Radiant Hearts was developed to aid families with young children to memorize Baha’i prayers and quotations of Baha’u’llah, and learn about spiritual qualities. The set-up is that each Baha’i month a family studies a new lesson which focuses on a spiritual quality. There is one prayer and one quotation per lesson, each put to music which is available on the Online Lesson. All documents required to implement the lesson are available online, as well.
I would like to share five main points I feel are helpful in implementing Radiant Hearts as a tool for assisting spiritual education in the home. I hope these points help you prioritize which parts of the program are best for you and will also help you enjoy using the program a bit more.
Tip #1: Focus on the Word of God
It’s easy to be distracted by the Pinterest-type activities of Radiant Hearts – the little crafts, the games, making a scrapbook of virtue related stories for your family. However the most important part of the program is that it can help you learn a new prayer and quotation each Baha’i month. The words of Baha’u’llah and prayers offered in the Baha’i Writings are what will affect us on a profound level and attract our souls to the spiritual reality of life. Memorizing these will be such a gift to your children plus a source of true inspiration for yourself.
The other parts of the lesson (such as the activities, songs, and stories), though helpful for prompting learning opportunities about virtues, are human made and therefore cannot even compare in the way they will affect your family life.
Therefore if you have to choose one part of Radiant Hearts to focus on, I highly recommend choosing to learn the prayers and quotations each month. Even if your child is too young to memorize them at the moment, the exposure and repetition will no doubt contribute to their spiritual growth, and will be a source of illumination for you as well.
Tip #2: Give Yourself Attention
When I first began creating Radiant Hearts and implementing it into our family’s routine, I admit I was mostly focused on my son. Teaching him manners, reminding him to be patient while he waited for me to make his lunch, adding new chores to our morning routine.
However as I worked on the lessons and really studied each virtue, I realized how much I needed to work on developing these qualities in myself. I saw how often I could really practice all the spiritual qualities and how much they started to pop into my mind every day without prompting. Saying “please” more often (even when frustrated), being patient while my son needed my help with his umpteenth lego creation, joyfully helping my husband by giving him time for more rest after an exhausting day of work.
So I re-designed the program based on full-family learning, giving each lesson a “Getting Started” page (the first page in each Basic Lesson) which is a place for the parent to reflect on how they are already practicing the virtue and how they would like to improve their practice. This page has been crucial for me bringing myself to account each month, like a little routine for myself – making sure I am working as hard on myself as I’m working on teaching my children.
I actually find the more attention I give to develop spiritual qualities in myself, the easier I can model them and speak about them with my children. So my tip is: resist the temptation of overlooking the first page of each Basic Lesson or forgetting that Radiant Hearts is for you, too. Put your own spiritual education at the top of the list – it will help in the long run to give yourself some attention, too.
Tip #3: Don’t Get Overwhelmed
I will say up front that I do not do the full Radiant Hearts program with my children. We sing the prayers and quotations every morning and evening, but that’s the only consistent part of our daily routine. We do the activities as I have time and think of them (at this point, we usually get to about half of the Daily Activities per month), and I teach a Baha’i Preschool Class on Sundays.
I’m sharing this because I want to make sure everyone knows by no means do you have to do ALL of what the Introduction explains is possible from the materials. As explained in the section in the Introduction on applying the materials to various age groups, you can do as little as singing the prayer and quotation each month, or go up to doing all the Daily Activities and offering one of the related Acts of Service.
Sometimes we all plan to do more than is reasonable, or unintended things come up in our schedule. If you wanted to do more and didn’t get to do it, don’t worry. Stressing over what does not get done is counter-productive (I know this from experience). Do what you can and feel good about your efforts. You can always add more elements of the program in a few months or over the next couple years. You do know you can use this program year after year, right?
Radiant Hearts is here to help, not to give you one more thing to do. Only use the parts that feel right for you and leave the rest. (Read our Note to the Moms for more on this subject.)
Tip #4: Stay Organized
I find that keeping my materials organized is what ensures my success over the month. Printing off the Basic Lessons is crucial to actually using it. When I know Feast is coming up in a few days, I just go ahead and print it off to get ready for the next month. Having it there on the Feast day makes sure we stay on track and start a new lesson (with new memorization) each month.
I also keep all my Basic Lessons in a binder in our lounge, so it is all easily available when I’d like to review the activities for the month or find something to do on any given day (sometimes we look up activities from previous lessons when we need some special attention on a different spiritual quality). We also have a hanging chalk board in our lounge where we write up the spiritual quality we’re learning so everyone in the family can keep it in mind, and a place where we hang our crafts for the month, too. If my husband and I are not already familiar with the quotation and prayer for the month, we print the words out from the Lesson Posters and hang it on our son’s door so we can refer to it during morning and evening prayers. After displaying them for the month, we keep all our crafts in our Spiritual Treasure Box or Radiant Hearts book so we can look back and see some of what we’ve learned.
Basically having our Radiant Hearts materials available and accessible when we need them is what keeps me organized.
Tip #5: Share the Journey with Others
Extending your family’s spiritual learning beyond your own doors is a personal learning experience, as well as an opportunity for teaching. There are so many ways you can do this, too. Whether it’s simply mentioning the quotation you have been memorizing to a friend and sharing how it’s affected your interactions with your family members, explaining the Daily Activity your child is engaging in to a neighbor passing by, or hosting a Devotional, Playgroup, or Preschool Class, the inspiration you receive from sharing spiritual conversations with others can be deeply fulfilling.
Even though our family does not send the Monthly Letters on a regular basis, when we do it is always a lovely experience for the children to share what they have been learning with someone they care about and respect (usually via Skype with the grandparents). It presents a positive topic for conversation as well as the space to learn and share something dear to everyone’s heart.
Having our Preschool Class is the icing on the cake to my family’s virtue learning, because it allows my son to share his experience with other children and also engage in the important work of community building through spiritual education. It also encourages me because I get inspiration and encouragement from the other parents, as well as all the beautiful children.
It takes a lot of energy and effort, but is well worth it.
I hope these five points will prove useful to you as you use Radiant Hearts in your home. Please share in the comments your own suggestions and insights about using the program, and what makes it work for you.
This post was written by Chelsea when her two children were ages 18 months and 48 months.