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Welcome to Nido North

Britny Wade


Welcome to my teacher page for the 2017-2018 school year. I look forward to sharing with you all the wonderful things we do with your children in our classroom. Please click here often for updates, pictures, and links to keep you informed.

Thank you!


“It is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child he once was.” - Maria Montessori

Britny Tollstam, Nido Guide
B.A. Family Relations, Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, MI
AMS Infant-Toddler Montessori Certification, Seton Montessori Institute, Chicago
AMS Primary Montessori Certification, Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center, Rochester, MI
The Children's House experience (2003- present):
Primary Classroom Guide
Young Children's Community Guide
Nido Guide

May 24, 2018

As I think about what to write this week my mind keeps repeating “arrivals.” As a classroom we have arrived at the near closing of a school year. Your children have arrived to a point at which they are settled and confident among us. The adults have arrived to a point of accomplishment of a year successfully done. And with a huge sigh of relief we have all finally witnessed the arrival of decent weather!

In the next couple of weeks I plan for us to coast easy, enjoy our time together, and take in as much of the outdoors as possible. It has been earned. For you, the parents, I wish for much of the same. Many of you are nearing or have arrived at full year of parenting your sweet babes and now I hope you will sit back and enjoy the ride. Put away the agendas you have for children and let them show you where they want to go. You will not be disappointed.

All my best, Britny

May 10, 2018

Many, many thanks to each one of you that contributed to and/or attended the annual gala! Your participation means so much to our community. I was told that my classroom wish list was completely purchased, wow! That means I can use my regular budget in other meaningful ways and that’s wonderful!

We are nearing the end of our school year and there are many details coming up to be aware of. On May 25 we will host Grandparent's Day, please note there is an early dismissal for all of TCH at 11:30. Make sure any grandparents or special friends are invited on this day, it’s such a lovely occasion! Also, on June 8 we will conduct our closing ceremonies before we break for the summer program. School will also close early, after the all school family picnic. See the Compass for additional details.

We are making preparations for our summer program and getting excited. We will however say goodbye to Jennifer and Leslie, they have the summer off and we will see them again in the fall. Emily and I will be here all summer with a small group and we look forward to enjoying lots of time outside, and playing with the older toddlers!

April 27, 2018

This week I was reading about communication with infants. Many of you may already be aware that in the first few years of life a child’s mind can absorb language much more easily than any other time in their life. We can effectively boost a child’s capacity for language with a rich and stimulating environment. There are many ways to work more language into you child’s day. Just as we do in Montessori, you can start by narrating and explaining the things you are doing with your child, or the things they are watching you do. A good place to start is at mealtime or during diaper changes, they are your captive audience at those times and will appreciate the interaction. Simply start by telling your child what your hands are doing, look them in the eye, and direct their attention to you. You can be very descriptive, using colors, shapes and feelings in your explanation. Speak slowly and clearly and pronounce each syllable. Let them see your mouth as you make the words. As your infant gets older engage them in reading books, point to and name the things they are seeing on the page. Feel free to pause for a long time at each page, wait for them to signal that they have taken enough information in before turning the page. Listening to music and singing with you children is another way to build their vocabulary. In what ways have you discovered language enrichment with your child? I would like to hear about it.

March 22, 2018

One of our students recently learned to pull up to standing. For a long time she would only get to her knees and stop there. So often we wanted to show her just how easy it would be to just take that extra leap and rise up. We often had to remind ourselves to just let her make that discovery on her own, as is our practice in Montessori. Can you imagine if we were to pop her up to standing each time, and "steal" from her that amazing moment of discovery and awe for what she can do on her own?! So, we watched and watched and one day, a couple weeks ago, she rose to standing. We were all able to celebrate that sweet moment, knowing how she must have felt with that new sensation of standing, the joy was unanimous. We use this approach for most of the milestones that happen in our Nido, and we see many every week, and the joy simply multiplies. These are the moments that make our work so very rewarding.  And wouldn't you know it, it took that same child a few days to figure out how to let go and sit once she had pulled up, and we were faced with the same urge to do it for her and had to sit on our hands once again..

March 8, 2018

Last week, the Nido started to receive volunteers from the school's Junior High students. Each day at 2:30, one or two students will be joining us until the end of the school year. We have been showing them how to give bottles, change diapers, and how to interact with the children. We only ask that they not walk around holding the babies. The babies have started to get used to seeing them and they really light up when the JH students enter the room. Many of these students came up through our Nido and YCC programs themselves, and I so love to see them come full circle by spending time among us again.
Have a warm and wonderful weekend!

February 15, 2018

Over the last couple of weeks we have endured lots of illness throughout the classroom. Both the children and the staff have battled fevers, coughing, sinus trouble, and more. But, this week I think we have rounded the corner to wellness. We always do our very best to sanitize, and wash hands, and we thank you, the parents, for doing your part to help too. I know it's not easy to take time off, for many of you, to stay home with sick children but we appreciate your efforts.

We have recently welcomed baby James into classroom and are preparing Eleanor and Escher for their big transitions to the YCC. I often wish I had more time with the infants, much like the other levels that have a three year cycle of children. However, I consider myself truly lucky to be witness to the first year of life. I am constantly in awe of the babes who arrive to me in arms and in such a short time scoot off my lap and take off running, it brings such joy with each passing milestone.

We have been able to venture outdoors with a few children at a time now, thanks to the rising temps! Please continue to pack all outdoor gear. Thank you!

February 1, 2018

Last week we held a community education night on the topic of self-discipline. Marie and Agnes, from the YCC, and I gathered with several parents to discuss what self-discipline looks like in the Montessori environment. We also covered different strategies for helping your children at home. Providing structure and rules for our children allows them to feel safe in their space and helps them to become aware of the boundaries and expectations of their homes, schools, and society too. Children who are confident in their routine and are provided consistent care are better able to relax in their environments and focus on the tasks at hand, making them better learners. On the other hand, when children are given choices and have certain freedoms to conduct the work that they are capable of on their own, we are honoring their independence and self-discipline. The child's confidence can flourish this way. As parents and caregivers we must strike the balance of freedom within limits.
For more information on this topic I recommend you look at this informative website.

January 18, 2018

Cheers to 2018!

I am so delighted to be back at school! The winter break was nice (and freezing) but I am always ready to come back and get on a routine again. The infants looked taller, and grew more hair, and had some new language, and I was happy to be with them again. We also welcomed two new new students, baby Brooks, and one-year-old Gunner. Beatrice has transitioned to the YCC and we wish her all the best. So, with the new year comes new faces and good-byes and the cycle continues on as it should be.

Just before our break I ordered some fresh new materials for our classroom. The children are really enjoying our new spinning top, pull-toy, blocks, baby doll (great for naming parts of the body), and rattles. Our lunch menu has also changed a bit and the children are being exposed to some old favorites with a new twist. With a little encouragement they are trying most foods and liking the flavors. The gym continues to be a great excursion for the older babies, where they can mingle with the YCC students and practice some gross motor activities. We are still crossing our fingers for the chance to get outside more often.

You many notice my name change soon as well. I am returning to my maiden name, Britny Tollstam.

Thanks for all your support and have a great weekend!

December 19, 2017

I wish for you a wonderful winter break. Take some extra time to snuggle your sweet babes and I'll do the same with my two. May you ring in the new year surrounded by loved ones and with joy in plenty. We bid farewell to our Olivia as we send her off to the YCC upon our return, she will be dearly missed but we're excited for her in all her new experiences.
All my best to each of you!

December 7, 2017

Two weeks ago, our class all sat together around our dining table to share a wonderful harvest feast. The day before our feast, our oldest children were invited to join Jenny's toddler class in the process of making applesauce. Several children were able to crank the handle of the apple peeler-corer-slicer and were in awe of it's "magic." On the day of the feast we set a lovely table and gathered together. Many thanks goes to Emilia's family for bringing in two dishes to share.

Last week a few of us had the rare pleasure of watching an abbreviated performance of Tuck Everlasting, put on by the students of Interlochen Arts Academy. I never know how our infants will tolerate being an audience member, and I am often prepared to scoot out the gym door quickly if need be. The room was filled with students and adults and at first felt intimidating, but once the actors began their theatrics all the children were mesmerized. We were able to take in the whole performance, and had the chance to practice our clapping skills too! I so enjoyed taking all this in through the eyes of your children. Thank you for sharing them with us.

November 16, 2017

This week we celebrate Olivia turning one-year-old, Beatrice preceded her just a few weeks ago as well ! Our oldest student has begun her transition into the toddler program and will join them full time after Thanksgiving break. You'll be missed Emili! When we feel a child is developmentally ready for the toddler room we begin the transition process by taking short visits into their next classroom. I accompany the children the first few times and once they are comfortable in the environment they are invited to stay for longer periods on their own. We will always wait until they show us that they are ready and the move is almost always very smooth this way.

Next week, on Monday, it is school picture retake day. We will also have a harvest feast on Tuesday, just like the rest of the school. If you happen to be whipping something up for your own Thanksgiving and wish to contribute a small dish then please do. I can collect it from you at morning carline on Tuesday. We have no known allergies at this time. I wish you and your family a lovely Thanksgiving

November 2, 2017

Halloween greetings!
This week the Nido participated in the school-wide pumpkin fun day. Each child was given the opportunity to hand paint their own pumpkin or gourd. I marveled at how each one had a different reaction to having the sensation of paint on their hands. A couple of babies thought it might be tasty, others made a funny face over the texture, and some thought it was great fun to put the paint everywhere. Can you guess which was your child?

Oh the snow! I have to admit I wasn't quite ready to see that when I arrived at school on Tuesday. Time to haul out our boots, hats, and mittens. Will all of you please label and send in these items with your child each day? The cold rain has kept us in lately but the snow will allow us to get outside once again. Thank you.

October 19, 2017

In our classroom we incorporate the idea of child lead weaning, potty learning, and transitioning to one nap a day. It all starts with just the seed of an idea that, with time and practice, should grow into mastery. Allowing this to happen at your child's pace translates into virtues such as independence, self-care, and confidence. If an idea becomes too much our own agenda we risk getting into power struggles or even regression of progress. By the letting the child decide when it is the right time, we are teaching them to trust in themselves.

So, how do we do this? Of course we are always cognizant of the typical milestones and we watch for signs of readiness. With weaning from bottles for instance, children might start to become distracted at feeding time and additionally become more interested in the foods other people are eating. We know it is time for them to spend more time at the dining table, observing our habits and practicing self-feeding, rather than being offered a bottle each time. Before long they are far more interested in eating at the table and often don't even notice the bottles are becoming less and less. It's the same with potty learning. We watch for signs of readiness and offer the choice of trying to sit on a potty with each diaper change. We wait for it to be their idea and in most cases it eliminates potty time power struggles.

We took school pictures this week and everyone who participated did great! There will be a scheduled re-take day soon. Please let me know if you'll want to participate after photos are distributed.

October 5, 2017

As you know I was away last week and upon my return I was so pleased to see the infants again. It amazes me, every time I step away from the classroom, how much can change in such a short time in a baby's first year of life. I came back to witness children newly standing, pulling up, climbing stairs, trying out new words, and each of them seemed much more confident in their attempts. In fact this is precisely why the Montessori philosophy resonates with me; we provide an environment free of restraints that might otherwise stunt or delay an infant's development.

In our classroom every effort is made to allow for freedom of movement for every child. We also do our best to avoid too many disruptions to their learning. If we notice a child concentrating on something we will wait until that concentration breaks before we will interject our agenda upon them. We know that in those moments of deep concentration the real learning is happening. Next time you see your child fixed on a task or object try pausing before interrupting them, stand back and observe them instead. You just might learn something too!

September 21, 2017

With great pleasure September has granted us some great weather to enjoy. The playground has been a wonderful escape during the day. Our mobile babies are really loving the sandbox and a couple have even tried the slide! Inside the classroom we are all adjusting to new faces and routines. We are busy helping the children gain independence and freedom. The two that can walk are clearing their dishes at mealtime and all that are able drink from a cup now. We even have a few that will fall asleep independently too. If the weather should turn on us soon, please remember to pack a jacket or other necessary items for cool weather. I want all of us to enjoy the outdoors as long as possible this season.

This page last updated on 5/23/2018.

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Room Parent

Mindy Beers

Classroom Support

Jennifer Patanella

Jennifer Patanella

Emily Send

Emily Send

Leslie Lederer

Leslie Lederer


tch_icon.pngThe Children's House - An Independent Montessori School
5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org