The mission of Boston Outdoor Preschool Network is to provide programs that meet the developmental needs of the whole child while initiating them into a lifelong relationship with the natural world.
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 education.
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 to open the first BOPN class at the Arnold Arboretum in September 2019. BOPN arose out of our mutual desire to provide a joyfully muddy childhood fostering curiosity, movement, art, science, and connection with nature and each other.
After a joyful first year outdoors at the Arboretum, we opened a new program at Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Wellesley) in September 2020.
Moving forward, we seek to collaborate with public elementary schools to start "Forest Fridays" inspired by those in Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as afterschool programming. Please reach out if you'd like to exchange ideas.