Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Monday, April 26, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021


"Headgear" in very many forms, and unschoolers.

photo credit lost in history; mask by Marty Dodd
(photo is a link)

Saturday, April 24, 2021


Yesterday's post had a word left out. It was missing a "not" in "In the 1970s, I was told that it's a sign of intelligence, if a person can creatively use an object well for something it was not designed for."

That makes a difference. Sorry.
I need a break and will be back May 1, but will leave things for you to look at during that time. Today, from former blog posts, bridges—usually in the image, but a time or three in the text.
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, April 23, 2021

Different uses for things

For fun, or for practice, be flexible enough to use items for things other than their "intended purpose."

In the 1970s, I was told that it's a sign of intelligence, if a person can creatively use an object well for something it was not designed for.
Following cats might lead you to new ideas: Just Add Cats...
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, April 22, 2021

A quiet moment

If you need an image to assist with creating a quiet moment, to center yourself, to let your thoughts swirl more slowly, and settle quietly, here is the recent full moon in southern New Mexico, in an image by Theresa Larson.

I'm grateful for the use of beautiful captures of things others have seen, saved, and let me share here.
Stillness (with a snow photo)
photo by Theresa Larson

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Investing your time

Karen James wrote:

It might not seem like it now, but those early years pass fast. . . . I don't regret a single moment. If anything, I wish I'd given more. I still have time, thankfully.

It did take a lot of my time, attention and energy, and there were times when I was really, really tired at the end of the day, and mornings when I was slow to want to embrace the day. But I see all that time and energy and attention as an investment—in my son, and in my own future. If I get to grow old, I hope these are some of the moments that bring colour to my winters.

Please read the beautiful entirety of that at
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, April 19, 2021

Present and open

Listen, feel, look. Something will be beautiful, even just for a moment, if you are present and open.

How much beauty would make a beautiful moment?

What could be set aside so that beauty could fill its place?

Turn your face toward beauty.
Turn your heart toward beauty.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, April 18, 2021


"It isn't self-sacrifice to work for your team. It's teamwork."
Piece of Cake
photo by Marta Venturini

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Peace in the bank

Do what will help your baby. Be the gentlest, sweetest, most attentive mother you can possibly be, and you will be putting peace in the bank for you and your whole family.

Though that was written about infants, it could work with older kids, too!
photo by Lydia Koltai

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Making a family's life better

Some have written that unschooling made their family life better. In every case I've seen, making a family's life better is exactly what makes unschooling work well. So which comes first? Neither grew wholly in the absence of the other.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Surprising changes

Sometimes deschooling works best when there are surprising (maybe even shocking) surprises, or stark refutations of what the mom has “guaranteed will happen,” or is positive can ONLY happen—that having candy out all the time will make kids throw up, have cavities, get fat. The stories of kids in the presence of the same old bowl of candy asking for vegetables and fruit are important stories to share.
Choices can’t happen without choices, and choices don’t happen well with a mom hovering around and predicting negative outcomes. Lots of people have reported that their experiences with food, and unschooling, changed everything. Seeing kids learning about food, and making choices about food, made other choices seem to make total sense.
from Always Learning, 05/07/19
photos by Ester Siroky (mushroom basket) and Elise Lauterbach (mushroom golf)

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

More than one thing

I always like the idea that most things are many things. Language is both too big and too small, sometimes.
If a chart is made of food or food can by played with; if a house is a home and a brownstone and a townhouse; if music is noise, and a pet is a dog and a stray and a mutt, it's even more impressive that kids can learn English (or whatever native language they find themselves born or brought into).

A sweet shortcut to more peace at your house is to allow things, and people, to have many facets and designations. I'm a mom, a wife, a sister, a writer, a mender, a joker, and sometimes I sing. Not so long ago, I became a grandmother. I maintain a webpage, and this blog. You, too, and each person you know, is more than one thing. Let your imagination and calmness extend that to chairs, tables, and blankets.

This post might be soothing or irritating, helpful or long. Same with lunch, or the next story someone tells me.

Find ways to be happy through all those words and thoughts.

photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, April 12, 2021

Connections, respect and learning

Kristiva once wrote:

I was very prejudiced and fearful when my son (12) first started spending lots of time playing (FPS) games on the xbox and minecraft on the computer. Long story short, I realized that everytime I rejected his interests I was missing an opportunity to connect with him. And connection became my priority. Even before I understood anything about video games besides my shallow observations and judgements. As soon as I shifted to respect, a whole new world opened for me. I also learned some amazing things about my son.
—Kristiva Stack

Nicole Richard wrote, of photos she sent:

I love this. Estrella built a block tower and the boys honored it in Minecraft."


Embracing Minecraft
photos (links to larger images) by Nicole Richard, of her children's art

Sunday, April 11, 2021

More power

Help your children to be powerful. Let them have all of their power and some of yours.

(quote is from page 171 or 194 of The Big Book of Unschooling)
photo by Janine

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Directly and clearly

Read some, do some. Think. Rest. Watch your child directly and as clearly as you can, without the filters and overlays you might be used to. If you think of any terms other than his name as you're looking, shake those off and think his name. Don't think "small, ADHD, rough, shy," or "girly, bright, verbal, musical." You might get back to some of those sometimes, but try to see "Holly, touching a leaf," or "Marty, eating soup." Sometimes the school-colored glasses can keep us from seeing anything but "is doing school work" or "is doing nothing." Unschoolers don't do school work, and "nothing" falls right off the radar.

from "Beginning to Unschool," page 36 or 39 of The Big Book of Unschooling

See also: Practice Watching elsewhere on Just Add Light and Stir
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Friday, April 9, 2021

Your relationship with learning

You can't wait until you understand unschooling to begin. Much of your understanding will come from the changes you see in your child and in your own thinking, and in your relationship with and perception of learning itself. You can't read a touch and then go and unschool for a year and then come back and see what you did wrong; you could be a year in the wrong direction.

from "Beginning to Unschool," page 36 or 39 of The Big Book of Unschooling
(I changed "it" to "unschooling," in the first line above.)
photo by Janine

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Smoke and fire; hobbies and jobs

Some things are more interesting to a child at one age or another, or too dangerous, but the ages vary with different people. Principles are better than rules, for interests and safety.

Physical conditions matter, too. A fire on grass is safer than a fire in a dry desert in autumn, or in the windy Springtime.

Interests that are wonderful and richly full of learning for one child might seem repulsive or as dry as the desert to another child. Good! That's fine! Paying attention to what they like could help you let them know of hobbies, volunteer work, or jobs they might consider, as teens, or as adults, that match their interests and strengths.

The link below goes to a long list of jobs, from various discussions over the past fifteen years. It might be fun, as you read through them to consider jobs that were rare or nonexistent before the past year or two, or jobs that might fade away within a few years.
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Better living through priorities

...picking up in the middle of an exchange...

It doesn’t seem good for learning, to stop them from doing what seems interesting to them in the moment.

If you set your priority on learning and peace, it makes other questions easier.

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, April 5, 2021

Value and priorities

floor scenario with kitchen bottles and toy dinosaursSize, age, volume, cost...
Value and priorities, for unschoolers, might begin to surprise you and continue to do so.

Don't judge importance too quickly.

Learning is everywhere.
photo by Lynda Rains

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sometimes thinking is shared

Though thinking is usually private and quiet, sometimes it shows easily. Games and projects often involve discussions of strategies, or analysis of error or success. Working on projects together puts the supplies and the thoughts all out on the table.

If a child wants to share his thoughts with you, take it as a compliment. Be honored.

Honor him by listening to him as a full human sharing real ideas.

Those are the moments faith and trust are made of. Be a person he'll come back to next time, next year, when he's grown.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Thinking is private

Someone who is swinging, looking out the window, fidgeting with a little toy, doodling or drawing, is probably doing some serious thinking. Let them.

In the same way that you might be quiet for someone taking a nap, it could be courteous not to interrupt the thoughts you can't see or hear.

Being nearby and available in case there's something the other person wants to share might be a good idea, but give thoughts space to flow.

The writing above is new here, but the page about needs is somewhat related.
Also, perhaps, other posts about parents being quieter.
photo by Ester Siroky

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Critical Thinking Day

Don't believe everything you read or hear today! It's April Fool's day, and people will be trying to trick you or trip you up.

All the rest of the year? Don't believe everything you read or hear then, either.
photo by Sandra Dodd