Mission & Philosophy

Mission & Philosophy


Apple Orchard School focuses on the growth of the whole child through a play-based, creative, nature-focused curriculum. We promote this growth through a warm, engaging, and stimulating environment rooted in deep caring, and trusting relationships among teachers, children, and families.

Land Acknowledgement


We believe preschool children learn best through hands-on exploration and play, which is at the core of our curriculum. Play develops qualities such as empathy, flexibility, communication and capacity to collaborate which children need to lead happy, fulfilled lives.

Play is a primary learning path at Apple Orchard School, and our unique farm environment provides unlimited opportunities for skills learned through play to be applied to classroom foundational learning. At this age, we believe that sitting and having a child count blocks doesn’t compare to jumping from stump to stump while counting or noticing how many ducks are on a pond one day compared to the next. We want to capitalize on what engages children at this age so that they are excited and interested in learning.

We use the farm around us because there is a direct and positive correlation between contact with nature, imaginative play, and learning. In both our indoor and outdoor classrooms, we engage in storytelling, drama and frequent art projects, and participate in the exploration of building, estimating, measuring, planning, and problem solving. With nature at the core of our program we support our mission by using a blended approach from the evolving, well researched, early education best practices.

Inclusive Environment

Apple Orchard is committed to taking active steps toward creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community through work with consultants specializing in Anti-Bias Anti-Racist work in school communities and specifically within early education. Some of the ways that we are working to create a sense of belonging in our community while actively addressing racism and prejudice include:

  • Professional development focused on addressing racial injustice in the Early Education classroom.
  • Speakers and consultants who we recently worked with are Britt Hawthorne (Anti-Bias Anti-Racist educator), Philip McAdoo (Diversity and Inclusion consultant), Jennifer Bryan of Team Finch Consultants on gender identity, and John D’Auria of Teachers21 on managing challenging conversations.
  • All School Reading: AO faculty this summer are reading The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, Don’t Look Away, Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms by Iheoma Irkuka et al, edited by Ann Pelo. During the academic year, teachers incorporate ideas and discussion topics from these books.
  • Regular consultation of websites and resources such as embracerace.org, Teaching Tolerance | Diversity, Equity and Justice, britthawthorne.com, National Association of Independent Schools.
  • Bunker Hill Community College Teacher Training We have partnered with Bunker Hill to attract students working on their undergraduate degrees in education and psychology to join our teaching team for a 12 week practicum. The opportunity to be hired as a member of our teaching team upon graduation is possible.
  • Brookline Early Education Program Partnership We provide full scholarship for our afternoon Sandwich Club Program for up to 4 Brookline Preschoolers who are identified as benefiting from our outdoor curriculum.
  • Faculty Affinity Groups create space for faculty to gather and support one another in the work of addressing racism, prejudice, and stereotypes, both personally as well as in the work of creating an Anti-Racist curriculum.
  • Enhancement of classroom materials We include multicultural dolls, toys, and books. Every classroom has a designated Family Board with a display of photographs of student and teacher families which is displayed, affirmed, and referenced throughout the year.

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Apple Orchard is committed to creating a diverse community of families, students, and faculty. We strive to ensure that everyone at Apple Orchard feels a sense of connection and belonging.

Apple Orchard School does not discriminate against children, teachers, or families on the basis of age, gender, race, color, sexual orientation, sexual identity, housing status, religion, cultural heritage, political beliefs, family status, or disability in the administration of its educational policies, employment practices, scholarship awards, or any other school sponsored program or activity.

To learn more about our program, philosophy, and curriculum, please download our Curriculum Guide below.

Mission & Philosophy
  • There is not a day that goes by when we don’t arrive at Apple Orchard and appreciate this gift we have been able to provide our children. Apple Orchard is truly a magical place, with amazing teachers and team who care so much about our children. Without the scholarship program, our family would not have this opportunity to introduce our children to education in such a special way. We are forever grateful.

    Former Parent
  • Receiving a scholarship for The Apple Orchard School has made it possible for my child to be a part of such a wondrous school. A school that does not feel like school, but feels like home. As a parent that has made a world of an impact on our family. When we count our blessings, we count Apple Orchard twice.

    Former Parent
  • “I am thrilled that we have been able to find a preschool for our daughter that elevates play and concrete activities over academic concerns. You don’t pretend to do things, but you really do them. I love it that the kids pick vegetables, collect eggs, and cook snacks together. I think it’s nothing short of fabulous that the children got to watch ducks raised from eggs and set free on the pond.”

    Former Parent
  • “Apple Orchard is truly a model school, the best place on the planet to send your child to jumpstart his or her education.”

    Current Parent
  • “The grounds are like being in another, simpler world.  During a parent visit, taking a winter walk, I could see the joy in the children’s faces as they skipped, ran, got distracted, picked up a stick or rock, and then continued on their way.  How often do you see a child skip these days?  You do at AO!”

    Former Parent
  • “The staff is genuine, friendly, exceptionally knowledgeable, and competent.  They know your child’s habits, likes, dislikes, anything you can think of, and challenge them in a way that incorporates the natural world into the learning plan.”

    Former Parent