History of Our School

The Beginning

Montecito’s Founders, Molly and Jim Matthews, had a passion for teaching and a deep affection for young children and dreamed of educating children in a safe, warm and natural environment. When they discovered the Grant Road property in Los Altos, they envisioned the idyllic setting would become a school for early childhood learning -- two acres in Los Altos, charming buildings with sprawling 200-year-old oak trees. In 1960 Montecito Preschool opened its doors. The campus quickly became home to animals and gardens, as the Matthews understood the importance of the human/animal/environment bond.

The Matthews formed teams of early childhood experts and nurturing teachers. They pioneered a “play-based curriculum.” Self-directed play experiences were designed that encouraged children to develop their imaginative minds, to problem solve, and to learn through discovery in the rich environment created around them.


Now, over 50 years have passed. When one walks through the gates they are transported into a natural wonderland, alive with the sounds of cooing doves and happy children. As the second generation, the Matthews’ daughters Erin Mobley and Megan Matthews have dedicated their careers to continuing Montecito’s legacy. Through ongoing study of current Child Development research and Education curriculum, they are ensuring that the learning environment and experiences at Montecito continue to meet the founders’ original vision: “Providing a play-based curriculum in a rich natural environment.”