Essentials of Early Childhood Seminar

Are you wondering how to slow down the pace of your family’s life, how to create harmony and rhythm in your home, and how to take care of yourself as well?  My friend Donna Ashton, at The Waldorf Connection, is offering a six-week course in Essentials of Early Childhood which promises to offer insight and inspiration.  Topics will include Child Development, Rhythm, Creative Play, Discipline and more.  I will again be one of the presenters, and I very much look forward to participating.  Below is a description, and a link to log-on.  The introductory class is tomorrow, Sept 23, and I will be offering thoughts on Rhythm, while others will present the topics mentioned.  This is a great chance to take a class while at ease and at home!

Donna is introducing a BRAND-NEW program to teach you the “Essential Elements of Early Childhood.” And she is getting everyone started for free in her class, “3 Ways to Create a Nourishing Home for your Child”  On this info-packed call you’ll learn: 1. What is play? – with Lisa Boisvert MacKenzie 2. The 4 Senses in Early Childhood Development – with Danielle Epifani 3. The Importance of a Mother’s Voice – with Christine Natale Here’s that link again to reserve your spot in this complimentary class!


La Leche League Conference is coming soon!



Breastfeeding & Parenting Conference
Friday, October 1, 2010 – 7 PM

Foundations of Healthy Brain Development

We know how deeply nutrition affects healthy brain development, and yet have we ever considered that each aspect of the young child’s life is also ‘nutritional?’  Because the young child is at-one with their environment, they absorb the totality of their environment at the most profound level, in a way similar to the  digestive system which absorbs everything that is taken in.  We will take an in-depth look at the development of the brain, beginning in pregnancy, and extending through childhood.  Come learn the fundamentals of healthy brain development, and how to create home environments that promote the fullest whole-brain development.

Keynote is FREE with a conference registration! This presentation is going to be amazing!

Sharifa will be available to sign your copy of HEAVEN ON EARTH – Saturday – 12:15-1:00pm.

For more information, contact Kate at:


Sharifa Speaks at The Waldorf Connection Home School Expo

Hello Friends of Heaven on Earth!  It is a pleasure to let you know I will be speaking this coming Tuesday night (June 16) at The Waldorf Connection Home School Expo.  This is an on-line tele-seminar, offered to to you completely free.  Tuesday evening’s talk will be about Establishing Healthy Home Rhythms.  Other topics you might be interested in are “Rites of Passage”  “Handwork”  “Music”, and more.   Each Tuesday and Thursday evening for the next four weeks, a topic will be presented by experts in the area.  Be sure to check the Super Saturday schedule of speakers, as well.  When you register, you are given the contact info to dial-in or log-on, and join the conversation!

Donna Ashton, a home school mom, has created this extraordinary web-site and event as an educational tool for those interested in bringing Waldorf Education into their homes.  The seminar offers you the opportunity, on-line and by phone, to hear top Waldorf Educators lecture on topics of interest to home schoolers and all families interested in pursuing the insights offered by Waldorf Education.   Just go to to register.  This is a terrific free offering!  Here is the invitation from Donna:

You are invited to attend, as my guest, an extraordinary
online event that has the potential to
really make a difference in your homeschooling days! …
Reserve your seat now for-
The Waldorf Connection Homeschool Expo online series
This new program  is positioned to give you the information on planning your upcoming year, help with rhythm in your home and give you a chance to experience LIVE speakers & teachers in the Waldorf Community.
The series begins Thursday May 27 and is totally Free! All you need to do is register and I  will send you all the dial-in information and webcast links.

Spring Rains and Indoor Play

These Virginia spring rains have offered several deliciously imaginative indoor play days at The Rose Garden.  In Heaven on Earth I wrote about indoor play:

It is tempting to create our child’s playspace upstairs, or in the room around the corner. What we may find with a child younger than five, though, is that he gathers his toys and brings them wherever we are. Wherever the most traffic is, wherever life is lived the most, that is exactly where he wants to be. If the kitchen is the central place, with the dining room off the kitchen, this is the perfect place for him. If the living room adjoins the dining room, better still.

On a rainy day children have the long expanse of time to deepen into their play.  Story lines can become complex and filled with the stuff of human dilemma.  Or fanciful flights of imagination can arise.  Let’s allow these rains to not only nurture our gardens, but our children’s creative imagination, as well.  Relax and enjoy!

Children in Nature

Young children are close to the realm of nature because they are still very natural beings. Because their consciousness is not yet separated from the environment, because they still live in the consciousness of oneness, of unity, they belong still to the natural world. In time they will belong to themselves, as the process of individuation becomes complete. But for about the first seven years, they are still at one with the world they inhabit. The process of separating from the parents and from the environment buds only around age seven. Before that, the child is moved along by life, something like the way a tree’s leaves dance in the breeze. The young child responds to the environment in a very unself-conscious way, a very natural way, and the open, complex, and diverse environment of the outdoors gives him that opportunity.

The Gift

The single best gift a parent can give their children is to be attuned to them, to know what it feels like inside their skin, and to respond interactively from this “knowing.” The only way the child can learn to know who they are is by having been “known” in this way by a parent. The only way a child can “see themselves” is by looking into the mirror of the parents’ heart, and see themselves reflected back. The greatest gift we can give our child is to carry this question in our hearts: “who is this soul, and who will they grow to become?” We carry this question with open wonder, attuning to them and helping to inform their human experience. Eventually as a young adult they can begin to carry this very most human question by themselves “Who am I?” By your loving presence, you help to shape the answer.

Brain Trust

To watch these young children play freely in the natural world is like watching the time-elapsed photographs of a flower opening. Today eleven children spent more than an hour taking the kernels off Indian corn, and developing story lines which sprang from this: be-jeweled fairy houses, grinding stations, corn deliveries…the engines of society were revving, the intelligence pool of the future was popping.

Essentials of Learning

This weekend, I give a talk on “Brain Development and the Three Essentials of Learning” at the Years of Wonder Conference inn Ann Arbor.  Children need three essentials: a wide palette of sense input, the freedom to move responsively, and a “holding” adult.  We know that movement is the great integrator of all the senses.  Here, in the hammock, this child is experiencing the finest “learning enrichment” possible!

Spring Festival

We live in the great round of the year, and the celebration of festivals lives deeply in our roots. Across all cultures and ages, humans have come together in observance of the progression of time, in recognition of our relationship to the earth. Although our western society has become far removed from these agricultural origins, we can give recognition to the way these rhythms still live in us through the celebration of family festivals. We can rejoice in the turning of the seasons at home with images, stories, foods and activities that evoke seasonal qualities. Many of the agricultural festivals and their closely associated religious holidays have been claimed by marketing agencies and have become overly commercial, devoid of soul. If we choose, though, we can ensoul them and make them our own unique celebrations. They can become a picture of our  life together.

In the celebration of a festival, we take a moment outside of the inexorable progression of time. We stop time, so to speak. In this way we can assess where we are right now. We can look back over the last year, remembering where we were, what we did, and who was present this time last year. We can pause to glance over what the year has brought, how we have changed and grown, as individuals and as a family. We can also cast our glance into the future, looking to see how  we will change in the coming year and what will be needed at that time.

In the Festival, we step into Eternity…come celebrate!

Keynote Speaker for Years of Wonder Conference!

It is such a great pleasure to let you know I will be the keynote speaker for The years of Wonder Conference April 23 -24, in Ann Arbor! Friday night’s talk will be Family Culture and The Role of Discipline. I like to say “Love’s other name is Discipline.” What greater way to offer Love to our children than to instill in them the discipline they will need to lead a successful and bountiful life?

Saturdays morning’s talk will be on Childhood Brain Development, and the Best Practices to foster this. The way I explain the brain development workshop is to say that behind every single recommendation in Heaven on Earth, there is solid research that supports the practices. Current research supports all of the good parenting practices that are tried and true: the physical and emotional well-being of the pregnant mother profoundly affects the baby’s in-utero brain development, each stage of development depends upon the strong functionality of the prior stage, so go slowly and don’t rush the child, nurse your baby, carry your baby on your body, the emotional balance of the mother (and the father)determine the emotional state of the child, make plenty of time for conversation, eat meals together, plenty of time to play, for art, for stories….all of these practices influence brain development.

If parents understand a very simplified version of the way the brain works, you can know how critical each of these “best practices” truly is. You also have a science-based reply to the extended family, or neighbors, or whom ever it might be that questions your parenting choices. When we choose to go a different route than the main stream it is helpful to defend one’s choices with hard science.

Saturday afternoon offers break-out sessions that augment the keynote addresses, with many hands-on experiences available to parents. This will be a great celebration of children and their families! For more info go to or google Rudolf Steiner School Ann Arbor.