Steiner books

Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children

Culture is nothing more or less than the way we live our lives.
— Sharifa Oppenheimer

My imagination had conjured up scenes of calm babies in beautiful clothes held by a rested, peaceful mother glowing from the miracle of birth. The reality, however, was more like exhausted parents from the rooming-in of healthy premature twins, waiting for someone to release them from a hospital of onlookers so they could get some sleep already!

I remember uttering the words, “where is the parenting manual that describes this”? A far cry from the ethereal beginning I expected, but it was not the last time that my idea of parenting differed from reality.

In Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children Sharifa Oppenheimer gives young parents the tools and ideas to create their unique family culture. An inspirational model, complete with space to write in the margins and take notes, once you have had some sleep and identify as a parent to a small human.

Rhythms

For many years, I have told our boys imagination stories. These stories rooted in my childhood memories of trips to visit family, magical creatures coming to life in the garden, or mischievous twin boys that went on fantastic adventures while their parents were busy. Later, the boys would take over the creative stories and I would move them along with a prompt of ‘and then what happened’? Our family rhythm of reading a book before bed is so well established that the kids remind us it is time to read together, and we all enjoy finding out what those Hardy Boys are up to today!

Sharifa Oppenheimer, inspired by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, helps us see that education is a lifetime of moments, beginning with imitating the adults in their lives. It is with Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, that we can bring back the great traditions of raising a family by teaching them who they are by how we live.

Creating a Family Culture

The family is a living breathing thing. Our daily actions teach our children how they are an essential part of our family organism. They belong to a group of people that treasure their gifts and support their challenges. It is through our family interactions they learn the intricacies of social behavior in the safety of the home environment and form the foundations of their identities. We can either do this consciously as she suggests or not, but the quality of our family culture rests on the awareness we bring to it.

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Heaven on Earth is a must have for every parent of young children. It reminds me that a wide-awake parent raises a child who has the courage to see things as they are, and can build that important relationship with their inner selves to guide them to one day create their own family culture.

You can buy Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children at SteinerBooks.org as well as the accompanying guide How to Create the Star of Your Family Culture: The Heaven on Earth Workbook.

What does it mean to grow sustainable children?

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One of the favorite things I have learned with our move to Wyoming is the wisdom from new friends. I love flowers and for most of my adult life have grown flowers and a few herbs to include in my meals.

I remember one Texas neighbor asking if I was growing any food and as I looked around my garden all I saw was flowers. Flowers feed my soul, so yes I guess I was growing food - soul food.

Yesterday, a friend and I launched our gardening block for our children’s learning community. A community brought together by a need to allow our children to experience learning together in a group and also have time to learn through play. We are all homeschooling families who were looking for more. Our class is our evolving answer.

Watching the children intuitively know what to do, being gentle with the seed potatoes, listening intently to our resident garden queen, my friend Jody, was more than just another thing to check off a curriculum checklist. It was a nourishing act of teaching and learning.

We began by reciting the poem Seeds by Molly De Havas, from The Waldorf Book of Poetry. As the children followed the rhythm of the words and read out loud together, they began to form the living breathing connections of learning together.

I told stories of the Irish Potato Famine, the latest discovery in Utah of the Four Corners Potato, and how the famine brought my great-grandmother to America. We talked about biodiversity and how that would prevent famine from happening again.

The group of children ranged in age from 4-10, and they all began to understand how important it is to nurture the ground that will feed you.

Growing food and caring for the earth is primal.
— Ronni Sands

Our lesson was about potatoes, but it was more than that. It planted the seed of paying attention, nurturing the earth that will feed us, and had them asking when the next class would be.

The book Growing Sustainable Children, A Garden Teacher’s Guide was a five-year project of writing down the unique way author Ronnie Sands leads children of all ages through the experience of gardening.

It will teach you, the teacher, to create activities that support child development and guide your self-development. Our class was children, but it was observed by parents who were as drawn into the process as their children - perhaps more so.

Growing Sustainable Children: A Garden Teacher's Guide is a method to bring communities together while supporting the connection between humans and the earth that feed not only our bodies but also our souls.