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Britny's Nido Class

Welcome to the Nido North classroom new school year. I look forward to sharing with you the many wonderful things we do in our classroom. Please check here often for updates, pictures, and links to information.

Thank you!

"We see the figure of the child who stands before us with his arms held open, beckoning humanity to follow." ~Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

Britny Tollstam

Britny Tollstam, Nido Guide
Emily Walton, Classroom Support
Jennifer Patanella, Classroom Support
Grace Bishop-Schaub, Classroom Support

Room Parents

Matt and Lauren Cook

Back to School Parent Letter

Classroom Highlights

Happy Thursday!

Every couple of years I like to resurrect this old highlight. However, this year, I have had to wait a bit a longer to send it out. Spring has certainly taken it’s time to get rolling. I don’t think the lilacs are anywhere near ready, but the anticipation is palpable! We are looking forward to the full burst of SPRING! 

Please start to pay close attention to the Compass as the end of our school year gets closer. There are several events on the calendar you might not want to miss.


 Sweet, sweaty faces covered in sunblock, with sand stuck to it

The random onset of singing well-loved songs from throughout the year

Walks in the garden or labyrinth

Gathering cuttings of lilacs

The look of concentration on a child’s face who has finally mastered a challenge

Saying very little and watching so much get accomplished anyway

New words spoken by the smallest children

Big work and big messes

Friendships blossoming

Getting tackled by a hug

Long-awaited potty time success

Quietly reading in a sun-drenched spot, with a child

Moments of rare silence



The Bright Futures Fund Celebration was a smashing good time! Whether you were able to attend, or contributed in any other way, many thanks for your participation. Our classroom project was scored by the Kroll family. Their winning bid took home a huge canvas that our Nido children painted over the last month. I used painters tape to create lines, giving the piece some sort of aesthetic. Each child was assigned their own color and they were given complete freedom to “make a mess” all over the canvas. This also resulted in me having to give 9 baths, but it was so worth it! I’ll include an attachment in this email of our little artists.

Last week I was able to drop a significant sized donation to Generations Ahead. They were so very grateful to our Nido families who gave so thoughtfully. See the link for a public shout out. Generations Ahead has lots to celebrate... (mailchi.mp)

On Tuesday we were reunited with some goldfish that used to live at TCH. Sally Flowers, now a freshman in high school, asked if we could rehome the fish she brought home in elementary school; they had outgrown her tank. The babies have enjoyed watching our new classroom pets!


We’re getting dreamy about spring in the Nido lately. We are finally able to get outside regularly! Please continue to send weather-appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes. When the weather is not so great we go for walks around the building, we drop in on other classrooms, and we play in the gym, and I rotate the classroom materials a little more often. We stay plenty busy!

We’ve also been reading a lot of books. I was recently asked about choosing quality books for children and here is our way of making selections- for infants, I first look for content that reflects real life. I avoid all books that have animals dressed in human clothing or driving cars for instance. In Montessori, we show children what is concrete first and later introduce abstraction. Photos of real objects are a great choice or book art that mimics our authentic world. Also, we do not introduce letters right away so I don’t choose a book for its words usually, but sometimes I can find ones that have a good cadence and the words sound nice together. I tend to talk about what we see on a page more than the actual story, most of the time. Rhyming and poetry books are fun too. Books that highlight other cultures or far away places are also in my book rotation. Now, with that said, I have been known to throw in a classic children’s book just for fun and it may not fit any of those parameters, because who doesn’t love to revisit one from their own childhood too!

Have a great rest of the week!


I was giddy with anticipation on Tuesday morning. I could not wait to be reunited with your children, on my first day back, after my vacation. 

At this point in the year we have spent so many hours together that it seems strange to go any longer than a weekend without seeing them. I truly missed them and my awesome assistants too! I was even having dreams of them while I was away. 

I was blown away by the developments each one of them had taken. I walked into a whole new environment! We added a new walker, two more crawlers, lots of rollers, more hair (also less hair- with first haircuts!), bigger appetites, and a whole new level of activity! 

I am eager to have more conversations with you, the parents, about all the things occurring for your children. I do hope that we can plan some conversations soon. My office hours are still in place for you!


We have so many new faces joining us for meals lately. I’d like to share how that is going and how we approach mealtime, using the Montessori method. We largely follow the principles of baby-led weaning. 

A child first begins to join us at the table the moment they can sit up. In the beginning they might just observe, or we give them a teether to explore as they watch the mealtime. We introduce them to the language of being at the table. We pronounce words like “more”, “all done”, “thank you”, very clearly. Often we add the sign language that goes along with those words too.

When the child begins to show an interest in trying the food, or drinking from the cup, I will usually have a conversation with the parents to affirm that we can start to offer these things. We offer the new foods more for the experience and flavor, as well utensil use, rather than expecting them to devour a whole meal. Many infants, at this stage, still need their bottles for most of their nutrition.

Baby-led weaning has children trying larger chunks of food before smaller ones. This follows the development of the hand - first a grasp with a fist, and later the use of fingertips to pick up food. Bananas and avocados are wonderful choices to begin with, they can be made into any shape the child requires at the time.

Before long we increase the experience with more textures, flavors, fluids, and amounts. When they seem to have a good grasp (literally with their hands too) on eating solids we are happy to include them in our family-style school lunch. All of this happens at their pace and preference. And then they quickly become the role models for the next round of babies to join us at the table.

In our classroom, mealtime is one of our best ways to enhance the Montessori experience for your children. At home, I would encourage you to include even the youngest babies at your meals too, let them be at the table with you and watch you eat.

This is my cousin and her 4-month-old baby. The video went viral. The caption read, “The pediatrician said we could try food when she showed signs of interest, does this count?”


Happy eats!! Enjoy the rest of the week!


SPECIAL REMINDER : There is a Nido/YCC carline at 2:30 for those families that will not be attending the all school sing along on Friday. Your children must be picked up prior to the event. TCH will close immediately following the sing along, which starts at 3:00.

When I sit down to write these highlights I don’t always know what might come to mind for me to share. Weirdly, this line from an old Sandra Bullock movie, Hope Floats, keeps percolating in my brain. I feel compelled to share it with you now, as some of you may be facing some challenging relatives soon (wink).

Relatives are trouble, I couldn't agree more. Did I ever tell you about Walter, my brother? No? Well, what you have to go through with your mama, the suffering, that's what I had to suffer with Walter. One day we were playing, out back, down by the river and we came across the most beautiful ant hill you ever saw. And then Walter, he immediately kicked it, and stomped on it-just scattered it to the four winds. I just started howling, you know, I was just- I yelled for my mama, I ran up and I grabbed her and I dragged her down there just crying and carrying on. Anyway, my mama was trying to calm me down so she said 'Wait, wait, they're not finished, not by a long shot.' And, we waited and waited, and sure enough, those little black specks just started scurrying every which way, just working hard to build their home back. And I said 'Why do they do it? I'd just give up. I mean, it's hopeless!' And my mama said 'Yeah, you know, if there's just one of ya. But there's lots of ants down there. And they're all relatives. They're family, just like we are.' You know? That's what families are for. That's why they invented families: so hopeless didn't get the last word. So, listen, if ants can do it, I figure we can do it.

I often think of the people of TCH as an extension of my family. Now, I don’t harbour any ill feelings as the quote above would suggest, but I do see us scrambling to help one another in times of need. Whether it is a note of appreciation, a lovely gift, or a simple smile, each one of you has done something wonderful to lift us up this year. From all of us Nido teachers we thank you, and we wish the best for you and your families in the coming year. 




Thank you to those who kindly brought items to donate to the teen parent baby pantry - keep them coming. I deliver to them all throughout the year. 

Last Tuesday we all sat down for a lovely harvest feast. The Nido staff each brought a dish, and we had a few items brought in from our families too! Yum!

This week we say farewell to Linden C. as he makes his transition into the YCC. He is so ready to engage in new challenges and meet new friends! After the new year we will welcome Maeve and Emmey into the Nido; we’re excited to meet them.

And today we give a big happy birthday to our dear Arthur! We all sang happy birthday at group this morning and gave him lots of extra hugs today. 

With Covid numbers on the rise in our area, we are being extra diligent about keeping everyone safe. We will not be co-mingling with other groups until it seems reasonable again. 

We have started to sing a few holiday songs at group now. I would love to hear from you if your family has any favorites, or if you celebrate in a way that we might not be aware of. We wish to make this season about every person in our community.

All my best to you for a great weekend ahead.


Last week TCH held parent teacher conferences. I wanted to remind you of how I do conferences in the Nido. As I said at the parent orientation, you are welcome to schedule a conference with me at any time, by request. I will encourage you to meet with me specifically when your child is about to transition to solid foods, and then again when your child is getting ready to move to the YCC. I find that these two instances present the most questions from parents. Some of you will have a lot of questions and some of you won’t, so it doesn't really matter to me if we have an informal conversation or a more structured one, as long as we have the conversation. 

Hopefully, you all had time to read Lauren Cook’s email, thank you Lauren!

Horizon book day is an important event for the Nido. We are usually gifted enough books that I do not have to dip into my classroom budget to buy them myself- which means I have more funds available for new materials instead. This year I have an online wishlist and the usual basket of books that I have selected is waiting at Horizon Books. We would be so grateful should you choose to participate in this fun event!

As all babies do, they grow. They eventually grow so big that we can’t really call them babies anymore. And we must prepare them to seek a more challenging environment. Lucy is one such babe. This is our final week with Lucy in the Nido. She is spending more and more time in Jenny’s room now. We must let this little one spread her wings. We wish her all the best.

And with every goodbye we also say hello! We welcome with joy, Lydia and Addilyn. We are excited to watch them bloom in our care. 


Lucy then…                                                                      Lucy now.


Last week we had picture day for the whole school. As you know the Nido children fully participated in this event. I am happy to report that 100% of the class did great, no tears were shed and each shot captured your children for who they really are. I love picture day. Honestly, the goofier the better, I say.

You might start to see wet/dry bags come home with your children from now on. I have purchased several of these bags to eliminate the need for plastic bags. Please kindly wash the bag, at your convenience, and return it to the Nido. Thank you for your help with the new plan.

Tomorrow we will celebrate pumpkin fun day along with the rest of the school. Each year we plan a little craft to do with your babes- yes, even the littlest ones participate too! Look out for something fun to come home with them.

Happy Halloween! I have a small request for you parents. Would you please send me a picture of your children dressed in their Halloween costumes, if you happen to have them participate? The assistants and I love to see them dressed up! I am happy to share them, in an email, with all of you as well.


Happy Thursday!

Last week every classroom was given a selection of apples. They were a gift from a TCH parent who had won them. We decided to make apple crisp with them on Wednesday. In order to make the whole process age appropriate we took our time doing each step. 

I gathered all the necessary supplies, including an apple peeler/corer/slicer unit- those things are tons of fun to use by the way! In the morning we prepped the apples and then we took a break. Later, I combined all of the dry ingredients and poured in the melted butter. Some of the older children were able to try stirring the mixture. And then we took another break. Once the whole thing was assembled and ready to bake I showed the children our finished product before it went into the oven. Once the older children woke up from their nap we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor together.

Planning something as simple as a baking project can be very tricky in the Nido, but with lots of planning ahead, and the expectation that it could take all day to accomplish, we do enjoy these special occasions. As your children get older I encourage you to include them in your daily tasks. A great place to begin is simply narrating what it is you are doing for them. Later you can let them try to help you. 



In her book, Toilet Awareness, Sarah Moudry defines toilet awareness. She says, “Toilet awareness is when a person is aware of the toilet, how to use it, the body functions that are required, and the sensations that signal when to use the toilet.”  

In our Nido we begin to lay the groundwork for toileting as soon as a child starts in our classroom. This is not to say that we have any expectation that we will have your child potty trained while they are in our care, but we rather lay the foundation for more of what’s to come. 

So, what does this look like?

Initially, we just begin with using the proper names for body parts, and we give the child an opportunity to understand some basic functions of those parts as well. We always use a very matter of fact tone with our words and we do not substitute body parts with cute names. That way when a child has to signal anyone for help in the bathroom there is no confusion over what they need. Furthermore, at no time would we say to a child, “Wow, you are stinky!” Can you imagine the shame you would feel if someone said that to you?

We also prepare our bathroom environment in a way that is inviting to the child. We have an appropriate sized potty chair, a selection of books to read, and any of our toileting accessories are within reach. There is an air of calmness and patience during toileting. 

With every diaper change there is an offer to sit, for any child that seems developmentally ready. Many children show an interest around their 1st birthday, but toileting can begin much sooner if a parent is willing to be consistent and allow for lots of clean up. We often have success with children going on the potty, once they get the hang of the idea. When a child does go, we do not make a big deal out of it, there is no big celebration or cheers and applause. We simply let them know, “you urinated/pooped on the potty, let’s get dressed and clean it up.” By doing this we honor the intrinsic reward over the extrinsic praise that encourages going for the sake of others (and then all of the guides do a little happy dance when they aren’t looking!)


Hello Nido Parents!

It was lovely to see so many of you at parent orientation last week. If there are any lingering questions please do reach out. I’ll just remind you again that I have new office hours this year; every Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 - 2:30, this is my dedicated time for communication. Just shoot me a message and I am happy to schedule time with you. 

A few of you asked about observing in the classroom. At this time we are still trying to control the numbers in our building, due to Covid, but if this is important to you we can arrange something, starting in a few weeks. We will keep these observations as appointments only, in order to control the traffic in the observation room. 

From time to time I will touch on some of the themes and methods of Montessori education in these classroom highlights. For now, I will start with order, control/coordination, concentration and independence. These aims guide me in preparing the classroom for your children. 

In early childhood children will ebb and flow into sensitive periods for order; such as putting things back where they belong, lining objects up, matching, etc. Following organized steps in our work and our routines are all ways in which we cater to your child’s need for order.

Control and coordination are supported in the Nido too.  We present work that builds the refinement of fine and gross motor skills, scaffolding one movement on top of the next, each time allowing for your child’s own body to decide when it’s the right time.

Times of concentration are highly guarded in our room as well.  We foster and protect any child who is deeply working on a task, or even concentrating as they watch someone else. Deep learning, the kind that stays with you, happens in these moments and we are there to help lessen any distractions. 

Last, is independence.  We see the child’s motto as, “Help me to do it myself,” and we provide them with an environment and instruction that empowers them to feel successful and capable.

It is always my wish that you will see our Nido as a preparation and an education for life, and not just childcare. I invite you to ask me more about the important work we do.

Mark your calendars for next Monday! I hope to see all of you for our classroom picnic on the Nido-YCC playground at 4:30. Lauren and Matt Cook will provide pizza and salad for our group. If you feel inclined to give a few dollars to offset the cost, please Venmo Lauren @laurenhites. 

Have a great rest of the week!