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Participant Expectations and Guidelines

At Heartwood, it is our mission to provide outdoor play and learning environments that nourish the mind, body, and soul of all participants. It is understood by both the participant and caregivers that the Heartwood Behavior Expectations and Guidelines are essential for us to maintain a safe environment. Caregivers are required to read the following information with class participants.  


Be Kind    

  • Include friends in activities, say “yes” when someone asks to join    

  • Safe Touch Policy: ask and get consent before touching others     

  • Respect other’s projects and artwork, treat it gently, and only destroy it if given consent     

  • Respect other’s safety boundaries, if someone doesn’t feel safe, respect them when they say “no” or want to stop    

  • Consent matters - no means no     

  • Talk respectfully to yourself and others, no foul language    

  • No gun play     

  • Do not kill or harm living things    

  • Waterproof layers (raincoat and rain pants) must be worn when it is raining   


Be Safe    

  • Be always within sight and/or hearing distance of an educator     

  • Give dogs their space (no petting)     

  • Sticks used for imaginative play may be no longer than one arm's length.  Walking sticks must be shorter than one’s shoulder.  Sticks are not allowed on hikes due to the close proximity of the kids and the potential for accidents.    

  • Sticks/branches/logs used for shelter building may be longer than one arm’s length as long as one end of the stick is in contact with the ground at all times or 2 kids are working together as a team to move a heavy stick, one on each end of the stick/branch.    

  • Do not eat plants/berries/mushrooms you find unless positively identified and cleared by an educator     

  • No horseplay on the trails     

  • No screaming unless you’re hurt or need immediate help (yelling is fine, screaming means you’re hurt)   

Be Responsible  

  • Eat your own food - no sharing due to individual allergies and family food preferences    

  • Forest materials/treasures/creatures stay in the forest     

  • No digging deep holes in the grass/fields    

  • No playing in the bathrooms (with the soap, hand dryers, friends, etc.)     

  • Stay on trails when on hikes    

  • Leave toys and electronics at home   

  • No feeding the wild animals   


Touching Policy 

Physical contact is appropriate if it: 

  • Occurs during light touch tag games. 

  • Occurs when holding hands. 

  • Occurs when giving a kind and gentle hug. 

  • Occurs when helping a peer/participant if they need a hand getting up or off something.  

  • Includes safe touches (consent is required) These are touches that keep children safe and are good for them, and that make children feel cared for and important. Safe touches can include hugging, pats on the back, and an arm around the shoulder. Safe touches can also include touches that might hurt, such as cleaning a cut or removing a splinter. 

  • Consent is always required except where staff need to intervene and believe a participant may be in immediate harm. 

Physical contact is inappropriate if it:  

  • Includes touching the groin, genital area, buttocks, breasts, or any part of the body that may cause distress or embarrassment. 

  • Is non-consensual 

  • Frightens, distresses, or embarrasses other class participants. 

  • Includes unsafe touches. These are touches that hurt class participants' body or feelings (for example, hitting, pushing, pinching, and kicking).  

  • Includes unwanted touches. These are touches that might be safe but that a child does not want from that person or at that moment. It is okay for a participant to say "no" to an unwanted touch, even if it is from a familiar person.  


The Disciplinary Process for On-Going/Disruptive Behaviors 

*To ensure the quality of this program and safety of participants, everyone must follow program rules and expectations. We reserve the right to bypass one or more steps in the process if a situation warrants it.  

  • As soon as the educator becomes aware of an on-going behavior requiring attention, staff members will discuss the issue/collaborate with the participant to identify the problem and form a plan to address it. The educator will check in verbally with the families after class to make all involved aware of the problem and the plan, will ask the caregiver for ideas and input and will ask families to help support behavior goals at home.  

  • After the initial conversation with the class participant and family, if the behavior occurs again, the educator will fill out and send home a FIRST Behavior Communication Slip describing the behavior and actions taken in class to address the behavior. 

  • If the behavior occurs again, the educator will send home a SECOND Behavior Communication Slip. At this time, the Educator will create a Behavior Support Plan that includes the following information: 

    • Description of behavior 

    • Interventions and supportive strategies taking place in class 

    • Ideas from families to support the student in class and at home 

    • A clear plan including goals for expected behavior and consequences  

    • Depending on the severity of the on-going disruptive behavior, a consequence may include removal from the program 

    • Heartwood reserves the right to suspend or expel any participant from the program who poses discipline problems, regardless of whether all steps in this discipline procedure have been completed 

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