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Spotlight on Jennie Monness

We are so excited to introduce you to Jennie Monness, founder of  upcoming community space Mo' Mommies and new mama to Tess. I was lucky enough to meet with Jennie a few weeks ago and immediately connected to her mission of creating an intentional and supportive space, both in person and online, for expecting moms, new moms and young children. A former teacher and educational director, Jennie is committed to supporting moms through their parenting journey while honoring the unique developmental path of every child. Read on to learn more about Jennie, Mo' Mommies and the RIE® philosophy, which informs her parenting approach.                                                                                                                        
Q: What is Mo' Mommies?

Put simply, a safe haven. Its a place, virtually and in person, where moms can come together with their children.

Mo' Mommies is an online resource on everything from fertility, to pregnancy, to becoming and being a mom. It’s about connecting with other moms, since none of us know all the answers, and figuring it out together.

Mo' Mommies  will also be a play space, studio space, meeting place where there will be parent workshops, parent infant toddler classes, support group gatherings and playdates in a safe, clean, stimulating and enriching environment.

Q: Tell us a little bit about you and what inspired you to create this community.

I decided to create Mo' Mommies out of the love I have for not only infants and toddlers but for the mothers who bring them into this world. I originally had only planned to find a way to share my knowledge, love and experience of working with young children through Mommy and Me classes, until I had a difficult journey getting pregnant with a child of my own. During my own fertility journey, I began thinking about how I could take my professional and personal experience to help other mom’s out there in an all encompassing way which is how Mo’ Mommies was born.

I studied Psychology in Education and received my Master’s Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University before becoming an early childhood teacher for several years. After teaching I became an Educational Director for 6 years and eventually a Center Director of Early Learning Centers. Throughout my career I learned about several different approaches to early childhood. About two years ago, I completed the Foundations to RIE® course which was an eye opening experience about respectful parenting and caring for infants and toddlers. Magda Gerber’s RIE® Educaring philosophy inspires much of my work and approach to parenting. 

Q: What is RIE®?

The RIE® approach was founded in 1978 in Los Angeles by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber. RIE® stands for Resources for Infant Educators “which honors infants and young children as equal members in relationships….When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover, manifest and inspire the best in themselves and in others.”

The approach helps us to observe and get to know our babies as people, respecting them as people and treating them as such from the day they are born. Put simply, it is an authentic way of being with our children learned through becoming more aware of who they really are.This approach to parenting also makes us more aware of who we are as parents. Through really observing and taking a step back, we are able to recognize what we project and think vs. what is really happening. It helps us to take a moment before making conclusions.

 Q: What do Mo’ Mommies Art of Awareness classes look like?

Parents and children come together in a safe, peaceful and child friendly environment set up with thoughtfully chosen play objects and equipment. During each session, parents begin with a “warm in” period followed by time to quietly observe while their children interact, explore, and play. After observing, Jennie will lead an open discussion where adults share their thoughts and talk about how to encourage your child’s natural abilities and self-initiation through free play. Parents will learn about respectful care and thoughtful intervention.

We begin the classes with a short check-in time and then turn our attention to the babies as we observe their uninterrupted play and exploration, which can happen independently of one other or through interactions together. During that period, we spend time in quiet observation of the children at which time, I will demonstrate how to intervene when necessary and will ensure all of the children are getting support when faced with a challenge. Observation is an opportunity to see your baby and who they are in the moment, what they are doing and how they interact with others. Parents can trust that a facilitator will be monitoring.

After a few classes, once the children are more comfortable, and depending on the age we will introduce snack time, which is a time to incorporate structure, limits, and guidelines for your children in a respectful and enjoyable way. We then have an opportunity to discuss what we saw as well as the application of the approach at home (and anything else on parent’s minds)

The point is to allow children to discover the play objects on their own, and we want to try our best to refrain from showing or engaging them with the play objects ourselves. The main purpose is for me to help guide you on how to be with your child authentically and to provide an enriching class where your children can feel safe to learn and socialize.

About the Author

Jennie Monness is the founder and creator of upcoming community space, Mo’ Mommies, a membership studio that will bring mommies and their babies together in a thoughtful, intimate, collaborative setting. For now, while Jennie prepares for and has her own first child, it exists as a personal blog and online resource for moms and moms to be!

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