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Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children

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A BESTSELLER SINCE 2006 As we see a shift of old forms that were once the foundations of our daily lives, parents--who must prepare the next generation to meet the changing world--have more questions today than ever before. Although our cultural values and family structures may change, it is the atmosphere in the home that continues to form the foundation of a child's life. A BESTSELLER SINCE 2006 As we see a shift of old forms that were once the foundations of our daily lives, parents--who must prepare the next generation to meet the changing world--have more questions today than ever before. Although our cultural values and family structures may change, it is the atmosphere in the home that continues to form the foundation of a child's life. In Heaven on Earth, parent and educator Sharifa Oppenheimer reveals how parents can make the home environment warm, lively, loving, and consistent with their highest ideals. Heaven on Earth balances a theoretical understanding of child development with practical ideas, resources, and tips that can transform family life. Readers will learn how to create the regular life rhythms needed to establish a foundation for learning; how to design indoor play environments that allow children the broadest development of skills; and how to create outdoor play spaces that encourage vigorous movement and a wide sensory palette. Through art, storytelling, and the festival celebrations, this book is an invaluable guide to building a "family culture" based on the guiding principle of love--a culture that supports children and encourages the free development of each unique soul. Sharifa Oppenheimer offers a gift from the heart. Heaven on Earth is a practical, inspiring resource that brings the author's informed, intuitive understanding of young children into the heart of the home. CONTENTS How to Use This Book 1. How Our Young Children Learn 2. The World of Rhythm 3. Celebrating Festivals Together 4. Indoor Play 5. Outdoor Play 6. The Wonder of Stories 7. Artistic Experiences for Your Young Child 8. Other Topics Parents Wonder About 9. Creating Your Family Culture


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A BESTSELLER SINCE 2006 As we see a shift of old forms that were once the foundations of our daily lives, parents--who must prepare the next generation to meet the changing world--have more questions today than ever before. Although our cultural values and family structures may change, it is the atmosphere in the home that continues to form the foundation of a child's life. A BESTSELLER SINCE 2006 As we see a shift of old forms that were once the foundations of our daily lives, parents--who must prepare the next generation to meet the changing world--have more questions today than ever before. Although our cultural values and family structures may change, it is the atmosphere in the home that continues to form the foundation of a child's life. In Heaven on Earth, parent and educator Sharifa Oppenheimer reveals how parents can make the home environment warm, lively, loving, and consistent with their highest ideals. Heaven on Earth balances a theoretical understanding of child development with practical ideas, resources, and tips that can transform family life. Readers will learn how to create the regular life rhythms needed to establish a foundation for learning; how to design indoor play environments that allow children the broadest development of skills; and how to create outdoor play spaces that encourage vigorous movement and a wide sensory palette. Through art, storytelling, and the festival celebrations, this book is an invaluable guide to building a "family culture" based on the guiding principle of love--a culture that supports children and encourages the free development of each unique soul. Sharifa Oppenheimer offers a gift from the heart. Heaven on Earth is a practical, inspiring resource that brings the author's informed, intuitive understanding of young children into the heart of the home. CONTENTS How to Use This Book 1. How Our Young Children Learn 2. The World of Rhythm 3. Celebrating Festivals Together 4. Indoor Play 5. Outdoor Play 6. The Wonder of Stories 7. Artistic Experiences for Your Young Child 8. Other Topics Parents Wonder About 9. Creating Your Family Culture

30 review for Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Parts of this were too prescriptive for me. Don't buy plastic toys for your kids, for example (she recommends corn cobs instead). I know they are just suggestions, but she puts them forth like they are the one right way to parent. I did, however, find a few suggestions that I have incorporated in my own home. One was what to say when kids say they're bored. You can say, "Good! That will give you a chance to think, which will help you come up with ideas. Let me know what you come up with!" Parts of this were too prescriptive for me. Don't buy plastic toys for your kids, for example (she recommends corn cobs instead). I know they are just suggestions, but she puts them forth like they are the one right way to parent. I did, however, find a few suggestions that I have incorporated in my own home. One was what to say when kids say they're bored. You can say, "Good! That will give you a chance to think, which will help you come up with ideas. Let me know what you come up with!"

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I LOVED this book! Definitely on the hippie/crunch side, but so many good ideas and no lecturing. I'm excited to put many of her ideas into practice, and I especially like the part about how doing daily chores (that are considered drudgery) with love can be a wonderful way of showing your children you love them. So much good advice about playing outside and using imagination, too. Must read! Heather, this is definitely one for your *someday* list! I LOVED this book! Definitely on the hippie/crunch side, but so many good ideas and no lecturing. I'm excited to put many of her ideas into practice, and I especially like the part about how doing daily chores (that are considered drudgery) with love can be a wonderful way of showing your children you love them. So much good advice about playing outside and using imagination, too. Must read! Heather, this is definitely one for your *someday* list!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mama Joy

    I'm walking away from this book with a greater understanding of the value of open-ended play and how I can allow my kids to be kids and learn through experience. There's a lot that I already have incorporated into our family structure and a lot to still incorporate. It's good for a type-A like myself to be reminded to live in the moment instead of living in my to-do lists. And I want to not intrude on their imaginative world where I impose my adult views on their experience. The author and I dif I'm walking away from this book with a greater understanding of the value of open-ended play and how I can allow my kids to be kids and learn through experience. There's a lot that I already have incorporated into our family structure and a lot to still incorporate. It's good for a type-A like myself to be reminded to live in the moment instead of living in my to-do lists. And I want to not intrude on their imaginative world where I impose my adult views on their experience. The author and I differed on many points, yet I gleaned so much inspiration that it is well-worth the time to read. Highly recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book came highly reviewed (as one of her top two parenting books) by a blog that I really like ( my link text) so I was expecting a lot out of it. And while yes, I did gain some inspiration (particularly related to consciously developing a family rhythm and culture), the book itself felt so idealized and elitist that I was a bit turned off. In order to fully implement everything she says every kid should have, you'd really have to live in the country and be rich. For example, in the "Outdoo This book came highly reviewed (as one of her top two parenting books) by a blog that I really like ( my link text) so I was expecting a lot out of it. And while yes, I did gain some inspiration (particularly related to consciously developing a family rhythm and culture), the book itself felt so idealized and elitist that I was a bit turned off. In order to fully implement everything she says every kid should have, you'd really have to live in the country and be rich. For example, in the "Outdoor Play" chapter, she says that every kid really should have some kind of hill to play on. She recommends importing several loads of dirt into an unused area of your yard if you don't already have a natural hill. That's all well and good if you have oodles of money and an acre of land but really not practical for the vast majority of parents, particularly those of us striving to parent our children in the city/suburbs. I'm trying to get to the essences of what she's saying (kids needs lots of space/time to play outside, etc., etc.) but it's hard to see through the elitism. Here's another example - in the clothing section, she makes some very sensible suggestions (which I totally agree with) for simple, comfortable clothes for kids but in the Appendix just suggests one source, Hannah Andersson. Who can afford to cloth their kids entirely in Hannah Andersson? Anyway, enough ranting. There's definitely a lot of useful info in this book but you'll just have to get through some of the other stuff. And if you're a parent who finds it hard not to feel inadequate when reading parenting books, definitely don't read this one because I think Ihave a pretty thick skin but I'm still finding myself saying, "Ellie hasn't does any modeling with real clay yet, will she be scarred forever?" (Eric - do you experience any of this kind of attitude at your Waldorf school?)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I really liked the parts about establishing a family rhythm and discipline... disliked the Jesus commentary, and while the book is called "Heaven on Earth" I thought it was unnecessarily and somewhat awkwardly inserted into her commentary. The writing style is overall... terribly flowery. So while the concepts were good, reading it was a bit painful. I really liked the parts about establishing a family rhythm and discipline... disliked the Jesus commentary, and while the book is called "Heaven on Earth" I thought it was unnecessarily and somewhat awkwardly inserted into her commentary. The writing style is overall... terribly flowery. So while the concepts were good, reading it was a bit painful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kit

    Extremely helpful in terms of ideas on how to set rhythms and seasonal celebrations - as well as ideas on how to optimize play spaces (both indoors and out) for children. However, I thought the discipline sections were kind of harsh.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bobbie Greene

    Through my research on child development (I'm a high school teacher, but a first-time mom) I have become extremely interested in Waldorf education. I'd never even heard of it until I started reading books like Simplicity Parenting and You Are Your Child's First Teacher. I guess it's not as nationally popular as the better-known Montessori education. And while Heaven on Earth does not explicitly say it is a Waldorf-inspired book, it is; and it is wonderful! For families that have not yet found the Through my research on child development (I'm a high school teacher, but a first-time mom) I have become extremely interested in Waldorf education. I'd never even heard of it until I started reading books like Simplicity Parenting and You Are Your Child's First Teacher. I guess it's not as nationally popular as the better-known Montessori education. And while Heaven on Earth does not explicitly say it is a Waldorf-inspired book, it is; and it is wonderful! For families that have not yet found their rhythm, this book would be a valuable asset to your library. It has suggestions for daily routines, annual routines, seasonal festivals, birthday celebrations, and other ways families can spend time and make memories together. There are also extremely informative suggestions for how to set up your children's indoor and outdoor play spaces to encourage maximum sensory and texture experiences (natural elements, freedom of movement, encouragement of imagination, etc.), explanations of the stages of child play as they age, descriptions of types of books to read with your children that will foster their natural curiosity and development, suggestions for ways to incorporate art into your child's play, and a focus on how everything you do will become a blueprint for your child's rhythms, behavior, and emotional health. They learn through imitation, after all, so we must be mindful that our children are always learning from us. The text is especially helpful, too, for quick references because it has boxes of summarized information on most of the pages. So, you can read in depth when you have more time, and refer back to the boxes for a quick reminder of the key points. This truly is a handbook as the title suggests, and I highly recommend it for any parent who is interested in a holistic approach to child rearing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This was a great handbook for parents of children in the 4 and older age range. Filled with lots of great ideas for craft, play, festival celebrations, and parenting in general. I lost focus in the book from time to time as my child is still under 2 and many of the activities/ideas did not apply yet to us. Furthermore, the author talks about creating a utopia of sorts in the home for the child-- she was incredibly idealistic and sometimes elitist. Any extremist sort of viewpoint on things (no su This was a great handbook for parents of children in the 4 and older age range. Filled with lots of great ideas for craft, play, festival celebrations, and parenting in general. I lost focus in the book from time to time as my child is still under 2 and many of the activities/ideas did not apply yet to us. Furthermore, the author talks about creating a utopia of sorts in the home for the child-- she was incredibly idealistic and sometimes elitist. Any extremist sort of viewpoint on things (no sugar under any circumstances, no tv under any circumstances) leaves me wary of wanting to fully adopt her recommendations. She also wrote the book at a time in her life when, at least it sounded like, all of her children were grown up and out if the house. I think she looks back at her days of parenting very fondly, which is great, but I think she forgets the need of practicality sometimes. If you are able to look beyond all of that, you will still get a lot out of the book. I read it on my kindle but plan on purchasing to have in the house for ideas for activities when my children are older.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I really liked this book! It goes along with things I think about parenting anyway, and things that are being ignored by our mainstream culture. Lots of good, practical ideas about incorporating rhythm into kids' lives, making handmade toys, dealing with social pressures, etc. I'm reading it for the second time (checked it out from the library again) and I'm glad I did. When she says young children, I really think it can apply to anyone through elementary school age. She is definitely coming fro I really liked this book! It goes along with things I think about parenting anyway, and things that are being ignored by our mainstream culture. Lots of good, practical ideas about incorporating rhythm into kids' lives, making handmade toys, dealing with social pressures, etc. I'm reading it for the second time (checked it out from the library again) and I'm glad I did. When she says young children, I really think it can apply to anyone through elementary school age. She is definitely coming from a Waldorf perspective, which I disagree with on a religious level (and on a philosophical level as well) but there is still a bunch of good stuff in here, even for someone who isn't totally into Waldorf education. My favorite quote: Our young children still have one foot in the Eternal, in Heaven. We can join them there, if we give ourselves enough time. p 66

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A LOVELY guide for anyone interested in incorporating Waldorf principles into home life - or those who simply want to take a natural approach to parenting. Filled with practical tips for parents on handling everything from birthday parties, to bedtime routine, to storytime. What really sets this book apart from the others is Oppenheimer's gentle and loving tone, and her long history as a Waldorf teacher and mother of 3 grown boys. She even includes a few recipes and loads of resources for crafts A LOVELY guide for anyone interested in incorporating Waldorf principles into home life - or those who simply want to take a natural approach to parenting. Filled with practical tips for parents on handling everything from birthday parties, to bedtime routine, to storytime. What really sets this book apart from the others is Oppenheimer's gentle and loving tone, and her long history as a Waldorf teacher and mother of 3 grown boys. She even includes a few recipes and loads of resources for crafts, children's books, and more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I absolutely loved this book. The only reason for the four star rating is because due to my Christian belief, I didn't like the new age type thinking that went along with some of the ideas. But, that aside, if you can read with a take or toss fashion, you will find this booking very inspiring. It follows the Waldorf way of teaching, which is very natural minded. Many great ideas for leading our children into a creative way of thinking. I absolutely loved this book. The only reason for the four star rating is because due to my Christian belief, I didn't like the new age type thinking that went along with some of the ideas. But, that aside, if you can read with a take or toss fashion, you will find this booking very inspiring. It follows the Waldorf way of teaching, which is very natural minded. Many great ideas for leading our children into a creative way of thinking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    This book is well-written and has a wonderful format (meaning I only skimmed the parts of the actual text that I really wanted to read and enjoyed all of her "high points" in the margins. The author has some really good points about getting back to basics raising our children, especially the little ones. I didn't agree with her on everything, for example, bedtime snacks and play spaces. Still, it gave me a few more things to think about in my own child-rearing philosophy. This book is well-written and has a wonderful format (meaning I only skimmed the parts of the actual text that I really wanted to read and enjoyed all of her "high points" in the margins. The author has some really good points about getting back to basics raising our children, especially the little ones. I didn't agree with her on everything, for example, bedtime snacks and play spaces. Still, it gave me a few more things to think about in my own child-rearing philosophy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I read all the part that were applicable to Aidan's age. There were some good ideas in here that I am incorporating into our life, but nothing huge. Our new bedtime ritual includes the use of a candle, as she suggests, as do our blessings at meal time. Aidan loves it, of course (especially when we blow it out and the "Saaamoke" appears). I've incorporated some other ideas about using less electronic equipment (bought a carpet sweeper and kid sized broom) and some other minor suggestions. I read all the part that were applicable to Aidan's age. There were some good ideas in here that I am incorporating into our life, but nothing huge. Our new bedtime ritual includes the use of a candle, as she suggests, as do our blessings at meal time. Aidan loves it, of course (especially when we blow it out and the "Saaamoke" appears). I've incorporated some other ideas about using less electronic equipment (bought a carpet sweeper and kid sized broom) and some other minor suggestions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kitty finnigan

    It's a good book. It deals with kids and how to help them with their own lives. Inspiring kids and giving credit to their imaginations and desires. I loved it so much and found useful information thru out the book. I gave it to my Granddaughter as she is raising two of my Great-grandsons. I want the best for them. And, for my Grandaughter as well. This book helps moms be themselves by enriching a mom's own gift toward her children. It's a good book. It deals with kids and how to help them with their own lives. Inspiring kids and giving credit to their imaginations and desires. I loved it so much and found useful information thru out the book. I gave it to my Granddaughter as she is raising two of my Great-grandsons. I want the best for them. And, for my Grandaughter as well. This book helps moms be themselves by enriching a mom's own gift toward her children.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really like this Waldorf book. It's not too over-the-top that I feel guilty about having plastic toys in my home or compelled to buy a huge stash of playsilks, but the author gives a lot of practical, heartfelt information on everything from daily rhythms and seasonal celebrations to creative play and discipline ideas. It also has a great healthy cake recipe. I recommend it for all parents. I really like this Waldorf book. It's not too over-the-top that I feel guilty about having plastic toys in my home or compelled to buy a huge stash of playsilks, but the author gives a lot of practical, heartfelt information on everything from daily rhythms and seasonal celebrations to creative play and discipline ideas. It also has a great healthy cake recipe. I recommend it for all parents.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This would be a great book for first time parents, or parents who want to add magic and wonder to their children's lives but haven't figured out how. For me, well, it was nothing new. It has wonderful ideas about rhythms, celebrations, storytelling, outdoor play, and arts and crafts. I think I will be passing this one on to someone who could use it more than I... This would be a great book for first time parents, or parents who want to add magic and wonder to their children's lives but haven't figured out how. For me, well, it was nothing new. It has wonderful ideas about rhythms, celebrations, storytelling, outdoor play, and arts and crafts. I think I will be passing this one on to someone who could use it more than I...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Last week I had a, "My son is ready for kindergarten" moment. At times he seems bored and other times he's acting out quite a bit. I've been perusing parenting books that have been on my to-read list for a while. This book shares Waldorf philosophy and activities. It's one I'll use some from and go back to again. Last week I had a, "My son is ready for kindergarten" moment. At times he seems bored and other times he's acting out quite a bit. I've been perusing parenting books that have been on my to-read list for a while. This book shares Waldorf philosophy and activities. It's one I'll use some from and go back to again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This was a very thoughtful and well written book on her experience as a teacher and the Waldorf philosophy. The chapters are well laid out and the personal stories make it a great read. I recommend this book to anyone looking for further parenting view points as well as insight into the Waldorf philosophy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Del

    LOVE this book so far. Think I'm going to have to order a copy. I love the Waldorf-style of learning, and this book does an excellent job outlining Waldorf concepts, building a family culture and projects. Done. The last half was every bit as good as the first half. Going to order this-- I took 6 pages of notes and think it would be a good reference. LOVE this book so far. Think I'm going to have to order a copy. I love the Waldorf-style of learning, and this book does an excellent job outlining Waldorf concepts, building a family culture and projects. Done. The last half was every bit as good as the first half. Going to order this-- I took 6 pages of notes and think it would be a good reference.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cori

    This book has wonderful ideas for families with young children. The author is a Waldorf teacher, but her ideas are specific for the home. Daily and weekly rhythms (schedule), imagination, family culture, and celebrating festivals were the parts of this book that were most helpful to me. It is easy to get busy with practical living and forget the play and magic of childhood.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Although some of these ideas are totally unrealistic in my opinion (making corn cob toys and the indoor sandbox come to mind), I loved this book for the ideas and approach to raising outdoors-focused, healthy, and hearty children. I read it on Kindle but wish I'd done a hard copy since I bookmarked so many ideas! Although some of these ideas are totally unrealistic in my opinion (making corn cob toys and the indoor sandbox come to mind), I loved this book for the ideas and approach to raising outdoors-focused, healthy, and hearty children. I read it on Kindle but wish I'd done a hard copy since I bookmarked so many ideas!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tibby (she/her)

    An excellent resource. While this is technically Waldorf, I thought it was more accessible than a lot of Waldorf books and ideas. Just a great book for helping you establish a calm, centered household for your child(ren). Also really encourages you to get into the rhythm of the year and celebrate the seasons.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This book is always referenced in blogs that talk about Waldorf in the home. I would really like to finish reading it someday, but since it's an ILL, I have to send it back. I really like what I read so far. This book is always referenced in blogs that talk about Waldorf in the home. I would really like to finish reading it someday, but since it's an ILL, I have to send it back. I really like what I read so far.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Too nature/earth focused for me, but has great ideas to get me thinking about how to be more creative and imaginative with Beck. The knowledge that kids are completely imitative has resonated with me and I've already noticed how what I'm doing makes a difference in what he's doing. Too nature/earth focused for me, but has great ideas to get me thinking about how to be more creative and imaginative with Beck. The knowledge that kids are completely imitative has resonated with me and I've already noticed how what I'm doing makes a difference in what he's doing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    This book is full of so many great ideas, that it is worth owning. The re-readability on it is great, and the actual writing style flows very nicely. I felt completely inspired by this work, and imagine I will be so again, many times throughout my children's very young childhood. This book is full of so many great ideas, that it is worth owning. The re-readability on it is great, and the actual writing style flows very nicely. I felt completely inspired by this work, and imagine I will be so again, many times throughout my children's very young childhood.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arin Jeffs

    This book was full of great ideas to actually implement a Waldorf style of parenting that is more realistic for parents in our society. Alot less overwhelming than alot of similar books. I am glad I purchased it so I can reference over the next few years.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Heard interesting things about this one so I grabbed it from the library. Interesting and inspiring ideas for a Waldorf lifestyle. Loved that they put the notes in the margin for the reader! Very helpful.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Good Waldorf resource. I would like to read this again when my son is 3 since a lot of the suggestions focused on the 3-7 age range (though many more were all encompassing like advice on creating a family rhythm).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Pinero

    My favorite book on early childhood parenting/educating. Both philosophical and practical, it is one of the books that convinced me that Waldorf was for me. I highly recommend this book for anyone with toddlers, preschoolers or kindergartners.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    Four stars for some reassuring bits about bedtime and scheduling and some storybook recommendations, but let's face it I'm just not going to read this whole thing. Thank you Amy you can have your book back. Four stars for some reassuring bits about bedtime and scheduling and some storybook recommendations, but let's face it I'm just not going to read this whole thing. Thank you Amy you can have your book back.

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