sleep, on blankets at parks. In the car while we were traveling. In tents at the house. On couches or floor beds while movies played for the other kids. In the laps of parents.

Unschoolers have found that the very best questions and ideas can arise late at night when other stimuli are dimmed and muted, and the child is peaceful and thoughtful, or in those moments of waking up naturally after a satisfying sleep.

Late-night Learning
The quote is from "Opportunities," in The Big Book of Unschooling (page 157 or 175)
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, January 4, 2021

Calmer is healthier

Biochemically/emotionally, calmer is healthier. I don't know of any physical condition that is made better by freaking out or crying hard or losing sleep or reciting fears. I know LOTS of things that are made better—entire lives, and lives of grandchildren not yet born—by thoughtful, mindful clarity.

Calming and contagious
photo by Ester Siroky

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Seeing what is

Sometimes a heavy thing can seem much lighter if you accept what is, instead of arguing with the air about what you think SHOULD have been.

Be a light thing.
Rise up.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Lax and relax

I know the world "struggle" is as popular as "groovy" was in 1967, but it's not nearly as groovy.
Relax! You can deal with problems better without struggling. You might find out that struggling WAS the problem.
photo by Amber Ivey

Friday, January 1, 2021

Wait; think; choose

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 Holly Dodd

The text of this post has been used three times before, starting in 2011. It might be the best advice ever, though, and could be read every day. This, or one of those other three, might be worth printing out and sticking on a fridge or mirror. (The link will show all four, or someday maybe five.)