Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Winding down and transitioning

By Meredith, at the end of a longer list of ideas for indoor play for children:

Party games like blind-mans-bluff and pin-the-tail can be played easily at home with one or two kids. Get a book of party games, or look some up on the web.

Wind down by transitioning to something else, rather than just "that's enough". A snack makes a good transition, or switch to video games or a movie.
—Meredith Novak

Also, there are newer ideas there, about video games that require indoor physicality. It might be a good page to revisit.
photo by Kathryn Robles

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Change the world

"When I stopped seeing my daughter as adversarial it changed the world for us."
—Joanna Murphy
photo by Marty Dodd

Monday, May 29, 2023

Rich lives, in the world

Unschoolers need to be actively involved in things that bring their children into the world, and the world into their children.

The best unschoolers are doing more with and for their children than school-at-home families are. Unschooling parents need to understand MORE about how learning works and keep their family lives rich.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Like a zombie?

Me, in response to a(nother) question, once, about kids who become so involved in something that they are like zombies, don't hear people, don't stop to eat...
If something is REALLY fascinating, extremely engaging, those things might happen. A brand-new video game at an exciting point. A book as good as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, first time through. A news item on the death of a favorite person.

Those things can happen to me, still, as an adult—that I am mesmerized, engaged, involved in something, and it can be a program (I've been watching some great Korean dramas lately), or a book, or an interesting or difficult bit of sewing. It can take me a few seconds to come to myself and respond to another person.

. . . .

It would be unfortunate if someone's unschooled child loved a game or story so much that he seemed to be a zombie, and the parents started to limit his life because of it. It would be an unfortunate lack of appreciation and relationship and awareness on the part of the parents.
photo by Destiny Dodd

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Same and different

Learning happens when a child sees what two things have in common, and considers how they are different.

Parents can help, without telling them what "the answers" are. The parent might not see what the child sees.

Give children a chance to find their own answers.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 26, 2023

An evolving life

"I didn't get it. I thought I did. But it's like mowing the lawn, or dishes, or laundry, or being their will always be evolving, because it isn't an it. It is life."
—Shan Burton
photo by Gail Higgins

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Relax into wonder

If you can allow yourself to relax into wonder, your children will have a wonderful mom.
photo by Sandra Dodd

The quote was from something passing, on Facebook.
Other wonderful Just Add Light moments:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Breathe to Ten

Someone said one time that she counts to ten and then she's still mad so what should she do, and a couple of people said "Count slower."

Angrily holding one's breath and counting to ten in a hostile fashion isn't the "count to ten" that's recommended. Breathing to ten is way better.

Breathing can be done in an overt, hostile "I'm breathing so I won't hurt you" passive-aggressive way, too. That cancels it right out.

The quote is from an online chat, but a good link is
photo by Vlad Gurdiga

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Making Peace with Food

When Shan Burton was growing up, the relationships among her, food, and her parents was a frightening swirl. Without better ideas, she began to pass some of those problems on to her children. Then she discovered unchooling.

Below are an image from that report, her conclusion, and a link to the story of the changes that came from the changes she made.
Shan wrote:
Food can be an experiment, a social activity, and even art!

What it never is, anymore, is a battlefield.

May all your meals be joyous ones!
—Shan Burton
photo by Shan Burton

Monday, May 22, 2023

True freedom and snake oil

Freedom should involve a respect for others, and a respect for logic. And a family might not feel they "respect the law," but the laws still do apply to them, no matter how twinkly-eyed they have become in their newfound "freedom."

So if someone is selling you "True Freedom" (or snake oil, or the elixir of the fountain of life), have respect for yourself and your family and take a pass on it.

from page 220 (or 255) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd (click to enlarge)

"Snake oil" might not be an internationally-known term, so here's this: Snake oil

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Concerned and attentive

Just as being kinder and gentler with a child makes one a kinder, gentler parent, being more attentive and concerned about a spouse or partner makes that person, in turn, more attentive and concerned.

It doesn't happen all at once, and you can't send them the bill. You can't count or measure it. It has to be selfless and generous. Your kindness needs to be given because it makes you kinder, not because you want any further reward.

From The Big Book of Unschooling, page 270 (page 311, in 2nd edition)

Also see:
photo by Marin Holmes

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Another planet?

This is about the fears some people have, when they first ask about homeschooling:

For some people, it scares them so much that it feels almost like they're moving to another planet and can never come back.

It's not like moving to another planet. You'll still have the same house, same car, same phone number, you'll still be sitting in the same chair. It will just be different. And everytime I've ever said that to anyone, they seemed somewhere between totally relieved and shocked. . . . .

They were flipping out. They were really spinning out, off the planet. Like, "Where will we be? What will happen? How will we ever get back?"

Back to where? You're in your own house.

It's from a 2013 interview. This page might help in similar ways: Help
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 19, 2023

Patient, generous, kind

Sometimes an antique is still in use.

If you remember how exciting a little mechanical ride could be when you were a child, try to keep some coins on hand to indulge your young children.

If you don't have young children, consider keeping coins for offering rides to other children whose parents are tired or don't have what makes those little rides go.

If you don't remember being very young, for just 20p (or 50¢, or your local equivalent), if you're lucky and open to growth, you could live vicariously through another young person.

Patience, generosity and kindness make a person better.
A patient, generous, kind person makes the world better.

Plus or minus
photo by Sandra Dodd, 2011, in Bristol

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Seeing enough

Don't assess "enough." Pay attention to your child and don't try to press him to do something he doesn't want to do, and don't try to make him stop doing something while he's still having fun.

See learning as your priority, and you will begin to see it more and more.

Seeing it
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

It shows.

"Much of what they're learning as unschoolers is the 'true grit' of living: communication, interaction, observation, exploration, etc... and it shows!"

—a mom named Sandy
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Step up; step up again...

Transcript from a presentation, long ago, about becoming more peaceful by making conscious choices:

If you think “Ok, I’m either going to whack him or I’m going to yell at him,” yell at him—that was the best choice you had at that moment. And the next time, start with “yell at him." “Ok, I'm either going to do what I did the last time or something better. I'm going to yell at him or I’m going to go in the other room for a second." Go in the other room.

And the next time, maybe your choice could be either “go in the other room” or “I’m going to take a deep breath and make a joke about it.” Make a joke.

And gradually and incrementally you come closer to the place where you want to be. Beause I don’t think anybody can just jump from a lifetime of responses and expectations and behaviors and just pick some other person and just become that person. You can’t do that.

My voice/Sandra, in 2002.
(I write better than I speak.)
photo by Rosie Moon

Monday, May 15, 2023

It's ALL temporary

Below is part of a response by Robyn Coburn to a doubtful mom saying if ALL her kids wanted to do ALL day EVERY day was..., that she would have a problem. After creating some other all-day-interest examples, Robyn wrote:

The fact is that even if it is ALL they want to do for ALL day EVERY day, it will still be temporary; EVERY day would still not last forever. It would be a temporary need being fulfilled. Discovering and facilitating the children's passions is another tentpole of Unschooling practice. A child discovering something that they *want* every day is cause for celebration.

The only way to know if your children genuinely, truly want to do the other activities is if they have the option to choose not to do them. They can only choose to switch it off when they have the option to leave it on.
—Robyn Coburn
photo by Chris Chambliss

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Peace Inside

Peace, like learning, is largely internal.

Mother Teresa could have found a more peaceful place than Calcutta, but she was helping people find peace in non-peaceful surroundings.
photo by Sukayna


Saturday, May 13, 2023


When you see something, or picture it in your mind, you might be examining a small detail of it, close up.

If it is shown at a distance with a big background, the details fade out. The object can be beautiful, in that context, though. A jewel.

Remember you can zoom.

Zoom out calmly. Zoom in curiously. Zoom thoughtfully.
photo by Brie Jontry

Friday, May 12, 2023

Peace and sharing

Peace and joy make all the other things easier. Children who don't feel crowded or frustrated will find it easier to share.

When things are, sometimes crowded and frustrating, remember not to yell "I told you to share!" (That last part is a joke, but it might help to imagine a smiley-face safety cone near what could be a danger.)
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Thursday, May 11, 2023

What peace is not

To have more peace, it helps to know what is NOT peace, so those harsh states can be avoided.
Outrage is not healthy for unschooling parents.

It's not healthy for anyone, for very long, but it works against unschooling.

Outrage is BIG, visceral, adrenaline-filled RAGE. If your "outrage" is any smaller, use a different word. has a Donald-Duck demonstration.
photo by Marta Venturini, of her peaceful husband

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Patterns and angles

What you see every day can be seen in a different way.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Rules, and problems

Families with rules have a lot to fight about. Couples with a lot of rules have a lot to fight about.

When I wrote that, I had been married for 24 years. As I post it here, I've been married for 39 years. Live lightly.

from a discussion 15 years ago
photo by Holly Dodd, in 2008, the year I wrote what's above

Monday, May 8, 2023

Explore ideas

There is no academic degree that would enable you to answer all your children's questions.
photo by Rosie Moon

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Peace and use

In response to a question in a discussion once, I wrote:
Don't think of your brain. Think of your mind and of your awareness. A little tiny brain can hold a LOT of information. A big fat one can fail to do so. It's not size, it's peace and use.
Shan Burton responded:
OH! This just resonated through my mind and awareness.

What a concise, clear way of expressing it. It feels to me like this is the difference between unschooling learning and school learning. School learning is focused (and not so well, maybe) on pouring things into brains.

Unschooling is about learning, and engagement, and connections, and awareness of things that can get deeper and deeper, throughout life. It works that way for kids and for adults.

Peace and use. I feel like bit is going to be connecting to lots of other things in my mind and awareness for some time to come...

—Shan Burton,
most of that

Those quotes, and more, in context:
photo by Denaire Nixon

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Simple but gigantic

One of the best first steps a family can take toward moving a giant step toward being more positive is to note and back off about anyone or anything they've called "dumb" or "stupid."

It's simple but gigantic.

If things (music, ideas, jokes) are allowed the dignity of being potentially accepted as perhaps good in someone's estimation, lights come on all over that world.

Sandra, on Always Learning, in 2008
photo by Holly Dodd

Friday, May 5, 2023

History in the snow

History is all around us, sometimes just sitting out in the snow.

When you think of history, think of engineering, toys, clothes, dishes, food... Think of buildings and of transportation, of bedding, and of books.

Then you can look at the same things as art, or as science, of "antiques," or collections.

The categories aren't as important as the curiosity, appreciation and connections.

photo by Denaire Nixon

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Every day is a day

Today is Star Wars Day. Why?
"'May the 4th' be with you"——that is why.

It wasn't my idea. Learn Nothing Day was my idea. That's still two and a half months away.

"Just because something is silly doesn't mean high-level cognition isn't happening. If humor helps, find it. Make it. Appreciate it in your children."

(same time last year)
photo by Julie D, 2009

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Growing safely

Marta Venturini, in an interview in 2020:

I see deschooling much more than just that process of replacing school with no school. Because to me, radical unschooling is that lifestyle that you were talking about, is that spiritual practice, almost. Because radical unschooling is that to me, deschooling has been so much more. It’s been about personal growth. It’s been about healing.

And so, trying to give Conchinha this safe place, I ended up getting my own safe place, too, in the process.

You can hear the recording here:
and there is a link to the transcript
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Big things happen

Something BIG happens when a person turns away from selfishness to service.

Something HUGE happens when a person can care about another person more than about himself.
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Monday, May 1, 2023

Everything changes

In a discussion, someone challenged the idea of kids have options even about what they wanted to eat, and how. She wrote:
"Eating decisions"?

I picked it up and set it down just a little way from there with this response:
Choices. If ALL of that is changed to a model in which there is food, and people make choices—lots of small choices, not big "decisions"—a hundred hard problems disappear.

In one small moment, if a child can pick up a food or not; smell it or not; taste it or not; keep that bite and chew and swallow, or spit it out; take another bite or not; dip it in something or not; put another food with it or not—EVERYTHING changes.
photo by Sarah S