Table of Contents
- Mission, Vision, and Core Values
- Our Philosophy
- Administrative Policies
- Health & Wellness Policies
- Safety Policies
- Risk Management
- Communication Policies
- Sustainable Site Management Plan
Song Book (PDF download)
Our programs run in Peterson Creek, a culturally significant area to our local First Nation.
We respectfully acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc Nation and the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people.
Who we are
Sprouting Knowledge is dedicated to providing rich playful opportunities for children and their families to connect to nature. We strive to build relationships that support and nurture our development as human beings through play, observation, reflection and stewardship.
We seek to be an organization that inspires families to connect more deeply to the natural world and thus care for it as they would their children.
We believe in developmentally appropriate practice in education that meets the needs of the children and families we serve. We strive to provide the highest quality programming possible by having staff committed to forming relationships and using reflection as a tool.
We work hard to create a positive, healthy, safe and supportive work environment where people love what they do. Part of that commitment includes paying a wage higher than industry standard as well as mentorship and ongoing professional development.
We are stewards of the land where we work and play. It is our responsibility. as stewards. to leave the eco-system better than when we found it and to engage in sustainable, ethical practices always in all ways. To give back to the land and our community in ways which show our gratitude.
The programs at Sprouting Knowledge are guided by Forest School Principles as well as a Steiner based mentoring model.
Principles of Forest School:
- Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions outdoors with the same group of learners, over an extended period of time, if practicable encompassing the seasons (rather than a one-off visit). The initial sessions of any program establish physical and behavioural boundaries as well as making initial observations on which to base future program development.
- Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world which evolves into long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices in staff, learners and the wider community. A Forest School program constantly monitors its ecological impact and works within a sustainable site management plan.
- Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. This means the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner.
- Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice including holding an up-to-date outdoor first aid qualification. The Forest School leader is a reflective practitioner and sees themselves, therefore, as a learner too. There is a high ratio of practitioner/adults to learners.
- At Forest School play and choice are an integral part of the learning process where we create a community for development and learning which includes appropriate dialogue and relationship building. Practitioner observations feed into ‘scaffolding’ and tailoring experiences to learning and development. Reflective practice is a feature of each session to ensure learners and practitioners can understand their achievements, develop emotional intelligence and plan for the future.
For more information on UK Forest School Principles see: https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/full-principles-and-criteria-for-good-practice/
Sprouting Knowledge mentors are parents, and future parents who are passionate about combining their knowledge of children’s development with using the natural world as a tool for stimulating learning and personal growth. We strive to high quality reflective teaching that provides children and their families a solid foundation they can grow on.
Our summer camp leader are typically University students who love the outdoors and children. Summer camp leader complete intensive training designed to teach them our core routines, ethos of teaching, developmental appropriateness, games, guidance strategies and risk management. They work under the direction of our camp director who is a seasoned nature educator.
We are a small team with highly specialized skills. ECE subs are hard to find in typical settings let alone our unique one.
We currently have one substitute facilitator and are always looking for more!
- When one facilitator is away we will call our substitute.
- If she is unavailable we will ask a parent to volunteer.
- If no parents can attend the facilitator may plan to run a modified program solo.
You are welcome to send or not send your child in this instance.
- If both facilitators are away class will be cancelled and refunds issued.
- In the event of long term illness or injury programs might be cancelled if a suitable substitute cannot be found.
Planning & Documentation
At Sprouting Knowledge we emphasize the provision of well-planned programs which meet the individual needs of each child thereby decreasing opportunities for inappropriate behaviour. All interactions between children and early childhood educators at Sprouting Knowledge will promote the child’s development of a healthy and positive self. Children will learn, through interactions with their early childhood educators, other children and their environment that they are capable of success and self-control. All interactions at Sprouting Knowledge, including those that guide behaviour, will provide the children with learning experiences and opportunities to develop an understanding of moral values and a sense of security.
Appropriate and consistent limits will be established based on the children’s ages and developmental needs in order to ensure a safe and healthy environment for both the children and the early childhood educators.
We incorporate many methods of encouraging acceptable behaviour by:
- Providing interesting and developmentally appropriate activities
- Gently guiding children through transitions with songs & rhythm
- Being aware of the environment & interactions between the children.
- Redirecting negative or inappropriate behaviours.
- Providing positive reinforcement for all positive behaviour to promote the children’s awareness of what behaviours are expected and encouraged.
- Allowing children to make choices as often as possible; facilitators will make expectations clear when it is not a matter of choice.
- Using proximity and touch to remind the children that they are available to help
- Providing clear, consistent & developmentally appropriate limits
- Providing age appropriate explanations, for the limits that have been established; promoting the child’s development of independent self control
- Providing supportive reminders of the established limits.
- Ignoring minor incidents, as long as no individual is at risk, in order to prevent negatively reinforcing an inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour.
- Focusing on the behaviour rather than the child and establishing clear limits in a positive and specific manner. This helps to acknowledge that the child is loved and accepted as he or she is and can promote a clearer understanding of what the child should be doing; preventing possible resistance or defensiveness.
- ‘Time-in’ (instead of ‘time-out’) is guided by the facilitator who removes the child from play in order to reconnect with the child and discover how she can help them work through their feelings in a more positive manner.
- Abiding by the principle that use of threats and/or any form of corporal punishment on a child, under any circumstances, is detrimental to a child’s development of trust and respect and is cause for immediate dismissal.
If there has been a behavioural incident involving a child at any point in the day their parent will be notified. All information and cooperation from parents is appreciated when trying to determine the cause of a child’s misbehaviour; parents are, after all, the “experts” on their child. We see parents as team members and appreciate their support in guiding their children to develop positive relationships with their peers.
In the rare event a solution to a major behavioural incident cannot be found we may have to ask your child only attend our program with additional support.
Adult to Child Ratios
To ensure the continued delivery of high quality programming we have low adult to child ratios.
- Preschool 1:6
- School Age 1:7
Inclusion & Accessibility
Children of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend our outdoor programs. The parking lot is accessible by car and many of our sites are accessible by wheelchair. If you would like your child to attend one of our programs and they need extra support please contact us to discuss options.
If we find that an individual child’s need for support is greater than the facilitator and the volunteers can provide, we will work with you to find additional support for your child.
Some options may include:
- ask your child’s support worker if they can attend with your child.
- attend yourself or designate a friend or family member.
Please note: Anyone hired or volunteering to support a child must attend our volunteer orientation and submit a criminal record check.
Volunteers & Visitors
We love visitors! If you would like to join one of our programs please contact our director.
We ask that parents and family members who wish to visit bring something to contribute. Some ideas to get you started are a story, a song, a skill or a nature treasure…. Everyone has something to offer so please don’t be shy and share your self with us!
Adults who volunteer in our programs must submit a clear criminal record check.
One can be obtained by taking this letter to your local RCMP detachment and filling out a request form. Results arrive in 1-2 weeks and can be picked up then brought to the program where you are volunteering.
If you have a Ministry of Justice clearance letter please feel free to send it to our administrators as evidence of your clear record.
Program fees are due upon registration in a program.
Program fees are outlined on the program’s description page.
Refunds & Cancellations
All programs are refundable up to 2 weeks prior to the start week* less a $60 administration fee.
2 weeks* prior to the start of a program a $90 administration fee will be charged.
Once a program begins fees are non-refundable.
*Weeks start on Monday. Withdrawal or cancellation requests received over the weekend will be considered received on Monday.
Any classes that are cancelled will be refunded less a $5 administration fee.
We recognized the cost associated with outdoor programs can be a barrier for some families.
We can assist with finding lower cost gear for your child or loaning items. Through our fundraising campaigns we are able to partially sponsor children who would not otherwise be able to attend the program.
If you have a need for financial assistance, please contact us.
All applications are confidential. Families can receive financial assistance for up to two years.
If a child is picked up after the end of their registered program a late fine of $5 for the first 15 minutes and $1/minute after that.
This fine must be paid before the child is able to return to the program.
Illness & Make-Up Days
If your child does not come to the program for any reason, there is no refund or reduction in fees. Children may however make up any class missed if space permits within one week of the absence.
Should Sprouting Knowledge be closed due to staff illness, fees will be refunded within 2 weeks.
The first 4 weeks are a probationary period. Sprouting Knowledge reserves the right to request that the child is withdrawn from the program if they are unable to adapt to the program and the staff believe the program is unable to meet their needs.
In this situation a 50% refund will be offered.
Termination of Services
Sprouting Knowledge will terminate services immediately in the following situations:
- A parent or family member behaving in an inappropriate manner
- A parent or family member is abusive or aggressive towards a staff member or other families
- A family has incurred 5 late fines
- A child has unaddressed behavioural issues that compromise the safety of the children and staff
Health & Wellness Policies
In short if your child is well enough to attend the program and no one else in your household is sick they may attend.
If your child has an illness or infection that could be easily passed to other children or staff please keep them at home until they are no longer contagious.
Illness & Infections
Illness & Infections
Your child will be sent home if they are showing:
We have a zero tolerance sick policy. If your child is unwell please keep them at home.
Your child will be sent home if they are showing:
- Difficulty in breathing – wheezing or a persistent cough;
- Fever (1OO degrees F/38.3 degrees C or more);
- Sore throat or trouble swallowing;
- Infected skin or eyes, or an undiagnosed rash;
- Headache and stiff neck (should see physician);
- Unexplained diarrhea or loose stool
(may or may not be combined with nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps).
- Are not well enough to take part in the regular programs of the program.
A doctor’s note in the case of undiagnosed rash is required before the child can return.
If your child becomes ill during our program, we will contact you to come and pick up your child. We will endeavor to keep the child quiet and comfortable until you arrive.
Families will be advised via email of any outbreak of a communicable disease.
We do not keep or record vaccination history for any of the children or staff in our programs.
Food & Allergies
Families are expected to send their child to our programs each day with a nutritious litter-free snack/lunch and a water bottle or thermos.
Facilitators carry extra granola bars in the event a child has not come with a snack. We also carry a medium sized thermos in the event a child forgets their own water bottle.
Facilitators should be made aware of any allergies upon program registration and will take the necessary steps to protect individual students as necessary. Unless informed and requested, facilitators do not inspect program snacks for nut, gluten, or dairy contents.
NOTICE: Our outdoor classroom environment contains many known allergens including but not limited to pollen, spores, dust, dog dander & tree nuts.
Celebrations & Sharing Food
Over the years many parents have asked to bring treats to forest school to celebrate a birthday or special occasion. This is something we love to support while encouraging healthy food choices.
Families may bring a fruit to share with the child’s class. It must be prepared before hand and not require staff to cut or wash. This can be a piece of fruit or a whole fruit depending on your budget and preferences.
While we will sometimes be within walking distance of a porta potty, we will not always be able to return to an indoor bathroom. Children must be comfortable toileting outdoors with assistance from teachers. Children should be able to inform the teachers when toileting help as required. If accidents happen, children will be changed using the back-up clothing provided in their backpacks and wet clothing will be sent home in a plastic bag.
We wash our hands after toileting and before eating food.
Children are asked to line up before snack where one facilitator dusts them off and removes any really muddy layers before the other facilitator washes their hands.
- Hands are sprayed with lots of warm soapy water.
- Children rub and scrub to loosen large and small particles of dirt.
- Repeat steps 1 & 2 until the water runs clear off their fingers
- Hands are wiped dry with an individual cloth
- Children may then unpack their snack and get settled on the ground tarp.
All Sprouting Knowledge facilitators have a valid First Aid certificate and have been trained to deal with minor and major first aid issues.
Every facilitator carries in their backpack a First Aid Kit which in addition to basic supplies contains acetaminophen and antihistamine containing diphenhydramine that will only be administered with a parents consent.
Every child who participates at Sprouting Knowledge must be physically able to take part in program activities or have a support person who is capable of helping them participate.
ALL children must be able to respond to a request to stop.
This is important in the forest where we are close to bodies of water or steep cliffs.
If you think that this might be a challenge for your child, please contact us to discuss your child’s needs before you register for the program.
General Safety Principles
- Develop fun and engaging ways for children to follow the rules of staying in bounds
- Set up a safe space with boundaries and safety guidelines.
- Constantly assess risk as conditions change (dynamic risk assessment).
- Observe the children’s interactions with each other and with nature.
- Spot the children during more challenging physical activity.
- Gently guide the children to safer activities if required.
Child Entry and Release Policy
Adults must sign their child in and out of our programs.
Someone make eye contact with a facilitator before dropping off or picking up.
If you will not be picking up your child please advise a facilitator as to who they can expect and please ensure their name is on the list of alternate pickup people on their registration forms.
Child Protection Policy
All Sprouting Knowledge staff are committed to taking a proactive position regarding the prevention of child abuse. In accordance with the Child and Family Services Act our staff are trained to immediately report to MCFD if s/he suspects that child abuse has occurred or if a child is at risk of abuse.
Reporting procedures and training are provided to all staff.
As a Forest School, we believe that risk is an inherent and valuable part of our play and healthy child development. The assessment and management of risk is an essential skill for children to acquire and adults to support. As facilitators it is our role to offer learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
We co-assess and co-manage risk as appropriate to each individual child through ongoing individual and activity, and seasonal site risk assessments while always considering the balance between benefits and risks involved.
Some of the risks we consistently manage in our outdoor play include, but are not limited to:
- Inclement weather / lack of weather preparedness
- Injuries from physical activities, such as running, climbing, jumping, sliding
- Creek play in fast moving, cold running water
- Interaction with domestic animals and animal feces
- Presence of wild animals such as ticks, spiders, snacks, and squirrels
- Physical environmental risks such as boulders, large rocks, tree snags or fallen limbs
- Ingestible natural toxins such as mushrooms and berries
- Contact with Poison Ivy and Bittersweet Nightshade
- Other park users/passerbys
- Open spaces and risk of getting lost
Please ensure that you have signed the medical release form so that we have permission to perform the required first aid or transfer your child to a hospital if necessary.
- Minor first aid incident
If a child falls and gets a cut, a facilitator does first aid while the other facilitator observes the group.
If a child gets a bump, scratch, or bruise, we will let the person picking up your child know.
- Medical emergency requiring a Doctors assessment
In the event a child is injured to an extent where they do not require immediate medical attention but should be seen by a doctor within the next 12-24 hours their parents will be contacted and an incident form will be completed.
All staff involved will debrief the incident immediately.
- Medical emergency requiring immediate transfer
In a serious emergency, one of the facilitators remains with the injured child while the other calls 911 and the child’s parent or other emergency contacts. The facilitator on the phone then hands the phone to the facilitator with the child and manages the group to keep them calm. The first aid facilitator will arrange with emergency staff what procedures work best for the transfer to medical care.
Mother Nature is a dynamic and unpredictable host. There may be times when the weather changes unexpectedly and we need to seek shelter immediately and/or cancel programs.
These include but are not limited to:
- An issued Environment Canada Weather warning
- weather that is below -15C including windchill
- weather that is above 40C
- a heavy rainstorm lasting longer than 1hr (Peterson Creek is prone to flash flooding)
- “3 breaks” rule in a windstorm
- SD73 has a snow day
See Appendix A for our Emergency Procedure Flowchart for Staff >>
See Appendix B for Our Emergency Procedures Document for Staff >>
In case of early dismissal due to unsafe conditions, we will attempt to contact each child’s parent or caregiver. If we cannot contact a parent or caregiver, we will contact the next person listed on the family’s emergency contact list.
Here in the interior the three most common reasons we cannot go outside to play are: extreme heat/extreme cold and poor air quality. We call these “inclement weather days”. On inclement weather days class will either be reduced by an hour or cancelled entirely depending on the severity.
Inclement weather notices will be texted the morning of to the parent or caregiver who filled out the registration form.
A credit will be applied to your account for any program that was reduced or cancelled due to inclement weather. There are no refunds for programs cancelled due to inclement weather as defined above and below.
Extreme Cold Days
When the weather is -13C through -18C including windchill we:
1. Bring along our pop-up tent and tent heater to give us all somewhere to warm up.
2. Start class an hour later and shorten it to two hours.
When it is over -18C with windchill class is cancelled.
Extreme Heat Days
When the weather is 35C or hotter we:
- Remain in our most sheltered/shaded sites along the creekbed.
- Encourage children to drink plenty of water and take lots of water breaks.
- Have water fights and get wet!
When the temperature is over 45C classes are cancelled.
When the AQHI is a 7 or higher:
- Full day sessions will be reduced to half day.
- Running games and hikes with extreme elevation gain will be postponed.
- Children will be encouraged to wear water soaked bandanas or a dampened facemask.
When the AQHI is 10+ classes are cancelled.
Sprouting Knowledge staff will use email and phone as primary modes of communication with parents. Please also check our website for regular updates and information. For attendance purposes, a phone call or text message is required. Please DO NOT Facebook message us, email or use other forms of social media – we will not receive it.
Please always inform instructors promptly if your child will be absent or late. We will not wait for missing individuals if they are beyond the program start time. At the start of each morning all parents are required to sign their child in and leave relevant emergency contact information for that given day. No child will be released to an adult who is not listed on that emergency contact sheet or without prior notification from the parent, as per our Child Entry and Release Policy.
Staff will call parents on their cell phones in case of any issue or problem throughout the day.
In the event of an emergency, parents/guardians will be contacted by telephone once emergency personnel (if needed) have been contacted.
In the event that weather or road conditions make travel to/from our programs dangerous for staff/ participants and we need to cancel programs or close early for the day, parents or guardians will be contacted by telephone.
Questions & Concerns
In case of questions or concerns, Sprouting Knowledge staff will be available for parents for 15 minutes at the end of each session. Should you have any questions or concerns about your child’s well-being or success, we strongly encourage you to discuss it with staff directly and immediately. We are open to feedback at all times and always have your child’s best interest as priority. If you or a staff member feel that you require an extended or more focused conversation, plans can be made to do so.
We will provide feedback from the day to parents as necessary or notable. Please be considerate that time restraints do not allow us to give feedback for every child, each and every day. If there is something notable or remarkable from the day we will share it, but otherwise please assume your child had a successful and enjoyable time. If you have an interest or need for specific feedback, please let instructors know at the start of the day.
We want to hear from you. If you have a complaint or grievance that cannot be resolved within the time allotted or with an instructor directly, please submit your complaint in writing to Sprouting Knowledge Education Director Krystal Jeffery at email@example.com .
All written complaints will be addressed with the following guiding principles:
- Concerns or complaints do not necessarily signal a crisis.
We believe that concerns and complaints are a natural outcome of providing care; and offer an opportunity for growth, change and improvement.
Wherever possible, concerns should be resolved by the affected parties.
We strive to engage all parties involved and seek an inclusive resolution.
- Organizations and people act in good faith.
We will address concerns with this assumption and give staff and parents the benefit of the doubt wherever reasonable.
- Concerns will be treated with consistency.
Not all concerns will be alike; however we will strive to treat concerns that are similar in nature in a consistent manner.
- The response to concerns will be timely.
Review of a concern will begin as soon as practical, after it has been received.
- Concerns will be treated with fairness.
The actions of our staff will be guided by what is fair and reasonable; and the validity of concerns will not be prejudged.
- Concerns will be treated confidentially.
Subject to applicable legal requirements, all concerns will be treated as confidential.
Sustainable Site Management Plan
Sprouting Knowledge nature school takes place in Lower Peterson Creek park, in downtown Kamloops in the Thompson Okanagan region. The Peterson Creek watershed is a primary outflow for 3 different residential areas and an important tributary to the South Thompson River at its meeting point with the North Thompson River. We recognize that this area is traditional unceeded territory of the Secwepemc First Nation, primarily the T’Kemlups Indian Band.
Lower Peterson Creek Park is a well used city park that sees daily traffic from hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, students, and youth. The areas we travel and play are established trails with high levels of use, but our dry climate still means our forest and dryland ecosystems are highly fragile and susceptible to rapid change.
A large-scale Environmental Impact Assessment guides our actions and policies, and individual site assessments are done tri-annually. Our presence is divided amongst 10 different play areas and creek-bed play is restricted to already high-use spaces. We rotate our play sites every 3 weeks, and allow a minimum of 9 weeks in between our visits to allow for re-growth and rest. New assessments are completed upon every site return, with the children’s involvement as well. How has our presence changed this space? What plants have grown back or returned? Are the animals we’ve seen still in the area?
As a major part of our forest school identity, our students are very aware of and in tune with the seasonal changes within this space, and observe nature’s changes with respect and wonder.
Reducing our human impact is also a daily part of our core routines. Nature school facilitators arrive early each day to site-check and clear the area of dangerous or disgusting litter (ie. Dog poop, garbage). As the park sees very high pet traffic, removing animal waste is a persistent and daily part of our facilitators’ work. Kids are asked to bring litter-less snack packs and are reminded to always pack out what they pack in. While the kids do use nature as a bathroom, this is kept to a minimum of 3M away from water sources and any solid waste is bagged and removed. In general, facilitators do their best to follow Leave No Trace principles wherever possible (see LNTC Canada or lntc.org).
Lastly, invasive species are named, recognized and removed where possible, with regular seed and weed talks and help from the City of Kamloops.
We take the privacy of all students and families seriously and regularly take steps to protect it. Any personal data shared with us, including contact and medical information or photographic images will be processed strictly in accordance with privacy legislation and will be used only for the purposes that you have consented to. We will not share details with third parties without consent, except where we are legally compelled or obligated to do so.
For further details on how photographs are taken and shared, please see Photography Policy below. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about protecting the privacy of the information you provide.
At Sprouting Knowledge we take photos of children so that we can make learning visible to parents, children and the public.
We request that all parents in our programs sign a photo release.
We will never name a child in a photo and will not post specific location information beyond what is publicly available due to the location of a program or event.
Facilitators do their best to take non-identifying photos of the children in our program. If we would like to use a photo in a public item that is only of your child and clearly shows their face we will make attempts to contact you before using it.
The photos we take are used in the following ways:
- To reflect on our teaching.
- To teach new facilitators.
- To use on our website.
- To make learning stories for the children in our programs.
- To use on our social media platforms such as Instagram & Facebook.
- For the creation of promotional materials such as posters, brochures and business cards.
If you object to the usage of your child’s image in any photo you see please let us know and we will remove it. Program photos are stored in a private storage account on a cloud server.
Clothing Policy and Recommendations
Check the Weather
Children must come with gear that is appropriate to the weather that day. Please check the weather forecast each morning and dress your child for the LOW of the day, NOT the high.
When it is COOL (spring/fall), we recommend:
- Inner layer of fleece (or polypropylene) or natural fabrics such as wool or silk.
The fabric should wick moisture away from the skin and provide a warm, breathable layer.
- Middle layer of insulation made of wool or fleece.
- Outer shell of waterproof, windproof clothing, including a rain jacket and rain pants.
- Warm, waterproof hat that covers the ears.
For the feet, we recommend Sorel, Muck Boot, or The North Face.
Alternatively, your child can wear waterproof boots that are one size too large with two pairs of socks (wool is excellent for socks).
Please do not dress your child in cotton when it is cold. Cotton is lovely in the summer but not in cool weather.
Why do backpackers say “cotton kills” >>
When it is COLD (winter), please add:
- Warm and waterproof gloves or mittens that slip on and off easily.
(We recommend an ELASTIC cuff that comes up OVER their sleeves.)
- Long underwear.
- An extra pair of warm gloves and warm socks in your child’s bag.
When it is WARM, please wear:
- A long-sleeved shirt (we recommend light cotton, silk or hemp).
- Durable pants.
- A sun hat.
- Running or hiking shoes (note that children may still play in water and mud. Footwear should be waterproof wherever possible!)
- Sun protection
*** Your child may need to be sent home from the program if they are not adequately prepared. ***
Download our gear lists:
If is helpful if children have a spare change of clothing in their backpacks.
For more guidance regarding clothing please visit our gear list page >