“Help me to do it by myself” is the slogan of JJB, and we can see this Montessori Education’s core principle everywhere in JJB.
At JJB Somerset Centre, we interviewed Ms. Leticia, headmaster of JJB, an elegant lady who is fully devoted to children education. Welcoming children under 4 years old, Leticia’s JJB has developed its own teaching theory and unique course system. By building an environment of ‘No parents around, three hours’ working time and different teacher-student relationship, she has successfully made this place a community of harmony, well being and work.
1. When was JJB first established in Guangzhou? And Why did JJB choose Guangzhou?
Ms. Leticia: Our first center was opened 3 years ago. And we also have the second center which opened in Baiyun district on 2016.
Guangzhou is a city that is actually growing a lot and we can see visually that the city is really changing. People want to change. Even the local families are more interested now in early child education. Compared to other major cities, we are a little delayed by a couple of years in early child education. That’s why we wanted to start something new, especially with early education.
Guangzhou is changing and we can be a part of this growth. It’s very possible that we will expand to Shenzhen in the coming years, because Shenzhen has a huge potential as well. But before I expand, I always first ensure quality because we don’t want to become ‘quantity’ at the expense of quality. I have to make sure that I train all my teachers very well even as we expand, but for sure, this is a long vision term.
2. What is so special about JJB? Can you tell us more about JJB’s faculties and facilities?
Ms. Leticia: First of all, we are very new in what we can offer to the parents who have very young children. You can drop your child and leave. Usually, you stay with the children, or it is not really like an educational center. It is different kind of daycare. I think what is really different is the learning environment, which I designed myself and I make sure that it is appropriate for children and parents. When people come in, I hope they feel that it is nice and peaceful and that they want to be here.
One of the most important things that is so special is the people and the teachers here. I train all the teachers here and we really make sure that every single child is able to reach a certain stage of development. We care for every single child and also for the parents. We would work a lot with every single family. When the parents come here, they will feel special and they will feel that we care for them. I think that this is something we do for our parents in JJB families, which means they feel that we really try our best to make sure that they can also help the children at home too. This is something new. It is something that I really wanted to do.
We do not have the attitude, “I am the teachers, I know everything”. We emphasize sharing. There are some things you know about each other that we don’t know, and there are some things I know about each other which you may not know. So let’s see how we can do things together.
3. What are the available programs at JJB?
Ms. Leticia: So first of all, we are Montessori and it is a true Montessori environment. We use Montessori education, namely the Pedagogy, which is very different from traditional curriculum. It’s about science and it’s very precise. It is a study of observation, so our work is based on observation. We observe the children, their movement, their language and how they interact with one another and then we respond.
We have children from 3 months old to 18 months old. Kids can learn and support each other. In this way, we have the community, just like the real life. As we work, we have people older or younger than us – it is exactly the same. So this is the Montessori. We welcome the children from 3 months old to 3 years old. On Saturday, we do activities which mom and dad can enjoy. We thus help the parents to know how to really engage with the children with something constructive.
Also, we are starting to do much more sports activities, because it is important for children, even a child at a very young age has to do a lot of exercise. Some of them have a lot of energy and we don’t know what to do. We have some good sports teachers who are trained very well, so they will be very positive with children.
4. You have been involved in the education field for some years. Can you share with us your thoughts of what is important in Early Childhood Education?
Ms. Leticia: Yes, I’ve been educating children for nearly twelve years. What’s great is I have the opportunity to work in many countries, so I’ve seen different cultures. What I realize is that no matter where you go, the same things happen. What I realized during my years of teaching is that we did not focus enough on the parents. We only focus on the child, which is very right, but we forget about the parents. And sometimes, the parents don’t know what to do. After 5 years of teaching, I remember saying to one of my mentors, “You know? I want to do something with parents. I’m going to do some classes with parents. They need to learn a little bit what they can do at home.” And since I started doing that, it was amazing. When you work with the parents, they understand what you do in school and the child is brought up even happier. Education is not only for the children. You have to put the parents and the family together. So this is what I’m trying to do here in Guangzhou.
As for the children, we talk about different cultures and we celebrate different festivals. We really make sure that every single child feels comfortable with different kinds of cultures and I think it’s very important. The parents are very happy to meet different nationalities too.
5. What are the exciting plans for JJB for the coming year?
Ms. Leticia: I think what is really exciting for me and for all of us is that we are reaching more and more parents. Now I bring a lot of courses for parents. Not only here, but in big companies like P&G. They invite me to go there and give a talk to all the parents, so you don’t need to be a JJB parent to learn about Montessori or what to do for your child. You may go to one of my talks, maybe held in Guangzhou or even out of China and then you can learn more. This is very exciting for us because I can take this idea further to anyone.
Also, we work on teamwork or we work on the rule of the dad. We have different topics for different children depending on their ages. We teach how to help them in writing, how to help them to be nice at home – things like that. I also do preparation for very young babies to show what the mum can do at home when the baby is very young. We also work with pregnant moms, so we do relaxation course for the babies. We really try to reach many parents. Moreover, I will do some talks for the whole day, where we do a lot of theories and practices, like I did in P&G.
6. If to conclude the advantages and specialties of JJB using tags (for example Twitter Tags), what would they be?
Ms. Leticia: I think first of all, Montessori. And I think is Feeder school, because here we see ourselves as a feeder school. Almost 95% of our children go to the international school. For people who want to start before the international school, this is the right place if they are looking for an international community. I think it is a place with parent and child education and even education for parents. We do a lot of things for parents and then we have become a typical center for early childhood.
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