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With Stars in Their Eyes

Brain Science and Your Child’s Journey toward the Self

January 2019
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    7th January 2019
  • ISBN 9781621482260
  • Pages 276 pp.
  • Size 7.5" x 9"

In this book readers will find not only a heart-filled rendering of the gentle ways young children have been traditionally raised and educated, but also cutting edge research that supports these practices. With love as the foundation, and through the neural tapestry created by joyful movement, music, art, stories, and play, we feed and bathe the brain of the young child. These deep connections with life are woven together during childhood to become the wholeness we call “I.”

Each chapter offers ideas for bringing this new science and these time-honored ways into the home and classroom. Parents, educators, and everyone who has ever loved and cared for a child will find research, humor, wisdom, and a new paradigm that marries ageless wisdom with the new science of the human brain and heart.

“Sharifa has a unique ability to present scientific research about child development, warmed by her rich experiences working with young children over several decades. This combination has helped her develop rich insights about what allows us to become fully human.”

—Joan Almon, Director of Programs, Alliance for Childhood

“This book beautifully and sensitively opens up a new and fresh look at how brain science can guide our parenting decisions, both now and into the future. Many have tried and very few have succeeded like Sharifa does to give us a road map of child development that is scientifically sound and yet honors the whole child.”

—Kim John Payne, MEd, author, Simplicity Parenting and The Soul of Discipline

“Friends, Parents, Educators, read this inspiring book. Sharifa’s research offers a rare and compelling marriage of the science of facts and figures and the science of the heart. It is like a new breed of artistic textbook that opens our consciousness to the wonder of neuroscience and the connection of awakening to one’s self. If you are already a fan of Sharifa’s work, you know you are in for a treat. Not only will you learn at a deeper level how children assimilate the world, you will also enjoy Sharifa’s anecdotal stories and suggestions for how to support their growth and development through simple, yet meaningful experiences in nature, art, play, and daily life. Enjoy!”

—Cynthia Aldinger, author, Life Is the Curriculum, and founder of LifeWays North America

“Sharifa’s book is an uncommon meld of the science behind child development and the esoteric. She brings forward valuable current research and applies it directly to ways of being with children in an honoring and deeply loving way that empowers their growth as resilient, coherent and empathetic human beings.”

—Carla Hannaford, PhD, biologist, international educational consultant, author of Smart Moves and Playing in the Unified Field

“In this pivotal new book, Sharifa opens for parents a clear window into the foundational neuroscience of child development. This research marries the science of human connection to the science of human development. Sharifa gives parents simple heart-based meditations that can be done with young children in tow, to ground and steady themselves as parents. She also offers fun and creative ways to bring the science home, in the kitchen, at bedtime, and throughout the day. I wish that as a young parent I’d had her book as a resource!”

—Susanna Williams, PhD, Associate Director, University of Virginia Mindfulness Center

“Sharifa Oppenheimer has created another masterpiece for parents of young children with her new book, With Stars in Their Eyes: Brain Science and Your Child’s Journey toward the Self. Her chapters are beautifully written and integrate a traditional, natural approach to parenting with the science of the nervous system and developing brain. Oppenheimer crafts her message in layers—combining research, stories and “how-to,” she addresses the importance of relationship with humans, the natural world and spirit. These are well nested in Waldorf traditions.”

—Kate White, MA, BCMBT, RCST, Director of the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health

“This is a timely, must-read book for parents and teachers of young children. Oppenheimer beautifully captures resources, strategies, and tools which point toward a whole-child education. How can we cultivate a healthy mind–body connection, perseverance, resilience, and creativity within young learners in our increasingly fast-paced society? This question is explored with the intention to reflect and nourish our human connection and, above all, to be with children in love.”

—Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director, Global Oneness Project

C O N T E N T S:

How to Use This Book


Introduction: The Science of Connection
1. Gentle Ways and Hard Science for the Early Years
2. The Love Connection
3. The Nature Connection
4. The Spiritual Connection


Introduction: The Science of Childhood
5. Exploring Self and the World through the Senses
6. Making Sense of Self and the World through Movement
7. Art and Stories: Tools to Imagine the Self
8. Creative Play: The Art and Practice of Becoming Oneself

Color Images

Sharifa Oppenheimer

Sharifa Oppenheimer was the founding teacher of the Charlottesville Waldorf School, Virginia, where she taught kindergarten for twenty-one years and served as day care director of the early-childhood program. She has helped develop new teachers through teacher-training programs at Sunbridge College in New York State, and at Rudolf Steiner College near Sacramento as a master teacher offering practicum and internship opportunities. She has written many articles on Waldorf education, helping the parents of her students create supportive home environments. Recently she initiated a home-based kindergarten program, The Rose Garden. Sharifa is the mother of three grown sons, who received Waldorf educations. She lives in an enchanted forest in Virginia.