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Big City Montessori School

240 Industrial Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

(415) 648-5777


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Founded in 1972 by Meighen and Robert Tideman, Big City Montessori School is the oldest family-owned and operated preschool in San Francisco. Their vision was to create an environment where children from all walks of life could have a space outside of the home to feel comfortable and learn. Since its inception, BCMS has successfully provided a safe and nurturing environment for children, graduating over 3,000 students on to the finest schools in San Francisco.

BCMS moved to its current location in 1980. This was the year that the current director, their daughter Amanda Riccetti began her work in Montessori. Beginning with after school care, taking her turn with Montessori teaching and taking over as director in 1999, Amanda has touched every role within the school. This understanding helps her keep the tenure of her staff, which directly relates to the emotional security of each child in her care. BCMS is licensed through the Department of Social Services, Facility #380503028.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Montessori

From the Director:

We believe education is preparation for life. By fostering cooperation, respect for oneself and others, we empower our children to be confident and self motivated individuals with a lifelong enthusiasm for learning. The Sensitive Period: Sensitive periods are times in the child's life when they are driven by nature to acquire a new skill or concept. During this time learning will be easier than any other time in life. Dr. Montessori was the first educator to realize the capacity of young children to learn and to systematically examine how the young child learns best. She believed that all children have a natural desire to learn and given the opportunity will absorb everything in their culture and environment. She identified the most sensitive period for learning as that between 0 to age 6."

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Enrichment activities include: Art, Music, Dance, Spanish, Soccer

From the Director:

"Dr. Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. A child must do it himself or it will not get done. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years he spends in the classroom because he is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. Dr. Montessori felt, therefore that the goal of early childhood education should not be filled with facts from a preselected course of studies, but rather to cultivate a child's own natural desire to learn."

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"The development of personal dignity and ability in each child, no matter how young, is one of the most valuable and permanent benefits of Montessori. For the past 30 years, Big City Montessori has successfully provided a safe and nurturing environment for children. We respect the individuality of each child while allowing him/her to experience a sense of community. Our commitment is to nurture and inspire independent, caring students. Montessori students are guided to have respect for self, for others, for ideas and for their natural environment."

A Typical Day

Following is a sample schedule:

Outside Play: 8:30 to 9:30
Restroom/Hand Washing/Snack: 9:30 to 10:00
Music: 10:00 to 10:15
Group Lessons: 10:15 to 10:45
Independent Work Time: 10:45 to 11:45
Restroom/Hand Washing: 11:45 to 12:00
Lunch: 12:00 to 12:30
Outside Play: 12:30 to 1:30
Restroom/Hand Washing/Snack: 1:30 to 1:45
Independent Work Time: 1:45 to 2:45
Story Time: 2:45 to 3:45
Story Time: 2:45 to 3:00

After School Schedule:

Outside Play: 3:00 to 3:30
Restroom/Hand Washing/Snack: 3:30 to 4:00
Enriched Activity: 4:00 to 4:30
Free Play: 4:30 to 6:00


Naps are not mandatory at Big City Montessori School. Our nap time starts around noon and ends around 2:30 p.m. Most children take a nap after they eat lunch. Each child has a bed assigned to them for the entire time they nap at BCMS. We provide the bedding as well. Older children, who are growing out of a formal nap, are allowed to rest in the classroom. A child can request to take a nap if they feel they need one. We will never force a child to nap. The teachers may ask for your assistance, if your child will not nap for them.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

"A Montessori education is one that involves cooperation and communication between school and home. Harmony between the two is very important. When your child enters a Montessori classroom, your child becomes part of a Montessori family.

Here are a few tips that may help your home be a Montessori home, which fosters independence and self confidence for your child: Read to your child: Ask simple questions about the story. Ask the child to retell, pantomime the act or repeat the sequence. Play games with your child: Talk about the rules that need to be followed and listen to directions. Build an understanding of number concepts: Practice counting objects Recognize symbols (1,2,3) Understanding time: Today, tomorrow, yesterday- this is very difficult for kindergarten children. Understanding words like more and less, bigger and smaller, before and after. Develop memory: Memorize nursery rhymes and short poems. Tell a simple story. Remember correct sequence of events. Help notice details: Play games that involve picking out differences between objects which are very much alike. Use objects like buttons, money, cards, etc. 'Find the ones that are similar and dissimilar.' Learn to sort objects by characteristics: Practice sorting objects by size, color, shape, function or material. Build vocabulary: Help your child learn the names of objects in your home, in specific rooms, in closets, in drawers. Talk about words and explain what they mean. Play games that describe characteristics to which the child must supply a name: I'm thinking of a long metal object, used in the kitchen, which we use to cut food. What is it? Learn the colors: Call attention to the colors of objects. Help your child point to colors when you name them and name them when you point to them. Increase his general store of information: Talk to your child about experiences he has had; an excursion to the park, a movie you watched together, a walk. All can be an opportunity to increase his knowledge about the world he lives in. Help you child use his imagination: Encourage inventive games that involve pretending: playing house, or store or school; being an imaginary hero-all of these games help in developing your child's critical thinking skills."

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Handling Separation: From the Director

Parents are encouraged to bring their child to visit often in the weeks prior to beginning school. Visiting time is between 3:00-6:00 pm on weekdays. This allows the child to become familiar with the school environment, while their parent can be with them.

A new parent orientation is held every July to support new families transition to their and their child's first school experience.

The school also offers to link new parents with returning "buddy parents" to offer one on one support to families.