Leanna, mother of a two and a half year old, shares her family’s experience using the Radiant Hearts program.
When we started using the Radiant Hearts program in my family I wasn’t sure how much of the ideas were sinking into my son’s consciousness. I tried to keep my expectations low – after all, he is just a two year old, having fun with songs and construction paper, right?
Yet as time has gone on, I’ve noticed that he has become comfortable with the vocabulary of the program and can easily use the language of virtues in our daily routines. He knows what it means to use a “gentle” voice or to have “courage” before going to the doctor. Just the other day, when I reminded him that we would have to wait a while for something to happen (his birthday!), he nodded and said, “Patience.” All these concepts are still developing, of course, but I am constantly impressed by how much of the lessons he has absorbed and how they have given us tools to discuss appropriate behavior.
If you are not familiar with Radiant Hearts, it is a program for spiritual development designed for little ones, from babies to preschoolers. Which means that it gives parents tools to explain spiritual concepts in terms that kids can understand. What does friendliness mean, for example? Sharing your toys, saying hello, smiling, helping someone.
Every 19 days (each Baha’i month) there is a new lesson, based around a spiritual quality, such as friendliness or courage. An overview is provided for parents, along with quotations for reflection and short prayers to teach the kiddos which are set to music.
So the program doesn’t just help with learning about spiritual qualities. It also helps parents and children create a prayer routine that everyone can enjoy, something we had struggled with for some time.
It was easier to say prayers together when my son was a baby. I simply sang prayers as I rocked him and let the words and melody do their magic on his young soul. These were sweet, peaceful moments. But now, as a toddler, my little boy has too much energy to sit still for prayer time. There are trains to crash and hills to climb!
This wonderful natural energy is channeled, rather than stifled, in the Radiant Hearts program. We can sing and move to the prayers instead of just sitting and reading, and his little hands love working on the craft activities. Prayer time is now more tangible and therefore interesting to my son.
The program also provides lots of fun virtues swag (aka printables) for your little ones, like beautiful, simple pictures to illustrate prayers and pages to make their very own virtues book. These colorful, interactive creations keep my son’s attention much more than looking at a prayer book together, no matter how beautiful.
What’s really great about the program is that it is so adaptable. If you are particularly crafty, you can take the program’s ideas and run with them, elaborating to your heart’s content. But even if you are a crafting newbie like me, you can still make something truly special based on the program’s suggestions. My son loves the prayer “books” I’ve created for him and especially the treasure chest we decorated to store them.
The program can also be adapted for the age and temperament of your child. For the littlest ones, you may simply read or sing the prayers and quotations to them, while older preschoolers will enjoy the creative activities that are offered (one for each day of the month).
At the end of each month, we make a new leaf for our family virtues tree, decorated with the virtue we have been studying. (For another example of a Virtues Tree, see this post from the wonderfully creative Mud Spice blog). The Virtues Tree is a great visual reminder of what we have been doing, plus it gives my little guy a sense of accomplishment. He loves this tree!
So, in a nutshell, my toddler and I are in love with the Radiant Hearts program. Spiritual qualities and the Word of God taught within a joyful, loving environment! Thank you, Radiant Hearts!