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Health Care Policy

This policy is for use by the staff and parents of Fort Hill to provide the safest possible environment for the optimal well-being of the children and staff at Fort Hill. 


Sections


Emergency Evacuation


Emergency Telephone Numbers

Contact Contact Information
Smith College Public Safety ext. 800
413-585-2490
Poison Control 800-222-1222
Northampton Area Pediatrics 413-584-8700
Massachusetts EEC 413-788-8401
Department of Children and Families 413-775-5000
800-792-5200

Procedures for Emergencies and Illness

September 2021 Update

While the center is operating with increased health and safety regulations related to stemming the spread of Covid-19 within our community, some of our typical health and illness protocols have been temporarily amended. Please contact the director, Jen Godlesky, or assistant director, Laurie DeMello, with questions about our current practices, or to obtain a copy of our handook addendum, which explains current practices and policies in detail. Jen can be reached at jgodlesk@smith.edu and Laurie can be reached at ldemello@smith.edu.

Staff Training

The staff at Fort Hill are certified in CPR (renewed annually on the February professional day) and first aid (renewed every two years on the February professional day), and are trained in responding to allergic reactions (trained in Epi-Pen administration annually), and blood borne pathogens / standard precautions (annually). The ability of staff to follow regulations regarding medication administration is evaluated during the August professional days.

Communicating with Emergency Personnel

In case of a medical emergency, CECE staff call Smith College Public Safety at x800 from any campus phone or 585-2490 from an outside phone and communicate needed information to the dispatcher, who summons appropriate emergency services.

If the emergency occurs away from Smith College property, staff call 911. If the emergency is a result of a medication error, the Director notifies EEC at 413-788-8401.

Staff provide emergency personnel with the following information:

  • Caller's name
  • The nature of the emergency
  • The CECE phone number: 585-3290
  • The CECE address: 28 Lyman Road, Northampton

Staff are prepared to communicate and document the following information:

  • What was the child doing?
  • What equipment was involved?
  • Was another child involved?
  • Were any hazards involved?
  • Were there any witnesses? What did they see?

Minor Injuries

A teacher will notify a family about minor incidents at the end of the day and will provide them with an Injury Report to return to the teacher with a signature. All incidents are logged in the office. If your child receives a more serious injury, the teacher will contact you immediately. Please click here for a sample copy of an injury report.

Biting

Biting is unfortunately not unexpected in toddler classrooms and can be emotionally charged. Toddlers bite for many reasons and we work to prevent biting in the classroom. If a child is bitten, we administer appropriate first aid and notify parents immediately. Teachers complete both an injury report for the child who received the bite and an incident report for the child who did the biting. Both forms require parent signatures and are documented in a log with copies filed in the child's file.

Injury Reports Procedure

Staff complete an injury report for every injury. If the injury is significant, the staff member calls the parent immediately. Parents receive a copy of the injury report to sign and return to the teacher. The teacher submits the report to the office coordinator, who logs the report on the injury log and files the report in the child's file. We are required to report injuries treated by a physician to our licensing authority, the Massachusetts Department of Education and Care, within two business days. Any illness or injury that occurs at Fort Hill and requires overnight hospitalization must be reported immediately to the EEC, 413-788-8401.

First Aid and Transportation to the Hospital

The following procedures apply to events requiring first aid or further treatment:

  • In the case of an emergency or illness (such as seizure, a serious fall, or serious cut), the teacher in charge will begin adminstration of emergency first aid while the supporting teacher takes the other children to another area or room.
  • A supporting teacher sends for assistance and notifies the office of the emergency.
  • The office calls ext. 800 or 585-2490 to notify Public Safety.
  • A supervising staff member contacts the parent to come and pick-up the child, or if time is a factor to have the parent meet the child and accompanying staff at the emergency room of Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
  • If the emergency is life-threatening, the child is transported to the hospital by ambulance, accompanied by a teacher and the child's file, along with all permission forms, medications, and emergency information.
  • If the emergency is not life-threatening, and the parent needs assistance in transporting the child, a staff member offers to contact Smith College Public Safety to drive to the hospital and/or accompany the child.
  • If parents cannot be reached, staff leave messages on all parents' contact numbers, call the emergency contacts, and continue to attempt reaching parents.
  • The incident is documented in writing with a copy placed in the child’s file.
  • The director notifies EEC, 413-788-8401.

Emergencies While on a Field Trip

The following procedure is followed in an emergency event occurring away from the Fort Hill grounds.

  • If and accident or acute illness occurs while on a field trip, the supervising teacher takes charge of the emergency, assesses the situation, and administers first aid as needed. The supervising teacher determines the method and urgency of treatment based on the severity of the illness or emergency. If necessary, the teacher will call 911 to summon an ambulance. If on the Smith Campus, the teacher will call 413-585-2490.
  • A supporting teacher contacts CECE and notifies the director of the emergency, detailing the nature and extent of the injury or illness and the proposed plan of action.
  • The director notifies EEC, 413-0788-8401.
  • Teachers carry an attendance list, cell phones, first aid kits, emergency contact information, medical forms, and medications on all field trips.
  • Teachers log the destination, route, and group information on a clipboard in the office before leaving the school.

Plan for Injury Prevention

  • To prevent injury and ensure a safe environment, the staff member who opens each classroom is responsible upon arrival each day for monitoring the environment and for removing, or reporting to office, any hazards.
  • The teacher responsible for unlocking the playground gates in the morning monitors the playground and removes or reports hazards.
  • No smoking is allowed on the premises.
  • All toxic substances, sharp objects, matches, and other hazardous objects are stored out of the reach of children.
  • First aids kits, medications, and emergency contact information are carried on field trips.
  • All children 12 months or younger are placed on their backs for sleeping unless the child's health care professional orders otherwise in writing.
  • All regular staff have current first aid certification. Only staff with current first aid administer first aid no matter how minor the injury.
  • Injury reports are completed according to the procedure described above.

Assessing Injuries to Children

When a child is injured, teachers fully assess the child's injury and follow first aid procedures. The teacher communicates with the child, asks questions, and monitors the child throughout the day to determine whether the course of treatment continues to be the most appropriate one.

When the child is calm and first aid has been administered, the teacher may gather and document additional information, including:

  • What was the child doing?
  • What equipment was involved?
  • Was another child involved?
  • Were any hazards involved?
  • Were there any witnesses? What did they see?

Plan for Managing Infectious Disease

We strive to maintain a healthy environment for all of the children in our care as well as for the staff. Illness spreads more easily among children in group care than for those in home care. When any signs of illness are present, we ask parents to give close attention to their children to determine the advisability of their participation in the program. An ill child exposes all of the other children and staff at Fort Hill to that illness. Illness significantly impacts the quality of the program and the individual lives of families and staff. Please consider the needs of all of the children and staff at Fort Hill. If a child is not well enough to fully participate in all normal activities of the day, please keep her home.

Being at school requires more energy/stamina than being at home. A child may appear well at home but be unable to cope with the demands of a group environment. If your child seems to be not quite well, please keep them home. The more conservative parents are about bringing their children to school when early symptoms appear, the healthier their children and the other children and staff at Fort Hill will be.

Notifying the School of Absence

Please call the office between 8 and 9 a.m. at 585-3290 if your child is ill and will be staying home. If a parent is uncertain about a child’s health, we recommend calling to discuss the child’s symptoms and how they may affect her day at school. We may have information about illnesses that are “going around” that may help to clarify a child’s condition.

Exclusion

If at drop-off time it appears that a child is not well enough to be at school, teachers will ask the parent to take the child home.

Teachers also may call parents, or emergency contacts, during the day to pick up a child from school within thirty minutes. If any of the conditions listed below exist, or if staff determine that is in a child's best interest to to be taken home, staff will call parents and request the child be picked up. The child will remain in the classroom, isolated from the group, until picked up. If parents cannot be reached, those listed as emergency contacts will be called.

Exculsion criteria

Children may be excluded from the CECE if any of the following conditions exist:

  • the illness prevents the child from participating in the program activities or from resting comfortably;
  • the illness results in greater care than the staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of the other children;
  • the child has any of the following conditions: fever, lethargy, uncontrolled coughing, inexplicable irritability, persistent crying, difficult breathing, wheezing, persistent abdominal pain, rash, pertussis, mumps, measles, respiratory tract illness or rubella;
  • diarrhea;
  • vomiting once in the previous 24 hours at home or at the CECE;
  • mouth sores, unless the physician states that the child is non-infectious;
  • rash with a fever or behavior change until the physician has determined that the illness is not a communicable disease;
  • conjunctivitis (defined as pink or red conductive with white or yellow discharge, often with matted eyelids) until examined by a physician and approved, with a written note, for return to school;
  • tuberculosis, until the child is non-infectious and the doctor provides a written note approving the child to return to school;
  • impetigo, until 24 hours after treatment has started or all the sores are covered;
  • strep infection, until 24 hours after treatment and the child has been without fever for 24 hours; and,
  • chicken pox, until the last blister has healed over.

Returning to CECE Following Exclusion

A child who has been excluded from the program may return after being evaluated by a physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner, and it has been determined, with a written note, that she is considered to pose no serious health risk to herself or the other children. The final decision concerning the inclusion or exclusion of a child from the program is made by CECE staff.

Notification of Communicable Disease

When a communicable disease has been introduced to the program, parents are notified by e-mail. Whenever possible, information regarding the communicable disease is made available to parents. The Department of Public Health is notified in appropriate circumstances.

Sick Siblings

If your child has a sick sibling, please refrain from bringing the sibling into the building. A staff member will be happy to meet you in the driveway and bring your child into school, or walk them to meet you at pick up time. Please call us and let us know when you will arrive and we will greet you outside. There is a “pull-off” area of the driveway near the entrance that is reserved for these pick-ups and drop-offs.

Immunization and Physical Examinations

The program requires, on admission, a physician's certificate that each child has been successfully immunized in accordance with the Department of Public Health's recommended schedule. No child is required, under 102 CMR 7.00 to have any such immunization if his parents object, in writing, on the grounds that it conflicts with their religious beliefs or if the the child's physician submits documentation that such a procedure is contradicted. This documentation is maintained in the child's file. No child is admitted to the program without the required documentation or immunizations. The program maintains a list of children who have documented exemptions from immunizations and these children are excluded from attending when a vaccine preventable disease is introduced into the program. The Massachusetts Immunization Program provides free childhood vaccines. The number is 888-0658-2850.

State law requires evidence of an annual physical examination for all children.


Plan for Infection Control

All staff members complete annual training in Blood Borne Pathogens by a health care professional.

Handwashing

All staff and children wash their hands with soap and running water using friction and dry them with individual or disposable towels. Soap dispensers are located near the front door, in each of the classrooms and in the bathrooms. Staff and children wash their hands minimally at the following times:

  • upon entering the classroom;
  • before eating or handling food;
  • after toileting;
  • before and after water play;
  • after coming into contact with bodily fluids and discharges;
  • after handling center animals or their equipment; and,
  • after cleaning tasks.

Adults must also wash their hands before and after administering medication, and after performing cleaning tasks, handling trash, or using cleaning products.

Sanitizing and Disinfection

We follow the Massachusetts state laws requiring sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces. Surfaces and play materials are washed with soap and water and then disinfected with a bleach solution, which is prepared daily. Surfaces and items are allowed to air dry for two minutes before use. The sanitizing and disinfecting schedule is as follows:

After each use
  • Sinks and faucets used for hand washing after the sink is used for rinsing toileting equipment;
  • Diapering surfaces;
  • Toys mouthed by children;
  • Bibs
  • Mops used for cleaning bodily fluids; and,
  • Thermometers (arterial thermometers are cleaned with alcohol wipes).
At least daily
  • Toilets and toilet seats;
  • Sinks and sink faucets;
  • Drinking fountains;
  • Water table and water play equipment;
  • Play tables;
  • Smooth surface non-porous floors;
  • Mop used for cleaning; and,
  • Cloth washcloths and towels.
At least monthly or more frequently as needed to maintain cleanliness, when wet or soiled, and before use by another child:
  • Cots, mats or other approved sleeping equipment;
  • Sheets, blankets, or other coverings; and,
  • Machine washable fabric toys.

The bleach solutions are made according to the following Department of Public Health recommendations:

Use Solution

Dishes, baby toys, thermometer, tables, countertops and sleep mats

1 tbsp of bleach in 1 gallon of cool water

Sinks, toilets, diapering tables and pails

4 tbsp (1/4 cup) of bleach in 1 gallon of cool water
Blood and vomit spill 1 part bleach in 9 parts warm water

Gloves

All staff wear gloves when they come into contact with blood or bodily fluids. Gloves are worn during diapering, toileting, when administering first aid for a cut, bleeding wound, or a bloody nose, or when feeding an infant breast milk. Gloves are never reused and are changed between children being handled.

Disposal of Infectious Materials

Any material belonging to the program that contains liquid, semi-liquid, or dry, caked blood is enclosed in a separate bag and washed.

Cloth items belonging to a child that come into contact with blood or bodily fluids are double bagged and sent home with an explanatory note.


Procedures for Using and Maintaining First Aid Equipment

Location and Maintenance of First Aid Kits

First aid kits are located in a cabinet in each of the classrooms, in the office and in the playground sheds in a prominent location, labeled "First Aid." Portable first aid kits are carried on field trips and during evacuations. The kits include children's emergency contact, medications, and medical information and:

  • adhesive tape
  • band aids
  • gauze pads
  • compress
  • gauze roller bandage
  • disposable non-latex gloves
  • instant cold pack
  • scissors
  • tweezers
  • thermometer
  • CPR mouth guard

The Assistant Director inspects first aid kits every August and supervising teachers inspect the kits monthly on professional days and monitor the kits throughout the year.


Plan for Administration of Medication

All Medication

  • The first dose must be administered at home in case of an allergic reaction. State law prohibits staff members from administering the first dose of medicine, prescription or non-prescription. Please verify with the teacher that the child has been given the medicine previously with no adverse effects.
  • All medication must be given to the teacher directly by the parent, labeled and in its original container with the child’s name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the number of times per day and the number of days the medication is to be administered clearly indicated on the label.
  • All medications are stored in the first aid cabinet in the classroom marked with a red cross and is out of reach of the children.
  • Medication is administered only by regular staff members.
  • Teachers maintain a written record of the administration of any medication (excluding topical ointments and sprays applied to normal skin) with the Medication Administration Form. This completed record becomes part of the child's file. 
  • All unused medication is returned to the parent.

Prescription Medication

Prescription medication can be given to a child while in care at Fort Hill. Whenever possible, a parent should plan to come to Fort Hill to administer prescription medication if a mid-day dosage is required. When this is not possible, a staff member may administer the medication if a parent and the child's physician have signed a Medication Dispensing/Consent Form. The authorization forms are kept in the First Aid cabinet in each classroom and are carried whenever the child leaves the grounds.

The medication must be labeled and in its original container with the child’s name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the number of times per day and the number of days the medication is to be administered clearly indicated on the label. Prescription medications must be in their original container with the prescription order attached.

No medications will be given if pre-mixed in food or a baby bottle. No medications will be administered without a doctor’s order. Parents should monitor medications, including Epi-Pens, to be sure the prescription is current. Teachers submit a list of the expiration dates of all medications to the Assistant Director.

Supervising teachers will return all unused, outdated, and discontinued medications to a child's parent and document the return in the child's file. If return to a parent is not possible or practical, the prescription medications will be destroyed, and the destruction recorded, by the school nurse according to the policies of the Department of Public Health, Drug Control Program.

Non-prescription Medication

Non-prescription medication will be given only with written consent of the child’s physician. The physician's statement must be signed and list the medication, dosage, and criteria for its administration. The statement is valid for one year from the date it was signed. Additionally, parents must sign authorization forms. 

  • Non-prescription medications such as cough and cold medications require weekly authorization from parent and physician.
  • Topical non-prescription ointments such as sunscreen, insect repellant, and diapering ointments, are being applied to unbroken skin, require annual parent authorization.
  • Topical non-prescription ointments applied to broken skin require parent and physician authorization annually.

Topical Ointments, Sunscreen and Insect Repellant

Topical ointments and sprays will be administered to unbroken skin with written parental permission, which lists topical medications. The permission is valid for one year. 

Topical ointments and sprays applied to wounds, rashes, or broken skin require a written order from a physician, which is valid for one year, as well as an Authorization for Medication form signed by a parent. Please click here for the Medication Authorization form.

We ask parents to apply insect repellant and sunblock when needed before children come to school in the morning. For children who stay for the afternoon, families may provide their own insect repellant and sunscreen to be reapplied by the teachers as needed throughout the day. All sunscreen and insect repellant must be documented on the child's Topical ointment permission form in their file in the office.


Plan for Mildly Ill Children

Children who are mildly ill may remain in school if they are not infectious (please see Plan for Managing Infectious Disease) and they can fully participate in the daily program, including outside time.

If the child's health condition worsens or if staff determine that the child poses a threat to the health of the other children, or if the child cannot be cared for by the staff, parents will be contacted to pick up the child within thirty minutes. The child will be cared for in a quiet area until the parent arrives.

Any toys, blankets or mats used by the ill child will be cleaned and disinfected before being used by other children.


Plan for Meeting Individual Children's Specific Health Care Needs

Individual Health Care Plans

State law requires individual health care plans (IHCPs) for children with chronic medical conditions, including allergies, that may require treatment during program hours. IHCPs must be developed in collaboration with the child’s physician and the program’s assistant director and/or health care consultant. The IHCP must specify the symptoms of the child’s condition, the treatment required, the possible side effects of the treatment, potential consequences of failure to provide the recommended treatment, as well as information on which teachers received training in the child's protocol and by whom: the physician, or with the physician’s consent, the program’s health care consultant, or the parent. 

IHCP and medication consent forms must be filled out in full, and in language that is easily understood by teachers and administrators at Fort Hill. The assistant director will work with families and health care providers to make sure forms are completed in full, teachers are trained on each child's protocol, and medications match the protocol described on the IHCP and medication consent form.

All important medical information is posted in the inside cabinet door of the first aid cabinet in each classroom and in a notebook in the office. Staff are notified of children with allergies during professional day meetings. All staff are trained in Epi-Pen administration.

Certain classrooms may be designated as being free of a certain food, if a child in the group has a severe allergy to a certain food. Please be conscientious about allergies and foods that are off-limits in your child's classroom.


Common Health Concerns

Further details regarding some of the more common health concerns are listed below. Please consult and use the following information in making your decision regarding your child’s health and ability to thrive in a group environment on any given day.

Colds

The early isolation of a child with signs of a cold not only reduces the number of children and staff exposed to the infection but also may minimize an individual child’s symptoms and shorten the course of illness. When a child has a cold, they need rest, quiet, extra fluids, often a cool mist humidifier, and may need additional holding and attention to keep them comfortable. Because teachers must respond to the needs of a large group of children, they are not able to provide a sick child with the care and comfort they may need. If your child is unable to maintain their usual routine and to participate fully in the program, they should be kept home until they can do so.

Conjunctivitis (or Pink Eye)

Infectious conjunctivitis is a highly contagious condition, which produces pink or red discoloration of the conjunctiva (inner eyelids and white of eye), with white or yellow discharge, caused by a virus or a bacteria. There is usually no pain or change in vision experienced by the person with infectious conjunctivitis. The illness is transmitted by touch contact between people. For this reason a person with conjunctivitis should perform good handwashing as well as avoid touching other people as much as possible.

Treatment does not help viral conjunctivitis. However treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic eye drops or ointment is usually recommended. Antibiotics often but not always eliminate contagiousness from bacterial conjunctivitis within 24 hours. Regardless of treatment, a person with conjunctivitis is still considered to be contagious as long as the eye is red and draining.

Very young children below the 5th birthday will be excluded from school until the child’s eye is no longer red and draining or until the child’s health care provider attests that the child may return. Older children (over the 5th birthday), who usually can perform good handwashing and avoid touching their classmates, do not need to be excluded from school.

Fever

Any child with a temporal artery temperature of 100.4 degrees or more should stay at home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. A child who develops a temporal artery temperature of above 100.4 degrees while in care will be isolated until the parents can be called and arrive to take the child home. We expect that parents will respond to such calls quickly and pick up their child within 30 minutes.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is evident when there is a strong, unpleasant odor associated with the stool. A mucous consistency also is often an identifying characteristic of diarrhea. We are required to exclude any child with diarrhea from group care as it is highly contagious and difficult to control hygienically. If a child develops loose stools while in our care, parents are called to pick the child up as soon as possible. Children may return to school when the diarrhea has resolved. Diarrhea has resolved when the child has had a well-formed stool or twenty-four hours have passed since the last loose stool.

Strep Throat

If your child is tested for strep throat, please keep them home from school until you receive the results of the “quick test.” If the test is positive, your child may return to school after receiving three doses of medicine, or twenty-four hours after beginning treatment.

Vomiting

A child who has vomited one or two times in the previous 24 hours at home or once at the CECE should be kept home until she has been free from vomiting for at least 24 hours. A child will be sent home if they vomit once at school.

Other Health Concerns

Other symptoms that might warrant exclusion or special attention include earaches and/or ear drainage, unusual listlessness, unexplained rashes or sores, difficulty in breathing, headaches, croupy cough, etc. For any of these symptoms, we ask parents to consult their child’s physician before bringing him to school. A follow-up note from the physician will be required if the symptoms persist even if a physician previously granted permission to attend school.


Procedure for Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

Mandated Reporting

All staff members are mandated reporters according to Massachusetts law. If a staff member has a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect of a child, they must file a report with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. Staff receive annual training by the Department of Children and Families on mandated reporting and recognizing child abuse and neglect.

Reporting Suspected Neglect or Abuse

The procedure for reporting suspected abuse or neglect is as follows:

  1. A staff member who suspects abuse or neglect must document his/her observations including the child’s name, date, time, child’s injuries, child’s behavior and any other pertinent information. The staff member discusses this information with the director.
  2. The director or the staff member, with assistance from the director, makes a verbal report to DSS, followed by a written report 51A within 48 hours.
  3. If a staff member believes that an incident should be reported to DSS, and the director disagrees, the staff member may report to DSS directly.
  4. All concerns of suspected abuse and neglect that are reported to DSS are communicated to the parents by the director unless a report is contra-indicated.
  5. EEC is notified of the 51A filing, 413-788-8401.

Procedure for Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect While in Care of the Center

It is the CECE’s commitment to protect all children in this facility from abuse or neglect. We conduct a background check on all staff members prior to employment (described in the Background Record Check Policy). The following describes procedures for reporting suspected child abuse/neglect while the child is in the Center’s care.

  • Any report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child is immediately reported to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). A meeting is held with the staff member in question to inform him/her of the filed report. DSS telephone number is 413-775-5000.
  • EEC is notified, 413-788-8401.
  • IN certain circumstances, the staff person in question will be immediately suspended from the program with pay pending the outcome of the DCF and EEC investigations. In some circumstances EEC may allow the staff person to continue working pending the outcome of the DCF investigation. If the report is screened out by the DCF, the Director has the option of having the staff member remain on suspension pending the EEC investigation or allowing the staff member to return to the classroom. This decision will be made by the director and will be based on the seriousness of the allegations and the facts available.
  • If the allegations of abuse/neglect are substantiated, it will be the decision of the Director whether or not the staff member will be reinstated.
  • The Director and staff will cooperate fully with all investigations.

Plan for Child Guidance

The educators at Fort Hill share with parents the responsibility for guiding children toward the goal of self-regulation. We believe that consistent expectations help build a child’s conscience and self-control. We utilize teaching strategies, limits, and routines that foster the internalized controls and awareness of others essential for positive social experiences.

Children are guided with positive feedback, explanations of expectations, and modeling of regulated behavior through calm, respectful interactions. Teachers engage children in dialogue to solve problems and conflicts. To promote the development of autonomy, children are given choices within appropriate limits. The environment is arranged to foster children’s competence and the development of internal control and motivation. Teachers create a physical environment that offers challenge and opportunities for children to collaboratively solve problems.

We actively teach prosocial behaviors by:

  • explaining the reasons for limits (e.g., “hitting hurts”);
  • offering feedback on caring behaviors (e.g., “I noticed you offered to help James pick up the pencils he dropped,” noting a behavior, rather than making a judgment such as “good girl” or “I like the way you..”);
  • modeling prosocial behaviors in our words and actions (e.g., positive language, respectful interactions with children, families, and colleagues);
  • recognizing, identifying, labeling, and validating feelings (e.g., ”Your face tells me you feel angry.”)
  • teaching children how to resolve conflicts by solving problems and empowering all children (e.g., facilitate children talking to one another, providing scripts if necessary, “Tell Peter you don’t like it when he takes your toy.”);
  • providing multiple opportunities for collaboration and cooperation (e.g., “Did you ask Maria? She knows a lot about turtles.” emphasizing a project-based curriculum engaging groups of children, and emphasizing community and meaningful contributions to the community, such as planting the garden); and,
  • actively assessing and supporting the development of social skills in all children.

We recognize, however, that it is both typical and developmentally appropriate for young children to test limits and react impulsively. We support children as they develop the self-regulatory skills to successfully explore relationships, express feelings, and learn in a group setting. Depending on the age and motivation for the child’s behavior, our intervention strategies will vary. However, our message to the children always is that, although these behaviors are understandable and their feelings are acceptable and important; hurtful behaviors are not acceptable. Our goal is to recognize the individual needs of children while helping them develop appropriate ways of meeting their needs without hurting others or school materials. We set limits recognizing that limits provide children with a sense of security.

The Fort Hill teachers are guided by a book by John Gottman, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting, and by the Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach articulated by Ross Greene in The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated and “Chronically Inflexible” Children. Discipline involves setting limits and at times restricting or prohibiting, and also incorporates respect and caring for self and others, explaining the reasons for limits, and helping to provide control for a child who is developing self-control. We help children recognize emotions, distinguish between feelings and behaviors, to develop an appropriate repertoire for expressing one’s feelings and needs, and to develop empathy.

Teachers at Fort Hill do not use time outs as a strategy to manage behavior. Children may be redirected and asked to make another choice or offered the opportunity to go to a quiet location to calm down or remove themselves from a stressful situation.

Staff do not, and are prohibited from, using any of the following strategies at Fort Hill:

  • spanking or other corporal punishment of children;
  • subjecting children to cruel or severe punishment such as humiliation, verbal or physical abuse, neglect or abusive treatment;
  • depriving children of meals or snacks;
  • confining children to a swing, high chair, crib, or any other piece of equipment for an extended period of time in lieu of supervision;
  • using methods such as force feeding children; and,
  • disciplining a child for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet; or forcing a child to remain in soiled clothing or forcing a child to remain on the toilet, or using any other unusual or excessive practices for toileting.