Academics

Early Childhood

Premier Preschool and Kindergarten in Indianapolis

The Orchard School's nationally recognized Early Childhood program includes Preschool & Kindergarten classrooms. Both grades have two highly-qualified lead teachers in each class. Our Early Childhood grade-level teams also include specialist teachers for music, art (KG only), science and Spanish. Our programs utilize spaces in and around our 43-acre wooded campus as both outdoor classrooms and unstructured play areas all year round. The emphasis of a nature-based approach to Early Childhood supports the curricular and social-emotional goals for our students.
 
Here, you can expect something unique for your child. An Orchard education stands out because of the partnerships that form between students and their teachers. Our Preschool and Kindergarten teachers understand that a student’s success depends greatly on their ability to connect to the adults around them. Feeling safe, understood, and challenged provides a foundation for students to be successful and contributing members of their community.

WE OFFER TWO OPTIONS FOR THE PRESCHOOL PROGRAM:
 
  • 5-Day Full Day (8 AM until 3:20 PM)
    (serves ages three through five-year-olds)

  • 3-Day Full Day (8 AM until 3:20 PM)
    (serves three-year-olds)


List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • 5-Day Preschool Program


    The 5-Day program is the flagship preschool experience at The Orchard School. This program is structured to provide a child-centered, emergent curriculum with full exposure to hands-on experiential learning using a nature-based approach.

    Each classroom has two lead teachers who work together to create a classroom community that values diversity, equity and inclusion. Our classroom environments encourage a joy of learning by exploration through play and incorporate multiple programs including science, Spanish, music, and PE throughout the school week.

    Students spend class time exploring outside across our 43-acre wooded campus and often utilize outdoor classrooms for projects and explorations. Classrooms are blended across chronological and developmental ages for a multiage program. Snacks, rest time, and a hot lunch option are provided.

    The 5-Day preschool program runs Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. and serves ages three through five-year-olds. 




  • 3-Day Preschool Program


    The 3-Day program operates on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and is perfect for families looking for a part-time preschool experience for their three-year-old.

    From 8:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., our youngest Owls have opportunities to learn, explore, and play outside across our entire campus. Our classroom communities value diversity, equity and inclusion by encouraging our youngest students to share their opinions and observations. The classroom environments encourage a joy of learning by exploration through play and exposure to multiple programs including science, Spanish, music, and PE throughout their projects.

    Students spend class time exploring outside across our 43-acre wooded campus and often utilize outdoor classrooms for projects and explorations. Rest time, snacks. and a hot lunch option are available all three days.
  • Kindergarten


    Kindergarteners focus on who they are and what makes them special. They discover how they learn by spending lots of time outdoors exploring and using nature as a teacher. Every class is taught by two lead teachers, allowing more time for small group and one-on-one instruction. Kindergarteners experience more academic challenges inside the context of play-based learning. Children focus on themes in math, literacy, science, Spanish and music while growing in their social development.

    Quick overview of elements explored in the Kindergarten classroom:

    Bridges MathBridges in Mathematics is a comprehensive kindergarten through fifth grade curriculum that equips teachers to fully implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in a manner that is rigorous, coherent, engaging and accessible to all learners.

    Writer's WorkshopStudents are guided through a wide variety of writing lessons which include formal instruction, one-on-one teacher conferencing, group lessons and guided writing communities.

    Literacy A significant and exciting aspect of kindergarten literacy is the exploration of the relationship between oral language and written language as children develop an increasing awareness of the constructs of writing and foundational skills for reading.

    Math/Science Kindergarten provides direct learning opportunities and math lessons involving mathematical thinking and problem solving. Scientific investigation including inquiry, physical and earth sciences and the process of investigation are stressed.

    Language/Literacy While developing skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing, students learn to construct meaning, make connections to their own lives and gradually begin to critically analyze and interpret what they hear, observe and read.

    It's very common at Orchard to see all of these subjects being explored throughout our 43-acre wooded campus. 

    Children need to be five-years-old by August 31st to start the kindergarten program. Kindergarten is a 5-Day full day program. Before care begins at 7:00 AM and after care runs from 3:20 - 6:00 PM.

  • Early Childhood Curriculum Map

    From Director of Early Childhood and Elementary School Director, Hal Schwartz: What you will see on the webpage today is a snapshot of our EC and ES academic program. Since learning is a dynamic and fluid process, this document is also intended to be dynamic and fluid. What we value most about progressive education is that teachers have the freedom and flexibility to adapt their instruction to the needs and passions of their students, and this document has been written with the value of responsive teaching in mind.

    Click here to start your journey through the EC and ES curriculum map!
  • Diversity and Identity


    The Orchard School is an inclusive community deliberately rich with diversity. We strive to maintain a safe and welcoming environment that encourages courageous conversations about differences in beliefs, identities and perspectives.

    One of our diversity goals is to help all members of the community overcome a sense of “otherness” and reserve judgment when encountering something unfamiliar and new. Therefore, Orchard teaches about race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, family structures, physical differences, political and social values, culture, religion, abilities and learning styles in a developmentally appropriate manner that leads to appreciation and understanding of the variety of human experiences.

    A healthy sense of identity at a young age helps students to understand and feel good about themselves and others. It also helps them celebrate and not fear what makes each person different and unique.
  • Communication with Parents


    Parent communication is an important part of creating a connection that supports a play-based and developmentally appropriate practice. When teachers and parents listen and reflect together about a child’s strengths and goals, it allows learning to be authentic and reflect a child’s entire experience. We know that unique learning also happens outside of school, that’s why communicating with families is a priority to help complete a portrait of each student at Orchard.

    Multiage Preschool and Kindergarten use an app called SeeSaw to keep parents updated, sometimes in real time, on their child's learning experience. Parents are able to "like" and comment on benchmark updates, receive immediate notifications, as well as download any pictures from the app. SeeSaw provides a unique opportunity for parents to be partners during key learning moments, while making it easier to discuss daily happenings with their child.
  • Feature Articles

    Orchard Kindergarten Teachers Use Fairy Tales To Enhance Academics


    Click here to read more and scroll through the photos explaining how writing/literacy, science, engineering/mathematics, technology, and art are integrated into this impressive project.


    Orchard Preschool Students Debut Meaningful Identity Work After Year-Long Study


    Click here to read how the study of identity is a major focus in all preschool classrooms at The Orchard School. Teachers believe that by having these important discussions about identity at such an early age, children will discover the true meaning of diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe this progressive education tenet is the key to make the world a better place.
  • Feature Videos

    Orchard Preschool Students Create Powerful Identity Wall




    Director of Early Childhood and Elementary School Hal Schwartz explains the approach for our young learners in Multiage Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary School




    Experience The Best In Progressive Education

Early Childhood Highlights

Visits & Tours


In-Person Tours
A limit of two guests will be paired with an admissions representative and masks are mandatory. Please email Majella Scheer ( mscheer@orchard.org ) or call 317-713-5700 to schedule your tour today. We look forward to showing you our beautiful, 43-acre wooded campus! 

Virtual Tour:
Enjoy this VIRTUAL TOUR of Orchard!

For the safety of our students, please bring your driver's license with you in order to check in and tour the campus. Tours last approximately one hour. We look forward to seeing you!