Sunday, February 28, 2021

Promote calm

In the smallest of decisions and actions, if you can choose what will promote calm and avoid tears, you will be moving toward a more peaceful way of being.

photo by Theresa Larson

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Unscheduled brilliance

"Let go of the fear of missing out; it will hamper your ability to be open to the cornucopia of unscheduled sparkling brilliance."
photo by Sandra Dodd
of an Australian possum I saw, thanks to Jo Isaac


Friday, February 26, 2021

Respecting people

Being respectful to children and respectful of children's opinions and preferences and desires is what caused my children to be so respectful of other people's opinions and preferences and desires. And they really are.
Some Problems with Respect, 2010
photo by Rosie Todd

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Brain food in abundance

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Some kind of learning is happening all the time — but not all learning is good. Learning how to sneak food, learning that parents can't be trusted and counted on, learning to think of oneself in negative ways, all sad. Learning that life is boring, hard work, sucks, hurts, is unfair, also sad. Not what unschoolers are trying for.
Human brains are voracious and will feed on whatever is available. Unschoolers should be offering interesting experiences, ideas, stimulation, music, logic, conversation, images, movement, discovery, beauty, etc. Brain food in abundance. It requires effort. It requires attention to qualitative and quantitative aspects of learning. 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.
—Pam Sorooshian

on Always Learning, in 2011
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Layers and depth

A mom once wrote:
Sometimes I think I've started to understand something but instead it's like an onion and there's another layer I didn't know I needed to understand.
I responded:
That's how everything good is. Every hobby, skill, pastime, has a surface and has a depth. Some things can be just surface, but parenting and unschooling last for years. And if a family can't resolve to be and do and provide better for the child than school would, then school is better.

If a family resolves to provide a better life experience then school did, then their decisions and actions should be based on that.

Make the Better Choice
Getting It
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, February 22, 2021

Temporary beauty

Be ready to discover temporary fragile beauty.
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Sunday, February 21, 2021

In the world

The thing I think I've seen more than anything else in some of the older unschoolers, the people who are teens who haven't been to school much or at all, is they are so whole. Their place in the world is real. They're not preparing for the possibility of applying to have a place in the world after they're grown. They are in the world. And there's something so different about that.

Unschooling and Real Learning
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Learn to guess

Too many parents talk and talk to their kids, and ask them how they feel and ask them what they need.
Learn to guess. Learn to provide in advance. Food is good to practice with. Soft, clean cleared-off beds are good to practice with. Clearing off space for video gaming is nice. Soon you start to think about heat, softness, clean clothes, toothpaste before it runs out, favorite foods when you shop. And then people feel heard and comforted and entertained and loved.
photo by Elaine Santana

Friday, February 19, 2021

A stable, calm place

As you understand unschooling better and have stories of your own child's learning, you will be stronger, and bigger, and relatives will start to love those stories of natural learning, too. It takes a while. It will always take a while.

When the stories are about YOUR children, and not just other people's children, you'll be in a more stable, calm place.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Better biochemicals

Once I jokingly complained that a package of citric acid was marked "chemical free." Several people joked entertainingly, but a couple were humorless and critical.

I noted:
Citric acid IS a chemical. Looking for harm is, in itself, harmful. Fear and negativity stir up chemicals your own body makes, that aren't good for you. Induce the better biochemicals by being sweet, hopeful and calm.

original discussion, on facebook

or a page on the irrational fear of chemicals:
photo of a navel orange slice hanging by thread, by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

How to live

Live the way you want your children to be.
Be curious.
Be thoughtful.
Be patient.
Be generous.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

All those moments

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

It seems that unschooling, for me, is a compilation of all those moments of being with my kids instead of doing something else. It's fun to go out of your way to do cool things with your kids and seek out opportunities, but the real stuff seems to happen in those moments that could just go by within each and every day.
—Jenny Cyphers
photo by Elise Lauterbach


Monday, February 15, 2021

Light, shadows, and thoughts

Which is better—a bridge, or a photo of a bridge?

It depends.

Lots of little bridges to "It depends."
photo by Karen James

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hopes and observations

I hope your day goes well and something unexpectedly wonderful happens to you.
(Look around for it...)
Turn and softly look
photo by Jihong Tang

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Emotional banking

People who cling to their right to hate things will have hatred in their lives.

It's worth rephrasing, rethinking, turning away, moving away from things you wanted to "hate." There are enough things you can find to enjoy.

Emotions are kind of like banking, in a way. If you deposit peaceful times and kindness and positive thoughts and joy, then you build up a stronger account of hope and all that.

Happy goes in the bank.

from the transcript of a chat on Mental Health
Kimchi and the photo of it were both made by Alex Polikowsky.

Friday, February 12, 2021

This, too...

"Live lightly, when possible. Bring cheer, when you can. Remember, this, too, will pass."
—Karen James (here)
Patience (with more by Karen James)
photo by Cass Kotrba

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Another benefit of generosity

I've seen a difference in motivation in teens who have been nurtured and whose parents were not adversarial with them.
They don't consider food a reward, and so they're less likely to spend all their money on food to self-soothe. They rarely need to "self-soothe" anyway. If they have a success in a project or at work they enjoy it for itself, for the feeling of accomplishment. And if their parents have managed not to use money in lieu of attention and expressions of affection, they're careful with money, too.

If money means love, a needy person will want more money. If money is a tool like a hammer, or a substance like bread or toilet paper—necessary for comfort, and it's good to have extra—then it would make no more sense for them to spend all their money than it would make to throw a hammer away because they had already put the nail in the wall, or to unroll all the toilet paper just because it was there.

If the parents have been generous, many other problems are averted.

Big Book of Unschooling, page 299 (258 in first edition)
photo of teenaged Marty as Dr. Strangelove at a costume party
__ __

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A choice is always better

When Kirby was offered a job in another state, including an allowance for his moving expenses, I wanted to be encouraging without seeming to push him out and shut the door. So we promised to leave his room available for
a year, in case he wanted to move back. He had taken the furniture and much of his belongings. The room became a video games room for the rest of the family, but it was still "Kirby's room."

I felt better knowing he was only tentatively gone. It might have helped him to know that it wasn't "do or die" there, in Austin. He was able to decide whether he liked it enough to stay there, knowing he did have the option to return to his own room at home.

A choice is always better than "no choice." We were able to cushion his leaving with a real fallback plan.

The Big Book of Unschooling, page 308 (or 267 if your book is old)
photo by Destiny Dodd, of Kirby a dozen years later

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Evolving hour by hour

I was interested in teaching and people and writing my whole life, and the intensive experience of learning so much about unschooling and parenting, and learning to use new resources to help other people have opportunities to learn wasn’t "on the schedule." It evolved hour by hour over the years and has brought us all many great friends and memories.

20 Unschooling Questions: Sandra Dodd from NM, USA
photo at Bushy Park, by one of the parents one day in September 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Thoughtful decisions

Joyce Fetteroll's response to a parenting question:

Should you teach your child to always tell the truth?
"Always" and "never" are rules meant to stop thinking. Support your child in becoming a thoughtful decision-maker, not a thoughtless rule-follower.
—Joyce Fetteroll

Original, and more, on Quora
photo by Daniel Moyer Artisan

Friday, February 5, 2021

Avoiding future problems

I had been unschooling for years before a few people suggested on a message board that requiring kids to do chores could be as bad as making them do schoolwork. I perked up immediately, and everything they said has proven true at our house. The first principle was "If a mess is bothering you, YOU clean it up." Another one was "Do things for your family because you *want* to!"

It was new to me to consider housework a fun thing to be done with a happy attitude, but as it has changed my life and because it fit in so well with the other unschooling issues, I've collected things to help others consider this change as well.

In the same way that food controls can create food issues, forcing housework on children can cause resentments and avoidances which neither get houses clean nor improve the relationships between children and parents.

Also, studies of separated identical twins have shown that the desire and ability to clean and organize has more to do with genetics than "training."
photo by Sandra Dodd, of nearly-teen Holly wearing a shirt from her mom's late teens

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Experiments and experiences

Keith and I have enjoyed our children and the success of our experiments and experiences has been a joint project at which we were very successful. The effect of sharing something difficult, like parenting in a way that’s not universally acclaimed and supported, can be strengthening to a relationship.

We had always worked at being courteous to each other. We always said please and thank you about any “pass the salt” or “could I have a Kleenex.” It was easy, then, to model that for our children and for them to see the valuable effect of it.

Source:  20 Unschooling Questions: Sandra Dodd from NM, USA

Related:  Becoming a Better Partner
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The photos.... they work from the blog, not from e-mail

Today's Just Add Light works well at the blog

Passageways and surprises but the photos don't show from e-mail.

I hope that EVERY reader will try to look at the blog instead of e-mail or on a phone, not just today. Then you can use the randomizer and the tags, too.

The little door opened into a storage area for books and papers, for the officiant.

Best wishes, and thanks for reading.

Passageways and surprises

Sometimes a litle door might be literal, or sometimes figurative, but little doors can lead to many wonderful things! All the doors you've ever seen are connected in you. They open into all different places and spaces in your memory and your imagination.
Hidden secret rooms...
photo by Sandra Dodd, of an obscure detail in an old church
(click to see photos of the church at Lead, in North Yorkshire, 28Aug2016)
and more

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Actual paths, and other choices

I love the potential in this photo. There is too much to explore, but the options are up, down, through, around. It reminds me that we live in the moment that connects the past and the future.

The world is too big for anyone to see everything. History will never all be discovered or known. The best we can do for ourselves and our children is to view their surroundings with wonder and curiosity. We can help them experience small things and large, old things and new.
photo by Sukayna

Monday, February 1, 2021

Learning, not being taught

Weeding out terminology we would prefer not to mean improves thinking.
. . . .
Every time someone says "taught" or "teach" they can slip back into the whole school thing and be seeing the world through school-colored glasses. If they do what it takes, mentally and emotionally, to recast their reports and then their thoughts in terms of who *learned* something, then they can start to see the world in terms of learning.

The last holdout for some people is "he taught himself..." but maybe that should be the FIRST to go. Teaching comes from someone WITH skills or knowledge passing them on to those without them. If I taught myself to play guitar, I would have had to have known how first.
. . . .
I learned from everything around me, from trial and error, from watching others and asking questions.

The information was being sucked in by me, not pushed in by me or anyone else. I didn't PUT the information inside me, I drew it in.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of bricks with Florida on the other side