Free the child's potential,
and you will transform him
into the world.
- Dr. Maria Montressori
- Dr. Maria Montressori
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, who spent many years scientifically observing children. In 1896, she became the first woman physician in Italy, and for the next five years she worked in family practice and with children who were in some way mentally or physically disabled. In 1902, she gave up her practice and began to study philosophy, psychology, and education. In 1907, at the age of thirty-six, she opened Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), a school for working-class children in one of the worst slums in Rome. Her first classroom held sixty children, ages three to six. Her only assistant was an eighteen-year-old girl.
Some of the greatest contributions to early childhood education came from this classroom. They include the creation of child-sized furniture, commissioned by Dr. Montessori but designed and built by the father of her eighteen-year-old assistant; and her groundbreaking curriculum, which allows children to work at their own pace, with no set academic requirements and no grades.
Montessori believed that children (birth–6 years) learn through absorption. She called this stage “the absorbent mind”. This was a time in a child’s life where the joy of learning is evident and effortless than any other developmental stage of life. Through natural curiosity, the child absorbs and assimilates information with his or her five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—to construct his or her own conclusions.
The Montessori method of education offers children age 3 through 6 a unique opportunity to learn effortlessly and efficiently, and it is filled with opportunities for self discovery through guided hands-on experiences. The Montessori teacher is the child’s dynamic link to the beautifully equipped environment that continually evolves to keep up with the child’s thirst for knowledge. Her environment will provide a peaceful, orderly, caring, and learning framework to support the advancement of the child’s mastery of life skills: cognitively, socially, and emotionally. All at this pivotal important period of a child’s development age 3 through 6.
In 1972, Meighen and Robert Tideman founded Westlake Montessori School. In 1980, the founders moved the school to San Francisco and renamed it Big City Montessori School (BCMS). This was the year that the current director, their daughter Amanda Riccetti, began her work in Montessori education. Beginning with after school care, becoming a Montessori teacher, then taking over as Director in 1999, Amanda has devoted her life educating young children and has touched every role within the school. This foundation has enabled her to hire loving, devoted and ultimately long-tenured staff who are highly trained AMI Montessori teachers, and who are integral to the emotional security of each child in her school. Amanda is actively involved in her program and works side by side with her teachers during the early morning program and the evening program and she still goes into the Montessori classes and works with the children from time to time.
Amanda remains a strong supporter of enrolled students, and she still personally conducts orientation tours and welcomes each new student personally. During Amanda's years with the school, many parents have sought her guidance and support while raising their children. This has inspired her to write a series of quality children's books to provide a charter for parents and a model for their children while they read the books together.
The series, “Learning with Max,” is a five-part collection of beautifully illustrated books that provide valuable lifelong lessons for children entering preschool. Each book in the series follows Max as he explores various preschool scenarios—the first day of preschool, potty training, making friends, learning social skills—and models the correct behaviors for the young readers. The “Learning with Max” series isn’t just for children! Each book contains valuable tips to guide parents along the journey and create consistent parenting among the school community.
The “Learning with Max” series is available for purchase on Amazon and consists of these five titles: “Max's First Day of Preschool,” “Max Learns to Make Good Choices,” “Modeling Social Skills,” “Potty Training with Max,” and “Max is Helpful.” Each family that enrolls as a gift receives “Max's First Day of Preschool”.
Amanda is currently working on a new series of books titled “Reading with Miss Peach” which focus on phonemic awareness and letter sound recognition. After three long years of working on this series, she hopes to have it published in Fall 2017. As both a Montessori teacher and a mother of two children with learning differences, Amanda has personally witnessed the struggle that children may have with learning to read. Her goal for the “Reading with Miss Peach” series is to make learning to read a fun, confidence-building, and educational experience for all children.