Sunday, June 30, 2024

Roses and different directions

People need to start and go, but they don't have to race at breakneck speed or never look back. "Going" sometimes just means going one step and smelling the roses! Sometimes the most important steps are those where you're still standing in the very same place, but looking a different direction!

Sandra Dodd, July 2003 discussion
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Solid and reliable

Integrity is a strong wholeness. The fabric of the being of a thing can't be broken. A bucket with one hole in it is lacking integrity. It's not a good bucket. A frayed rope lacks integrity. No matter how long or strong the rest of the rope is, that frayed part keeps it from being a good rope.
. . . .
It's exactly why every person who hopes to have a positive influence on any other person needs to figure out how to find and maintain as much integrity as possible.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 28, 2024

I'm not guessing.

I'm confident. I'm not guessing unschooling can work, I know. I've also seen how it can fail, through my correspondence and discussions with so many other homeschooling families. I'm not hoping that kids can still get a job without fifteen years of practice bedtimes; I know they can. (And they would've been "practicing" for the wrong shift anyway.) I don't conjecture that kids can learn to read without being taught, I know. It's happened at my house, in three people's lives.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Just because it *can* work doesn't mean that a family can't fail. If you're going to unschool, do it well. Find your own confidence. Help is available.

Thursday, June 27, 2024


Learning is about connections. And others can't make those connections for you. You bring learning in; it is not inserted.

Some people learn better by seeing, watching, touching, than by being talked to anyway. Some want to see diagrams in a book, or maps. Some want to hear about it from others who have done it, seen it, know it.

When unschoolers provide as much different input as they can, each child can learn in his own way.

Principles of Learning (chat transcript)
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Relax into the next step

Leah Rose wrote:

I have come to see that it helps peace and learning to notice when we are clinging or tightening around an identity, an idea, or even a hope. I think that's why breathing and baby steps are such useful suggestions for new unschoolers. Both help us to stay in the moment, to relax right where we are rather than leaping ahead or getting mired in "shoulds." They help us cultivate soft, open ground upon which we can rest with joy, and know enough confidence to take the next step.
—Leah Rose

Note from Sandra:
That quote is the bottom of longer writing by Leah, on how she moved from rules to "no rules" which wasn't the best direction, and found a better path in living by principles.

Leah's writing is about the sixth quote down, at
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Scenery is where you see it.

We seek out interesting “scenic routes” in real and figurative ways.
photo by Marty Dodd, in rural Nevada, thinking "Fallout"

Monday, June 24, 2024

Good and sweet

Look at what looks good and sweet, and seek out more of that.
—Jill Parmer

Jill quote from the bottom of a chat on "Schooling"
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Providing for needs

Sometimes when a child is recovering from paucity, he hoards.

Sometimes when a parent has been changeable and inconsistent, a child can seem clingy and grasping when attention/supplies/input are available, thinking the famine will return at any moment.

Thinking of attachment parenting, infants and toddlers, a baby needs as much milk as he needs, and when he's done he'll turn away. A toddler needs as much holding and carrying as he needs, and when he's done, he will wiggle down and take off.
photo by Sandra Dodd

(original writing)

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Unschooling's "educational supplies"

Unschooling's "educational supplies" are often toys, or things that kids in school would not want or need, because they have it at school, or because it's not "age appropriate." School is processing kids through an assembly line, and there is pressure to accept and then abandon various interests. Unschooling has a whole different operating system.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Friday, June 21, 2024

Connecting and learning

Kelly Schultz, at the end of a longer account of learning from Barbie

Everywhere we go, we meet women who have loved their Barbies, young babysitting-age girls, grandmas with collector editions, women at the toy store commenting how they still love to get their Barbies out. Barbie-lovers are everywhere! Who knows when this shared interest will help them connect with someone down the road?

Who would have imagined - design, construction, dramatic narrative, social skills, a little bit of history mixed in - it's really a wonderful learning experience!
—Kelly Shultz
photo by Karen James

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Hale and whole

Looking at what a child (or oneself) CAN do well is better (in time, emotion, confidence, relationships) than finding why he's off, or faulty. Help your child feel hale and whole.
photo by... someone with Cátia Maciel's camera maybe
(photo sent by Cátia Maciel)

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

...never say "having screentime"

If an adult is using a television set, or a laptop computer, or a smartphone, and somebody asks them what they are doing they will say "watching the game" or "reading on Wikipedia" or "texting my friend." They will never say "having screentime."
—Virginia Warren
photo by Janine Davies

Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Many unschoolers have reported changed feelings about pets, and successes in extending newfound principles to animal friends and companions.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a stile in England
for humans and dogs

(Officially, humans over and dogs through, though I'm sure young children love going through. This was not farmland.)

Monday, June 17, 2024

Purposes and choices in the moment

When someone questioned "purpose," I responded:

I didn't say "live your live with a purpose," though. Not a singular overriding goal that would cause any other outcome to be failure. That's what some people mean when they say "a purpose," but I didn't say "a purpose." It makes a world of difference.

I was talking about individual situations, projects, days, ways to decide. Not about a whole life.

People do that with decisions, too, sometimes. When we talk about making decisions within unschooling discussions, it's not something like "I made the decision to be an unschooler." It's small decisions in the moment, right before each action or response, about what to have for lunch, where and how and why.
photo by Janine Davies, of a stile in England

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Teens can feel crowded

[Teens can feel crowded] by the new and real knowledge that the house is small and the world is huge.

Baby birds have no idea what's outside that nest.

Young children will occasionally find some corner of the house, some closet or a wall surface that was always covered by furniture before and they are not surprised that there are parts of that house they had never seen before. The house is everything.

Teenagers know they are meant to get up and go out. They're not happy about it, sometimes, especially when their house is a haven of love and sweetness and creativity, but their instincts kick in anyway and their perspective changes, very literally, and that nest seems like just a little wad of sticks on one little branch of one of ten thousand trees....

Crowded by their new awarenesses and raging hormones and their relative size (their rooms and beds are getting smaller by the day) and their collections of stuffed animals and action figures and Lego.

(January 2000, with one teen and two pre-teens then)
photo of Holly Dodd on her way to a party

This photo was in the Just Add Light folder for many, many years, waiting for a quote or topic it might slightly match.
Good enough.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Knowledge, real and useful

A mom posting as "Scooter," in 2001, wrote:
I personally believe that most knowledge, no matter how trivial or useless to anyone else, is just as important as what most people consider useful knowledge.
I responded:
This is dangerously radical thought and I agree with it wholeheartedly.

If one person builds muscle under the direction of a coach using gym equipment, and another builds muscle chopping wood and doing yardwork, which is better? Which muscles are more real? Which muscles are more useful? Which are more moral? What does the person need muscles for? Was the activity engaged in for the purpose of building visible, oilable muscles?

When schools teach to the test and drill kids on "useful" information, what happens inside and outside the school, the teacher, the student, the parent?
archived, about a dozen posts down there
(sorry I can't link more directly)
photos by Ester Siroky

Friday, June 14, 2024

Action, patience and observation

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

Reading does nothing without action. Action does nothing without patience and observation. When you know a little, more of the readings will make sense.
photo by Tessa Onderwater

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Play is the work of childhood

PLAY is the work of childhood.

Play IS the work of childhood.

Play is THE work of childhood.

Play is the WORK of childhood

original text (format and all)
by Cathy Koetsier
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fairness, in arguments

Sandra Dodd, from 2012 [so add some years to the number]:

Twenty-five years ago, my husband said it wasn't fair that we were culturally limited to words, and I could always win with words. If physical ability "counted" he would win, so he was set up to lose. After that I tried not to "beat him up" with words, because he was right—it wasn't fair. When friends of ours got married, and the husband was strong, fast AND very much more verbal, I told him that story, and he appreciated it. He reported back a couple of times early in their marriage that he was about to totally, easily win an argument, and remembered that it wasn't fair, and backed down.

AlwaysLearning; Alex P. quoted me, and commented
photo by Cally Brown

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Stages and phases

Someone wrote:
As a new unschooler, I am working toward being less of a "helicopter parent" and more of a watch-from-a-distance parent...
Laurie Wolfrum responded:
While moving towards being calmer and more thoughtful is good, you don't have to think of yourself as any certain kind of parent to do so. It is good if something helps you think of how you can be a better parent. However, I would let go of trying to fit into any kind of label and *be* the responsible and thoughtful parent you wish to be for your child.

Children go through many stages and phases, some of which warrant our close presence and others which warrant our respectful distance. Don't let a label coax you into doing something you don't feel good about. Trust your gut and watch your kid for cues.
—Laurie Wolfrum

More of both those quotes:
photo by Holly Clark
Gold Coast Always Learning Live, 2014

Monday, June 10, 2024

Don't say everything you think.

People who talk too much can damage their kids' willingness to listen, but I think they can also disturb the peace in deep and hurtful ways.

photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, June 9, 2024

See it more and more

See learning as your priority, and you will begin to see it more and more.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 8, 2024

If mathematics is easy for a person...

Disclaimers: Unschooling doesn't ensure mathematical ability.

I wrote this before Marty got a degree in economics. They were 18 or older before taking any classes, and only needed to pay for the books.

My kids all caught up with formal math in a semester or two of community college. Marty did up to calculus. Kirby only took one class but makes use of math all the time in his work and play, and is good with money and loans and banking and all that practical life stuff.

Holly took three classes, I think. Maybe two. Liked it; it wasn't difficult. There were people in class with her bemoaning the difficulty, and they had been in school for twelve years or more, taking math classes.

That was written in 2014. Their paid employment and their hobbies, since then, have involved some or all of logistics, statistics, financial accounting, coding/programming, inventory and cash handling. What they learned in class was the notation used to communicate mathematical ideas "on paper" in our culture.

Some of their facility might have been inherited genetically from their mathish dad. That's fair, too.
photo by Shawn Smythe Haunschild

Friday, June 7, 2024


If one thing makes you think of another thing, you form a connection between them in your mind. The more connections you have, the better access you have to cross-connections. The more things something can remind you of, the more you know about it, or are learning about it.
icy-web photo by Cathy Koetsier

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Learning in quirky ways

I'm completely sure of unschooling because I believe in people's desire and ability to learn wonderful things in quirky ways if they're given the opportunity.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

How much and when

"Gauge how much to do and when by your child’s reactions. Let her say no thanks. Let her choose. Let her interest set the pace. If it takes years, let it take years. If it lasts an hour, let it last an hour."
—Joyce Fetteroll

Five Steps to Unschooling
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Why be good?

Early in online discussions of unschooling, pre-AOL even, Christian homeschoolers and unschoolers were in the same groups—all homeschoolers jumbled together. Once someone did ask me, in public (not in a mean way but in a curious way) HOW, without religion, would my kids be good?

It was a great question. They were good because it made them better people. Not to go to Heaven or to avoid hell. Not to make Jesus happy.
. . . .
With good, logical reasons to be honest and helpful and responsible, religion on top of that would not have hurt my kids. I was aware that they might for one reason or another someday become religious on their own, but I also knew that leaving that church (or whatever it might be) wouldn't be the end of virtue for them.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Of course there are Christian unschoolers, too
Resources for Christian Unschoolers
and unschoolers of many other religions, beliefs and leanings. The dichotomy above came from the Christian Homeschooling mom asking me a practical philosophical question.

Monday, June 3, 2024

All directions

Be open to input from all directions.

Be willing to go in different directions, over the years—with your feet, and with your thoughts.
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Winchester

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Modelling consideration

Unschooling should be about peaceful, supportive relationships, about modelling consideration and thoughtful choicemaking, and about learning.

Being loud and wild and "breaking the rules" seems to be a celebratory stage for some people who are new to unschooling, but it shouldn't be the goal or destination. It's not good for that family, really. It's not good for those who wonder what unschooling is about.
Gradual Change   •   Unschooing Nest

Quote is from Too Far, Too Fast
photo by Nicole Kenyon

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Doing very well

Rejoice when your child surpasses you in skill, knowledge or wisdom.

Nearly a quote, from
Dodd family, 2012, Always Learning Live
photo by Trista Teeter