Sunday, October 31, 2021

Subscriptions, and gratitude

Dear subscribers:

Thank you for your patience while Vlad is building a mailing program around us. The new format is beautiful and full of links to good things. I'm very grateful to Mr. Gurdiga for his clever and very generous help.

Some days, some of us got doubles, or posts repeated. I'm sorry for the confusion, but glad for the abundance!

I had wanted to quote part of something I wrote about abundance, but found that
1) the whole thing was required for it to make sense,
2) I had posted it before, in 2013, and
3) the original post had comments and links to two things new that day, about abundance and gratitude.

Please enjoy: Gratitude and Abundance
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Friday, October 29, 2021

Imagining strength

Kids are great at playing with the idea of being extra strong.
It doesn't hurt grown-ups to do the same.
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Nearer, closer, bigger

What's near seems Big!

Stay close to your children so they will be big in your life.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sensational days

Sensational / Sensation / Senses

Color, texture, scent. Sound. Taste.

Let your days be sensational.

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

What you can't see

Look at this reflection:
Your presence, your being, is reflected in things whether you can see it or not. When you cast a shadow, you might forget to notice.

The effect of your passing through, of waiting, walking or twirling, can affect others even without your conscious intent to "create an impression."

Light and Lightness
photo by Colleen Prieto

Monday, October 25, 2021

Honest and true

If you offer service with the hope of reward or praise or indebtedness, it will create resentment in you and in those who received the service. If you offer service without sending the bill, anything others say or do will be an honest expression of gratitude, not the last-minute submission of the bare minimum payment for services rendered.

A "thank you" that's scripted is just noise. A "thank you" you didn't expect is true communication.

Serving Others as a Gift
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp (or someone with her camera)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Everyday patterns

Meredith Novak wrote:
Kids learn because they are observant. I don't only mean modelling, I mean the human brain is designed to notice patterns and there are patterns everywhere - in speech, in social interactions, in shapes of things, in the relationships between physical characteristics. Some sets of related patterns we call "language" some we call "mathematics" some we call "music" etc. Kids can't help but notice those patterns and think about them because that's what our big convoluted brains do best.
More, by Meredith
photo by Hema Bharadwaj

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Friday, October 22, 2021


Sylvia Woodman wrote:
In some ways parents need to be actively demonstrating how much BETTER staying home is to being in school. Make sure you are busy doing fun things. Give her experiences that she could never have if she was in school.

Sandra Dodd, backing her up:
Sylvia's right—DO things. Point out in the midst of a fun activity that it's cool that she doesn't need to... get up early the next day, or wear special clothes/uniform/dress code every day, or...

And you, the mom, see other things that are lucky and fortunate about it.

Questions about Deschooling (facebook)
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Differences and similarities

People are always comparing and connecting things. Those are tools of learning. What is "just like" this, or similar? What is the opposite, or very different?

Those considerations work with visual arts, music, puzzles, sports, politics—just about anything involving thoughts and decision making.

Who am I similar to? Who am I glad to avoid? How does my child see me? How would I like to be seen and remembered?

Knowing Differences
photo by Holly Dodd

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Living well without boredom

From Wikipedia, about boredom:
There are three types of boredom, all of which involve problems of engagement of attention. These include times when we are prevented from engaging in some wanted activity, when we are forced to engage in some unwanted activity, or when we are simply unable, for no apparent reason, to maintain engagement in any activity or spectacle.
If that list is to be accepted, then unschooling parents can avoid boredom by finding ways to help children engage in wanted activities, not pressing them to engage in unwanted activities, and provide options to any activity or spectacle. (I'm thinking having quiet toys, a book, a Gameboy, smart phone or iPad on hand.

Boredom and unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Safety in communication

Avoid giving teenagers reason to lie about where they are. Give them leeway and backup and be ready to rescue a child or teen any time of the day or night from an uncomfortable situation. Lots of times kids are afraid to get in trouble for being where they are and when, and the people they're with know it, and that compounds danger.

The quote is from
but an illustrative story is at The night Holly was in trouble
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a younger-teen Holly

Monday, October 18, 2021

Small choices

If you decide how you want your home to be, and then make choices that get you nearer to that, things will get gradually better.

If you don't decide, or if you don't think of it many times a day when you make small choices, and decide how to act and react, then things won't get better.

Not every step will be forward, but if most of them are, then you'll make progress.
photo by Janine Davies

Sunday, October 17, 2021


Life is richer when you are open to appreciating surprises.
Surprises and discoveries
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 16, 2021


If food tastes like you should not eat it, don't eat it. If one bite makes you full, don't eat two. If one of your children balks at certain food, don't press him to eat it. Listen to your body's clear signals. If you get hungry, you'll FEEL hungry, and you might even know exactly what you would like to/should/can best eat, if you relax and pay attention.
photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, October 15, 2021

Love; generosity; a haven

Wash dishes because you want to. What would make you want to? Love. Generosity. A desire to have an available kitchen, a clean slate, a fresh canvas. The wish to do something simple and kind for yourself and others. The wish to keep peace in your house. The preference of singing and feeling warm soapy water over accusations and threats and tears. The intention to build loving relationships rather than antagonism. The hope to make a haven of your home, rather than a dangerous trap everyone would love to escape.

from page 201 of The Big Book of Unschooling (page 177 of the older edition)
related ideas online: Serving Others as a Gift
photo by Colleen Paeff

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hope and joy

There are no guarantees, but we can always do a little better.

Live in hope and joy, not in fear and avoidance.
photo by Elaine Santana

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Can laundry be fun?

Any tiny moment can be enjoyed: the feel of warm running water when you wash your hands...

...Can laundry be fun? If you have to do laundry and you choose NOT to enjoy it, an hour or more of your precious hours on earth have been wasted. Can looking at your child bring you joy even when he needs a bath and has lost a shoe and hasn't lived up to some expectation that only exists in your mind? If not, a paradigm shift could help you both.

"Laundry is Love" (a new page!)
The quote above is on the new page, though it is from
Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life (

photo by Cathy Koetsier

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Receiving Light by mail...

Some of you should be seeing an improved mailing. Our replacement for the longtime "feedburner" was not as clean or as pretty as Just Add Light and Stir needs. Having heard what I liked, wanted, and wished for, Vlad Gurdiga has created his own subscription system.

One hundred subscribers have been moved to the new program as a test. I missed this year's anniversary (September 2), but Just Add Light and Stir is over 11 years old now! Thank you for reading, and I hope that soon every subscriber will have a more beautiful e-mail to open each day.
Without Vlad's generous help, much of our long-collected unschooling information would be unavailable. I'm very grateful.

photo by Tara Joe Farrell

Monday, October 11, 2021

Today is now

Today can't be made better tomorrow.

Today you will make choices. Those choices will affect more lives than your own.

Be a good person to be a good parent
photo by Gail Higgins

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Esoteric and foofy? Why?

Even in the long term, unschooling is not about the completion of a project at all. It’s about becoming the sort of people who see and appreciate and trust that learning can happen. And who can travel with children, not just drag them along or push them along, but who can travel with children along those interesting paths together not until you get there, but indefinitely.

And for beginning unschoolers that sounds also a little esoteric, a little foofy. And not solid. They want to know what do I do when the kids wake up in the morning? So, the beginning information is very often, “What do I do?” But the information that will get people from the beginning to the intermediate is why. "Why do we do this?"

Changes in Parents
photo by Ester Siroky

The quote is from a podcast episode of Pam Laricchia interviewing me.
I tweaked the quote just slightly, capitalizing "even"
and using "unschooling" rather than "it."

I've used this quote before, but used better titles:

2017: Travel interesting paths

2018: "Why do we do this?" (with the same photo, even)

Friday, October 8, 2021

One thing to feel blessed about

"When I'm feeling out of sorts and crushed by the world, all it takes is finding one thing to feel blessed about to start thinking in terms of abundance rather than lack, of being inspired instead of beaten down."
—Jenny Cyphers

Wonder and Awe
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 7, 2021

First times and last times

I saw this little carousel at a car boot sale in Taplow, west of London.
Thinking of little children, the reminder "say yes when you can," and "don't underestimate the joy a small thing can bring a child."

For adults, the construction and engineering (of a fold-out trailer with a ride) and the place-in-time aspects of anything you might see could be worth a second look, another thought.

You never know which time is the last time you'll have seen something, or had a chance to do something.
photo by Sandra Dodd

a moment, May 26, 2013

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

See, hear, smell, touch and taste!

When babies are carried they see more, they hear and smell more. If they are given things to touch and taste besides just a few baby toys left in the corner of a crib or playpen, they will learn by leaps and bounds. They will spend less time crying and more time being in the real world.

The parents will know the child better, and the child will know the parents better. They will be building a partnership based on trust.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Let go; relax

Leah Rose:

Sandra wrote: "They need to STOP battling, STOP fighting, STOP struggling."

This has been such an incredibly powerful, empowering concept for me. It's a total turn around from the way I grew up thinking, from the way we think and speak in Western culture. But I have made the greatest strides in my own deschooling by learning to notice when I feel myself "struggling," and to Stop! Then I can choose to let go, to relax about the disparity between what I want and what is. And what I have discovered is that that conscious mental shift releases the energy I need to step forward mindfully into the moment...and then that moment becomes, itself, a step towards what I want, away from what I don't want.
—Leah Rose
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Monday, October 4, 2021

Generalizing in a good way!

In a long and heated discussion, Joyce Fetteroll wrote:

The discussion really isn't about TV. It's about the freedom to explore in a rich supportive environment in ways that *children* find meaningful. It means being their partners in helping them get what they want. It means offering options that appeal *to them*.
—Joyce Fetteroll
Logic and Parenting
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Seeing clearly

We don't always see things clearly and directly. Two people, in the same place, will have different perceptions and reactions.

You probably know that, but a reminder might be helpful.

When you can, be patient and accepting.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 1, 2021

Rare and precious sharing

Families who share the ways in which unschooling has improved their families and their lives are practicing a kind of transparency that is rare and precious. They are letting others peek into their "private lives." Because they think something has made life better, they reveal things about themselves, to pass that benefit on to others who would like to make their own lives better.

Other Voices
photo by Brie Jontry