Book Club: Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter One

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the first chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary each week and would love you to join in an interactive conversation about your reflections in the comments section.

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Chapter One – A Sacred Circle: The Sanctuary of Family Life

Entering the Sanctuary of Family Life

  • Consider the idea that we choose our family before we are conceived
  • To make a home sacred we first must accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • At home we learn what love is
  • In a family we show love at times with unabashed devotion

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Family Life

  • It is the responsibility of the homemaker to “really make a difference in the world” (p.22)
  • Peace begins in the home by creating a healthy family life that fosters mutual respect and caring

Seeking Wisdom in Family Life 

  • As parents we are looking to create an environment where children are able to think and act freely 
  • But there is a clear yet fine line between permissiveness and freedom
  • Clear and consistent boundaries are important
  • “Discipline is the seed by which freedom is planted”

The Daily Round

  • Creating a stronger daily rhythm can help to avoid many conflicts between parents & children
  • Rhythm allows children to know what is expected of them

Visions of Beauty

  • Children are like sponges – make sure your home is both beautiful and functional- arrange flowers, light candles and choose peaceful and inspiring colours that speak to the soul. If we feel nurtured by our environment we have more energy to nurture ourselves and others
  • Limit media, especially the news and instead, connect with each other more

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Family Life

  • Here Darian provides two prayers for entering the home which are beautiful transition verses for coming into your home with care
  • Choose a symbol, painting, poem or song to represent your family’s values
  • Rename yourselves with something meaningful and significant to all of you
  • Hold regular family meetings (especially with teenagers) – discuss boundaries, mutual beliefs, values or have fun playing games, singing or praying
  • Sing farewell songs or have a departing verse that you say with one another when going separate ways

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only 

  • Write your ideal visions and desires for the next three years down in the present tense as if they are already being actual used – consider quality of family relationships, the physical environment
  • Keep it written down and read it often and meditate on it
  • Consider how to make these visions come to life and take that journey

In this first chapter, Darian explains how we can find meaning in our day to day lives simply by creating family rituals, rhythms, boundaries and traditions that become part of our sacred family fabric. She states, “[Within a family] we experience the freedom of being who we are, who we are becoming, in an atmosphere of respect and love.” (P.21). This quote really resonated with me. The family home is a sacred space. A respectful and loving environment is the foundation for fostering connected and conscientious citizens of the world.

A little example of how we used this chapter in our own lives: A year or so ago my children (and I) were having a difficult time transitioning from the school ride home and then into the house in a peaceful way. Everyone was often hot, tired and irritable. I insisted each child carried their own bags (and often shoes!) into the house and that they brought their lunch boxes to the kitchen before beginning their afternoon play. For many days it was hard to just get all four of them out of the car without a tear. I decided to add something to our afternoon rhythm- a “Coming Home Verse”. Each day as we gathered on the front porch together we held hands and said one of Darian’s “Prayers for the Home” before opening the door. It acted as a big in breath– centering us and landing us all back on the same page.

If you’re reading along, what did you glean from this chapter? Have you tried any of her suggestions? Any aha moments? We’d love to hear.

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.ca. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. Thank you for your support.

Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian

You may have read or heard of Shea Darwin’s first book- Seven Times the Sun: Guiding your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day. She is also the author of Living Passages for the Whole Family.  Shea is a Mother and “inspired homemaker”, she has a BA in Speech and Theatre, a Master of Divinity Degree and is certified as a multi-faith Spiritual Director and has worked as a Waldorf School Administrator.

Sanctuaries of Childhood – Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life published by Gilead Press contains a selection of poems stories, music and prayers for people who are looking to infuse their family life with spirituality without prescribing to any particular organized religion of belief set.

I will be reviewing and discussing this book chapter by chapter over the coming weeks and I would love for you to read along. You could request a copy from your local library or local Waldorf/Steiner Book Centre or purchase one here or here. Specific songs, verses or poems from the book are not mine to share so if this is something that is of interest to you I highly recommend finding the book and using these reviews to foster a deeper connection with your reading. I will share a chapter summary each week and would love to have an interactive conversation with you about your reflections in the comments section. The chapter reviews/discussions will be posted every Friday here in the Journal. 

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.ca. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. Thank you for your support.

Waldorf-Inspired Homeschooling Years 1 & 3

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homeschool1This is the first year we are homeschooling our children. Our reasons are many and like everyone’s life choices, so unique I hesitate to even bring them up here. I will say we are not whole-heartedly committed to homeschooling for years to come but we did decide that if we were ever going to try it, the time was now.

Waldorf-Inspired Homeschool lesson plans are hard to come by and I for one, am always searching for ideas and inspiration. So, I thought I’d share in this space once a month what we’ve been doing.

My younger children (3 and 18 months) are following the Whole Family Rhythms Guides. These guides were born out of my own desire to create a strong and meaningful rhythm for my younger children to support them (and me) in my days at home. Full disclaimer here: we currently have the luxury of having both parents at home a few days each week which makes my job immensely easier- having time with the older children on their own while he utilizes the Whole Family Rhythms Guides with the younger two.

My eldest daughter has just turned six. She is on the cusp between Kindergarten and Grade One. This year I am introducing main lesson concepts for grade one without too much pressure and only giving her formal lessons 2 days per week. They are both going to Forest School one day. The other days she has free play with her younger sisters. She is taking riding lessons and may begin guitar or piano soon. My son who has just turned eight is also on the cusp between grade two and three. He completed Grade One in Australia at a Waldorf School in December. After a discussion and assessment with a teacher at our local Waldorf School we have decided to formally teach Grade Three this year (with some Second Grade catch-up). We are using concepts and lessons from the Christopherus Curriculum, Earthschooling lessons, pinterest inspiration, local stories, galleries and museums and neighbours to supplement his curriculum. He has also joined a prestigious children’s choir in the city ( a big commitment!) and takes guitar and riding lessons at the moment.

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Waldorf-Inspired Early Autumn Homeschool Summary for Grades One and Two

  • Before breakfast (and before school begins) the older children are expected to go outside with their Dad to do the “Farm Chores”. Right now these include filling water tubs with fresh water, mucking out the stalls and chicken coop and leading the goats to pasture. The younger children come out later to feed the chickens and collect eggs.
  • We start the school day with individual grade verses, A Good Morning Handshake and a ‘circle’ that gets us into our bodies through skipping, swinging and singing as well as skip counting forwards and backwards. We borrow some Charlotte Mason concepts including a “Poem of the Week” which we recite together at this time.
  • We sing a few French songs and poems or read a french book to begin introducing French vocabulary.
  • Both children have started Form Drawing in their Main Lesson Books (as well as on a chalkboard, on the sidewalk and in the dirt)- reviewing concepts from previous years or starting from scratch.
  • My Third Grader has started a daily Weather Journal- writing down observations and drawing things as he likes to start.
  • My First Grader is colouring in a leaf from a Weather Tree each day while we chat about what the weather is like outside.
  • My Third Grader is working on Building a Practical Project- right now it is a milking stand for our soon-to-come goats.
  • My First Grader is listening to a few stories from Grimms Fairytales at both rest time and for her Form Drawing Lessons.
  • Both children are connecting hearts with hands through painting, modelling, cutting flowers and dying wool and String Games.
  • My third grader does a small amount of math each day- reviewing concepts from previous years. He is now using a large Lyra Pencil for this work.
  • Fridays are reserved for errands, excursions or outdoor activities. This month we plan to visit Pioneer Village (to learn about wool carding, spinning and knitting), visit a local Apiarist (beekeeper) as well as a local Apple Orchard.
  • We are currently reading aloud Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder as well as The Dragon Boy Series (to compliment Michaelmas).
  • My third grader is devouring chapter books at the moment. I am having trouble keeping up with him! He has read almost every Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, E.Nesbitt, Laura Ingall’s Wilder and Glenda Millard book there is. He’s on to the Harry Potter series which I am hesitant about (because of his age). Any chapter book series recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!

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I encourage you to take a look at your Family Values and to create rhythms and routines that are unique to your tribe. I share here only to inspire and help you to forge your own family path.

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.ca. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. Thank you for your support.