Cedar Brook staff will conduct on site risk assessments daily, as well we then do daily risk assessments with the children (such as boundaries, tool safety, etc). Both risks and benefits are considered and the program focuses on making judgments and identifying measures that manage risks while securing benefits. Forest and Nature Practitioners implement a variety of risk assessments, based on need:
- seasonal risk assessment
- activity or experience risk assessments
- daily risk assessments
- dynamic risk assessments
- Injuries from executing strenuous and demanding physical activity, sometimes on uneven ground
- injuries from failing to properly use tools
- inclement weather-related
- coming in contact with poison ivy
- presence of wild animals, insects (including ticks), staff will be familiar with the recommendations and procedures regarding ticks as seen at https://tickencounter.org/prevention/tick_removal.
The following are practices and guidelines including examples that educators will apply with the children as we guide them toward making safe choices in our natural playground.
When we walk through the forest, we go out in groups that have two Educators present at all times. Our educator leader will be in the front and an educator or volunteer will be in the back. The children may not need to be in a line, but they do need to be inside the educator’s arc or line of sight.
When needed, boundaries will be established with the input of the children. Always taking a moment to gather and discuss prior to outings and once again at forest site. Adults will watch to ensure that the children do not go beyond the boundaries. Teachers will remain in close proximity to the children at all times.
Sticks for play will be the length of the child’s arm or shorter except at the educator’s discretion. Sticks are for building, digging, and imaginative play. They are not for hitting. When we run, we put the sticks down. We are aware of other’s space. We keep sticks away from others faces. Children will be taught to keep sticks down low when in a group and how to create a “safety bubble” when on their own.
Children love to throw natural objects and they will be given the safety parameters on how to do this. When we are near the water, we may throw rocks. When we throw rocks, we look around and check to make sure that no one is close to us, in our safety bubble (the area a few meters around our body). We may throw rocks that are as large as the palms of our hands. We throw rocks only where they won’t disturb others (animals, birds, people).
We may climb as high as we are tall. We only climb as high as we can climb on our own. We only climb when an adult can safely spot us (watch us and keep us safe). The adult will be present only to spot a child and will not to assist them to get higher. If an educator can’t be present or cannot safely spot the child, the child will not be able to climb.
We will primarily access shallow, slow-moving water bodies. Before we visit a body of water, the Teachers will engage in a conversation with the children about safety consideration while around the water.
Washroom and Hygiene – We require that all participants are fully toilet trained prior to starting the forest program.