It's been a long time since I've run an interview series. Today I'm sharing the start of new series which gives us a peek into Montessori homes around the world. I hope you enjoy it! Today we start with Jae Jun in Atlanta, Georgia.
Can you introduce yourself, your family and a tells us a little about where you live?
I’m Jae Jun, and my business is Bella’s Casa – a learning community for parents as well as an Etsy store selling handmade Montessori materials for infants and young children. I created Bella’s Casa as a resource for all parents who want to create (or enhance) learning spaces and activities that will grow a engage children and instill confidence. We also offer an E-Course for parents on creating a Montessori environment in the home for ages 0-6. I also teach in a Montessori Children’s House classroom – I have my Montessori Primary Diploma, and I have taught for 13+ years. I have two daughters – Chelyn (age 10), and Emily (age 4) who attend Montessori school, and we live in Atlanta, Georgia.
What does Montessori look like in your city/town?
Here in Atlanta, we have an AMI Montessori Training Center for Primary/Children’s House and Elementary, so it’s a rich and vibrant Montessori community with lots of school options from Infant/Nido through Middle School. As with all Montessori, “Montessori” can mean anything, so one thing I consult with parents on is what to look for in a quality Montessori school as they are making their school choice for their children.
What does Montessori look like in your home?
My daughters attend a Montessori school, and our home has a very Montessori-feel to it. I have strategically prepared our home environment to promote their independence (which saves me time and energy!). One example is our Morning Routine: Chelyn & Emily wake themselves up with an alarm, come downstairs, prepare their own breakfast, head upstairs to get dressed (making their own selections for clothes which they can reach), and we head out the door…meanwhile, I prepare for my own day in the classroom and maybe even answer some client emails! Chelyn packs her own lunch the night before and unpacks it when she gets home and loads the dishwasher. All of this takes strategic set-up to ensure they have what they need and can access and operate everything independently. This set-up is a major focus on the Montessori Home Set-Up E-Course that we offer.
What are on your children’s shelves right now, what are their current interests?
Both girls have lots of books – mainly a rotating selection of library books. Beyond books, they each have various activities and materials available. Chelyn (age 10) has a rotating selection of 3 options for crafts and projects, which she independently manages the rotation of based on what she is interested in from the greater collection bin of her projects in the garage. Emily (age 4) is really into drawing and writing currently, so we have materials for drawing in different media and painting available for her to use independently. We also have a “Writing Center” complete with note cards, stickers, stamps, and envelopes.
What are you reading right now?
It’s August – the beginning of the school year for us, so this is a super-busy season for me…so I’m currently dreaming of what I will read when I have more spare time after we get through this super-busy time! This past summer, I read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. I loved her perspective on women in the work force and it inspired me to empower my daughters and help them not hold themselves back.
What are your children reading right now?
Chelyn is a voracious reader. Last week, she chose a stack of 7 thick books in a series from the library which she is devouring. She recently read the whole Wimpy Kid series and loved it. This past summer, she re-read for the FIFTH time the entire 7-book Harry Potter Series. She gets so absorbed in reading that we have an agreement that chores and piano practice must be completed before she dives into her current book! Emily enjoys a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction. At the library, Emily gets to select 3 books, and I choose additional books for her.
Do your children like to cook or bake?
YES! They love to be in the kitchen! Emily bakes in her Montessori classroom, which she really enjoys. When Chelyn started her three years of Lower Elementary, the teacher explained that, upon finishing Lower Elementary, she would be able to bake things independently; I admit, I was skeptical, but it’s true! She is a great baker and adept at following recipes. Chelyn even bakes vegan things for me.
What is your greatest or most current parenting struggle and how are you dealing with it?
I can't really say I have any "struggles" - I feel like our set-up and routines prevent most of the struggles. I am continually grateful that we have been building a foundation of routines and discipline from the very beginning with our daughters.
Thank you so much to Jae Jun for sharing her home and family with us! I think it is important to note that Jae is Montessori trained and also helps other families with parenting and setting up their home environments, she is a shining example and super organised. You can read more from Jae at Bella's Casa.
If you would like to participate in this series, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read a few of my previous interviews here.