Showing posts sorted by relevance for query /words/words. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query /words/words. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The playground of words

The playground of words is humor. I don't discourage my children from Monty Python, George Carlin, Weird Al Yankovic, and other linguistic athletes of that ilk. Laughter and commentary about people doing circus tricks with words is a world above and beyond vocabulary lists.
I do recall, though, my friends and I made even vocabulary lists fun when I was in school by trying to put all the words in one or two sentences, or by using the words as words, like "The word 'obfuscate' is rarely used," or "'Discrete' is a homonym of 'discreet'," without any hint we knew how to use the words in context (which we usually did).
Words, Words, Words
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The flow of words

Words are like all the oceans and rivers in the world, like the rain and snow. They are insubstantial in a way; they can become solid, as these on this page are, or they can be flowing, as in a song or rhyme, or they can dissolve into the air. They can come crashing against you or knock you down. They can erode trust and love, as water can erode a cliff. They can soothe and heal and cleanse.
There are always more words to choose from and rearrange as you wish, and you can produce more and more new combinations until you're too old to remember how to do it, if you live that long.

Make choices when you use words. . . . Speak from your heart and your thoughts, not from your hurts or your fears. Use your words for good, for nurturing. Use your words to protect the peace of your home. Keep your words to yourself sometimes, but other times be so courageous that you put some words out there as a warning and a fence between you and those who wish to harm you with their own outflow of dangerous words.

Don't waste your words.

Build gifts from words.

from page 197 of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Jessica Sexton, of Gioia Cerullo and Kirby Dodd,
in San Diego, September 2011

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be careful with words.

Words have the liberating power to bring order to the universe, but they also have the power to harm, to limit and to sadden. So be careful with words. Use the good ones, the happy ones.

Words, Words, Words, being an essay on parents, children, and powerful words, by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy thoughts

It takes practice to separate thought from words, especially while one is reading. There are other non-verbal ways to examine and communicate, but for the analytical thinking involved in learning about something new, or deciding how to react, we often use words, even if only in our thoughts.
Words have the power to harm, to limit and to sadden. So be careful with words. Use the good ones, the happy ones.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 15, 2017

"What's that?"

In reviews or analysis of...projects, new words certainly came up. The great thing was we were naming things they had already mastered or begun to understand, in discussing why something worked well, or didn't, or why a ball thrown fast against the wall could come back and hit you really hard. And so we came to words about physics, and force, and vectors, pulleys, gears, and materials. Anatomy lessons came free with sprains, scrapes and bruises. Biology just bubbled up when stickers or insects or rusty nails punctured skin. In the course of answering questions and trying to explain what went wrong or what might work better, we used new words. Science lessons for their own sake, or vocabulary lists, would have done little good (and some harm) but naming what they had already done, felt, tried and accomplished was just a bigger-kid's "What's that?"
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, September 21, 2012

Words, ideas, pictures and knowledge

About words, and learning:

As they got older, and war games, movies about history, and international celebrities came over their intellectual horizon, so did trivia about the borders of countries.

What's with Tibet? Taiwan? When did Italy and France settle into their current borders? Why does Monaco have royalty? The Vatican really has cash machines in Latin? What's the difference between UK and Great Britain? Is Mexico in north or central America? Were Americans REALLY that afraid of and ignorant about the Soviet Union in the 60's? In answering those questions, the terms and trivia of history, geography, philosophy, religion and political science come out. The words are immediately useful, and tied to ideas and pictures and knowledge the child has already absorbed, awaiting just the name, or the definitions, or the categories.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thoughts, words, actions...

"I was frequently reminded that 'thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become your character and your character becomes your destiny'. My dad was gifted at helping me be more thoughtful with my words and actions, and make better choices. He was the kindest person I knew."
—Rippy Dusseldorp Saran
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp Saran

Monday, July 18, 2016

Words about words

I like words. Much of my writing is about terminology, and concepts, and meaning, which is why it can be difficult (or worthless) to translate some of it, because it is of and about English, very often.

"For clarity of thought and for value of discussions about unschooling (or anything), it's important to use words intentionally and carefully. . . . [M]uddled thinking can't lead to clarity nor to better parenting." (My words, from

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Switching words around

Yesterday's quote had the phrase "playful and full of wonder." It seemed to me for a moment that "playful and full" was awkward. But it was a quote. I wrote it last year; it's published.

If it were math, we would make the phrases match—give them a common denominator, or base, or something.
Or they would be commutative. Wonderful and full of play? Full of play and full of wonder?

I think words are wonderful, and it's good to play with them. Sometimes, take the words out of the air, off the page, out of your thoughts and turn them over. Feel how old they are, how solid, how useful. When it comes to language, be playful and full of wonder!
(The words above aren't at the link but other words are!)
photo by Karen James

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Using fewer words

To a mom using way too many words, I wrote:

IF (just if) your regular mode of communication is to coat words in words and then have introductory phrases, that will very likely cause children not to understand you, first of all; not to take you seriously; and eventually not to listen to you.

Think of what you want to communicate and do it in three or five words. With feeling. Be the lead partner in your relationship. Take care of your children. Be solid.

That's for anyone, and everyone, who tends to fall into "Well, sweetie, I understand that you might be feeling frustrated, but your sister doesn't want to be hit and when you yell it hurts mommy's ears, so please find a way to be more peaceful" instead of "HEY. Stop. Leave her alone."

and more quiet

photo by Karen James

Friday, December 28, 2018

Words where they live

What writing needs is a large range of things that begin and expand outside of and away from "paper" or writing of any sort. A familiarity with the range of the language, of voice and tone (without knowing those words, it's easy), of funny words, scary words, plain and fancy words. That comes from listening to comedy, watching award-winning films, and YouTube videos, reading (or hearing someone read) comics, artsy menus, advertisements, legal notices, warning signs, brass plaques on government buildings. Tweets. Posts on yahoogroups or facebook. Post cards. Business letters and birthday cards.
photo by Sandra Dodd (for this post, of things I could see and reach without getting up)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Aware of words

Heather Booth wrote:
One of the things that helped when I started unschooling was becoming aware of the words I used. The clearer I became in my thoughts and the more aware of the impact of my words, the better I was at being an unschooling parent.
. . . .
"Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch" and "Say yes more" are great phrases to get you going in the right direction but if you are still saying "have to" or "junk food " or "screen time" then you're stuck in negative thoughts.
—Heather Booth

Weed Away Words (a chat transcript)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Deciphering written language

Only the reader can decipher it.
. . . .
Cipher is from the Arabic word for zero, and has been in English for a long, long time. "To cipher," meaning to do arithmetic, is a word even my grandfather used, who was born in 1898 and lived in Texas. But why
old metal sign, mounted above an antique doorbell with a horn attached, with cobwebs; sign says 'Speed limit/horses at a walk/motor vehicles/10 miles per hr'
a "ph" and not an "f"? Because it came through Greek. Some Greek mathematician discovered the idea from Arabic, wrote it down in Greek, and it came to other European languages from that. "Ph" words in English are always from Greek.

To decipher something (like reading) means to figure out the patterns.

A parent cannot decipher words for a child. Only the child can decipher written language. You can help! You can help LOTS of ways. One way would be to gain an interest in the words you use yourself, and stop once in a while to examine one, its history, why it means what it means.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 16, 2015

Words and thoughts

Words and thoughts are what you will use to change your beliefs and behaviors.
image made at Wordle by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Two things, two words

I wrote "two things, two words" as a title but most things have more than one name, most words mean more than one thing, and "two" is too small a number for this.

I've brought a photo by Lisa Jonick to help you consider this. If you try to say in one word, or two, what the photo shows, you will leave out three or four important parts.

What is the glass? Mirror. Window. Barrier.
What is the cloth? Backdrop. Projection screen. Drapery.

Is the tree touching the cat? Not really, but it envelopes him and his eyes turn to tree. Behind the cat is the reflection of mountains. It seems to be a continuation of his back. And as this is not "a photo of the mountains," the mountain seems to be inside the house, with the cat.

Lisa saw this, photographed it, saved it, shared it.

There will be many things in your life that you see, or fail to see. Seeing, thinking, naming, all have to do with thought, and categorization, and learning. Take a moment to see what you see richly, and deeply.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Posture, tone, words and action

Peace, in an exchange, has to do with tone of voice, eyes, posture, attitude, intention, compassion—all the non-verbal communications that go with words and actions. Don't underestimate your child's ability to read beneath and around and beyond your statements. You would do well to try to read behind his words, too.

Parenting Peacefully page of The Big Book of Unschooling
(Page 243 of new edition; 209 of older version)
photo by Sandra Dodd, at an old house in France

Friday, April 26, 2019

History, in a word

A parent cannot decipher words for a child. Only the child can decipher written language. You can help! You can help LOTS of ways. One way would be to gain an interest in the words you use yourself, and stop once in a while to examine one, its history, why it means what it means.

Here are some fun practice words you can probably figure out without looking them up, maybe.
These days, you might be able to ask Siri or Alexa for the etymology of a word.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Use your words

Someone once wrote:

"In the past my kids have tended to expect to be waited on hand and foot."

I responded:

If you use phrases like "to be waited on hand and foot," you're quoting other people. That usually means the other person's voice is in your head, shaming you. Or it means you've adopted some anti-kid attitudes without really examining them. If you're having a feeling, translate it into your own words. It's a little freaky how people can channel their parents and grandparents by going on automatic and letting those archaic phrases flow through us. Anything you haven't personally examined in the light of your current beliefs shouldn't be uttered, in my opinion. Anything I can't say in my own words hasn't really been internalized by me. As long as I'm simply quoting others, I can bypass conscious, careful thought.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A better environment for learning

(About online discussions of unschooling:)

Pointing out the words people use is never a waste of time.

Showing people that they have expressed their thoughts in writing in words of their own choosing and posted them is often THE BEST, the most effective way, of moving them from the plateau of *thinking* they get it, because they can recite back the answers, and really, truly, honestly getting it in a way that creates a better environment for learning and being.

Mindful of Words
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Softer words

Some parents express their learning as "struggle" or "challenge," but those words are antagonistic. Try to relax, and try not to feel that you're wrestling (with your child's desires, or with your own thoughts). If you can find softer words, you will experience softer emotions.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a flowering plant
growing out of a rain spout
on a castle