Category Archives: Upcoming Events

Visit Our Heaven on Earth often, to see the wide offering of both events for Rose Garden families as well as events for families in the wider community.

Heart of Discipline Conference in North Carolina

Next weekend I will be in North Carolina for this wonderful conference.  Join us there!

Science on the Playground

“How does the world work, and how do I fit into it?” This is the daily, living question of the young child. We can allow plenty of time and plenty of space for our children to wonder, to explore, to experiment, to keep trying, to learn. And isn’t much of learning discovering the right questions to ask? In this way, the questions remain alive; the “answers” are part of an on-going process. When we allow this hands-on exploratory learning, and do not limit  the questions or answers with our linear adult concepts, the children learn in the same way Mother Nature herself learns: through scaffolding, or “serial functional progression.” The answers become a platform for the next set of really interesting questions. Our children experience themselves as avid students of life.

In these photos we see the Universe hard at work: How many stumps, boards, bricks and pine cones does it take to make the see-saw go down and the children go up? How do “up and down” operate, and what is the relationship between stumps, elbow grease and results? And what might be the relationship between the big black bugs and the small brown one (in the blue bowl)?  When we learn to live the questions, life is rich!

Bridge between School and Home

Hello, friends!  It is September and school has begun again.  The children are full of joy to be back into the simple warm rhythms; enfolded by this rhythmic flow, they grow more fully into themselves.  Here is what one parent wrote me about the bridge her child has built between home and school:

“The school day doesn’t just stop when the day is over. Greer plays school whenever she is at home as well. At home she gets the chance to be the teacher. She sets up our living room like the living room at The Rose Garden. Moving the coffee table and couches so that the space is just right. She brings in her own chair along with a cup of tea and some crackers. She sets her babies up in a semi circle around her so everyone can see and then she begins to “read” her story always starting with the chime of the bell which at our house is the clinging of silverware. She then sips on her tea as she tells her story with a big (all words) book in her lap.

When the time for resting comes up she prepares by laying all the colored silkies around the room and placing each baby it the appropriate place. She covers them says sweet words to them and gives each a gentle rocking motion to help the fall asleep. Once everyone is satisfied she goes to her chair and has a sip of tea.

Watching this take place in my own living room gives me a sense of satisfaction and pure joy. What my husband and I are giving our youngest of three is a treasure that is molding her into the gentle and kind human-being that we had hoped for when we decided to become parents.

Thank you to Sharifa and  Rebecca for keeping us grounded in what really matters in life. The innocence and love our children bring us everyday.”  Shannon

And thank you, Shannon, for sharing this with us! These rhythms create the foundation for a lifetime.  During the summer, I had the pleasure of talking, on separate occasions, with two of my former students who are now college students.  Each young woman told me how deeply her early years had formed and shaped her.  The years spent in this forest busily building “homes” for insects & feeding the birds as well as singing, painting, playing  and listening intently to stories had given them a deep love for the world, and also a beginning direction in their future work.  One young woman is studying environmental law and she said she paints for pleasure, while the other is a poet as well as environmental activist.

The environment of our home gives shape to the young soul; let us be joyful for this gift, as we go about  our “daily round!”

Re-Thinking Childhood: Parenting and Educating Children in a Time of Global Transformation

In agricultural societies, winter is the time to think-through and plan for the future.  Decisions regarding which crops to continue, which fields to allow to remain fallow, and new seeds to experiment with are at the forefront of farmer’s minds.  Today, as I watch the snowfall just  outside my window, I also am thinking of seeds for the future.  I am pleased to invite you to join me and others who contemplate our best future, to the March 4 -6, 2011 conference Re-Thinking Childhood: Parenting and Educating Children in a Time of Global Transformation hosted by Great Lakes Teacher Training, Milwaukee, WI.

Joan Almon, Executive Director of The Alliance for Childhood and I will keynote the conference.  We will work with a host of workshop presenters who will offer topics for educators, parents, community leaders and all forward thinking people.   This is from the brochure:

“Our world has been changing rapidly. We see transformation on a global scale in the fields of technology and science, in our natural environment and farms, in the economy and politics. It’s hard to even imagine the future our children will be entering into as adults. How can we best prepare them for the unknown? What experiences do they need to grow into adults who know themselves and have a sense of purpose? Can we imagine forms of education and childcare that support the development of meaningful relationships as a foundation for new and better ways of life”

Please follow this link, to visit and consider joining us for this important conference. Together we envision the future!    www.waldorftraining.com/marchconf120610.htm

On a final note, here is a thought from one of my up-coming presentations:

Those of us who are committed to the future ask ourselves a critically important question: “What is the best thing I can do, for the children?” But I would propose that we consider another equally critical question: “Who is the best person I can be, for the children?” How can I become my very best self? Who we are is the subtext our children read while we live each day with them, as we go about our “doing.”

It is our consciousness, knowing who we are, that shapes our children and the future as well. Raising and educating our children to know themselves prepares them best for whatever the future may hold. For it is in knowing ourselves, that we hold the compass which guides our actions. When we know who we are, we will know what to do.

The Lantern Walk is Coming!

Autumn is a time to turn around and survey the work of the year.  A time to assess what has developed, before we make plans for what is to come.  In doing this, I looked back to my first post on this blog, and here is what I found.  At the exact moment we begin preparing for the Lantern Walk this year!

“All week long the children had been watching Rebecca and me make paper lanterns of their watercolor paintings, folding and cutting the stars so perfectly, gluing and stapling, attaching the wire handles, filling each one with a candle. Such anticipation….the Lantern Walk!

Finally in the gathering dark, each little lantern was lit, their cut out stars shone bravely and the warmth of their red and gold glow gave us good cheer as we walked the woodland path. Rustling through the fallen leaves, singing through the woods, happily we trudged up and ever up the forested hillside. Round we looped, until at my long driveway’s end, the children had a thrill: if their parents agreed, they might hand the lantern to the adult, then run like the wind through the dark, all the way to the playground gate!

Like the children, we can work, in our adult life, to create a sturdy container, then carry our light into a dark world. We can follow the thread laid out by our own heart, illumined by the heart’s light, regardless of the twisting path or depth of darkness. In the end, we run on light feet, we run toward Home! This is an image to live with, to give our children, an image to begin a new journey together.”

Africa Alive

Let me tell you a story of two young mothers, a lot like yourselves.

Susanna and I met each other through our children, Shanti and Loren. We were looking for like-minded families with whom we could share the fun, the work, the frustrations, the baby sitters. Some little bit of magic sparked, and were suddenly close friends. We raised our babies together, and when it was time to send them to school, we worked with a group of dedicated parents to create the Charlottesville Waldorf School. Babies and brothers came to our families, and our children went to school, played baseball, swam at the pond together. My best memory is meeting at the pond, day after day, summer after summer: we splashed in the water, sat in the shade life guarding, we talked, and brought out the picnic lunches. We even made little nap spots in the shade for the kids afternoon snooze. Shanti and my son Noah went to Senior Prom together.

Life ensued, Susanna went back to school for an MBA, our lives became too full and we saw each other only for special occasions. A few moths ago, Susanna called. I knew her work had taken her into World Health, specifically to Africa, and heard through the grapevine she was at the Curry School at UVA completing a doctorate in Education. She surprised me by telling me one of her classmates had given her my name because I was a local educator interested in the brain development of babies and young children. Our interests had once again aligned! As Susanna described her project to me, I began to see threads of her work and mine weaving together to create something remarkable.

This where, if you choose, you enter the story. read more »

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is always loved by the children, but especially so this year.  I have been telling the children “table stories”, stories they ask for while we are all at the big snack table.  A few days before Valentine’s Day, I told them the story of making heart-shaped waffles for my boys, now grown men, on Saturday mornings.  I showed them the heart shaped waffle iron, and they of course responded, “And will you make them for us?”  Up until the wee hours the night before, making mountains of waffles, I was was tired but happy on Valentine’s morning.  The children arrived, and with their parents help, they delivered the lovely hand-made Valentines to their friends’ bright bags.  The great excitement was eating the heart shaped waffles with fresh strawberry syrup!

The table story I told the children today is this:  Each Valentine’s Day, I wait eagerly for my gift from Mother Earth.  Usually, within a day or two, I hear the first call of the mourning dove, who returns to my woods from her long migration.  Today we will listen carefully, as we play in the woods.

Create Your Family Culture

Join Sharifa Oppenheimer this summer!

Create Your Family Culture

    Or How to Live your Values amidst the Rising Tide of Commercialism

A Summer Camp for Families with Young Children
July 27th – 31, 2009 Monday – Friday

DESCRIPTION

Parents of young children will  begin to explore the regeneration of 21st century family life.  You will envision the “Star” of your family’s culture, studying deeply your own family’s rhythm, your family’s work together and play together. You will inquire into your child’s life, looking carefully at art, stories and the nature of play itself. The complex and often confusing questions of discipline will be discussed, beginning with your own sense of discipline. You will learn the fine balance of both protecting your children from the effects of this 21st century highly media-saturated culture, while also preparing them as young adults, to step into their world with courage, hope and commitment. read more »