Welcome to BOPN!

We are an inspired team of teachers with experience in public, private, and Montessori schools, who are thrilled to give your child the opportunity to play, learn, and thrive outdoors!  Our programs spark curiosity, discovery, and a strong connection with nature.  


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Boston Outdoor Preschool Network is committed to place-based learning and play.

 The ever-changing landscape of the Arnold Arboretum provides endless opportunities to spark children's curiosity, discovery, and learning.  

At BOPN we build community while valuing each child’s unique experiences and needs.



to build joyful communities of children and teachers connected to each other and their outdoor environments through discovery and play


Why Outdoors?

Started in Europe, nature-immersive preschools have been shown to support physical and mental health, creativity, problem-solving, cooperation, academic performance, social skills, and executive function.  BOPN is inspired by forest kindergartens in Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States.  


Our goals extend far beyond the preschool years.  Children who experience the joy and wonder of nature during their early years become adults who care about protecting our environment locally and globally.


Our Story

Sarah Besse and Shela Sinelien met in 2016 while in graduate school for Early Childhood Education at Wheelock College.  As educators in the public schools, they noticed that their preschool children felt most alive when engaging with the natural world and their local community.  They began to dream about expanding opportunities for nature-based and place-based education in Boston.  Around the same time, Sara Murray began taking her students outside to learn and play.  As a first grade teacher at an independent school, she started the Forest Explorers after-school club; during summers, she taught at nature-based camps.  Happily, we found each other and joined forces.  BOPN arose out of our mutual desire to provide a joyfully muddy childhood filled with curiosity, investigations, science, art, and movement in the great outdoors.

Guiding principles

  • We place equal value on the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth of students.

  • We believe that extended time in nature fosters an intimate, personal and deep connection to the natural world. 

  • We use an inquiry-based approach to combine early childhood and environmental education.  We encourage problem-solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas.

  • We build community.  Relationships are an important context through which children and communities develop and learn.

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Please note that while BOPN has a friendly relationship with the Arboretum, we are separate organizations and the Arboretum is not involved with organizing or operating BOPN's programs.

Nondiscrimination statement:

Boston Outdoor Preschool Network admits students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at BOPN and does not discriminate on the basis of race in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and other school-administered programs.