The Little School

Children learn best when their needs, skills and interests drive the learning activities.
Our responsive instructional approach challenges students to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally within a developmentally appropriate framework. The Little School is a model for child-centered education that responds to individual developmental time tables and learning styles, nurtures the development of the whole child, and preserves and supports children`s natural sense of wonder and curiosity.

Top Placements

The Little School places among the top 20% of private schools in Washington for:

School Overview

School Membership(s)School Assoc.National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools
Religious AffiliationNonsectarian
Grades OfferedGrades Prekindergarten-5
Year Founded1959

Student Body

Total Students170 students
Student Body TypeCo-ed
% Students of Color
State avg.: 24%

Academics and Faculty

Total Classroom Teachers13 teachers
Student : Teacher Ratio13:1
National avg.: 13:1
% Faculty w/Advanced Degree
Average Class Size9 students
List of Courses OfferedLink to List of Courses
Classroom Dress CodeCasual

Finances and Admission

Admission DeadlineJan. 14 / Feb. 15 / rolling
Yearly Tuition Cost$26,500
Tuition NotesHalf-day student tuition is $16,500 with very limited spots available. Financial assistance is available.
% on Financial Aid
Average Financial Aid Grant$16,000
Acceptance Rate
National avg.: 85%
Admissions DirectorRegan Wensnahan

School Notes

  • The work of childhood is to grow. In size, knowledge, confidence, empathy-in every dimension, all the time. Each child brings his or her own individual strengths to that journey and each advances at his or her own pace. Some children are more social, some are early readers; some love to build, some love to sing, but there are seeds of great potential in all of them.
  • Nestled in 12.5 acres of woods and meadows in Bellevue, The Little School provides a natural setting for our community of students and educators to nurture that potential while exploring the wider world. We don`t sort and measure our students against one another, but provide a safe environment to build upon the inherent strengths of each child and support them as they expand their knowledge, build their skills, and deepen their empathy.
  • Because we are "little," each student knows and is known by the whole community, and children here learn to develop the interpersonal skills and confidence to advocate for themselves and for others. That commitment to community includes advocacy and care for our surroundings as well. The classroom extends to the outdoors, providing plenty of chances for children to appreciate the beauty and importance of caring for the natural world.
  • Over 60 years ago, Dr. Eleanor Siegl founded The Little School as a place to "take childhood seriously." She knew how important primary and elementary school are to becoming confident, thoughtful learners prepared for Middle School and, more importantly, the rest of their lives. Today, the tradition of Northwest progressive education that she pioneered lives on at The Little School - Where Big Futures Begin.

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School Reviews

  5.00 out of 5  (8 reviews)
My son has attended The Little School for 3 years (2nd-5th) and I really can't say enough about this incredible school community! He was warmly welcomed into the school from the first day and has known that he is truly a valuable member of his learning community every day since. The small class sizes, outdoor learning opportunities, progressive educational model and continuous social, emotional learning have come together to create the best learning environment possible for my son. He is excited to go to school each day, and I feel so confident in the teachers and staff to guide him as he prepares for his next steps into middle school.
- Posted by
This is our family's first year at The Little School, and we have had a wonderful experience so far. My son is in third grade, and his transition from his old school has been much easier than I expected. The small classes and attentive teachers and staff make the school an inclusive environment to a diverse range of kids. One thing that really sold us on TLS aside from the curriculum was the beautifully forested campus. Students learn in nature and have opportunities to build forts, climb into tree houses, and observe native plants and animals. We've found the academics very strong, and taught in ways that engage our son and build a true understanding of math, reading, and science concepts that allow him to build on his knowledge and skills to the best of his ability. Social Emotional Learning is integrated into every aspect of the school and the growth of my son has shown in that regard since he started at TLS has impressed my husband and me. We consider ourselves lucky that we found TLS!
- Posted by
The Little School (TLS) is the BEST pre-K through 5th grade school in the Puget Sound region. This school is accepting of the individuality of each student, and is passionate about creating a learning environment that focuses as much on social-emotional learning (SEL) as on traditional academics. Neurodiversity and learning differences are celebrated and welcomed. The word "inclusion" is central to the school's ethos. Many schools talk up SEL nowadays -- TLS has been a pioneer in SEL and progressive education for 60 years! In other words, they helped create the concept of SEL and are ahead of the curve on it, not trying to catch up to this "trend." If you want your child to become a better citizen and to learn how to navigate complex social environments, learn to think critically, and not be burdened by tests and homework that have not been proven to be beneficial to early childhood education, TLS is the best choice for your family. My only guilt in sending my kids to TLS is that I feel every child should have the opportunity to go to a school such at TLS.
- Posted by
I went to this school as a child when Eleanor Seigl was in charge. I think it was in 1960 or 1961. Due to their humanity, excellent teaching I managed to survive over the years as a person with dyslexia and rhe after effects of child abuse. My teachers were Toby Burton and Eve Smith and I may have been in one of the first classes they had when they first started out. If you have children, don`t hesitate to send them there. Best school I ever attended.
- Posted by
After an uninspiring year at our local (highly ranked) elementary school, we decided to find a school that our kids wouldn`t dread going to each day, and found The Little School. Fast forward five years, and we not only have our oldest still at The Little School, but our younger kids go there as well-.and they all love school. Our nine-year-old can`t wait to tell us what he did at school each day! Because of the small classes, the teachers and staff members get to know each child well and can support and challenge each kid at an appropriate level. There is also a strong sense of community, which is fostered by everything from all school events, to playing after school on the big field, to class get-togethers. The administration is extremely approachable and willing to meet and listen to parents. We`ve found that overall the teachers at TLS are excellent, though each come to the classroom with differing perspectives and styles. The school encourages kids to grow not only academically, but puts a lot of focus on social learning and fosters acceptance, team work, empathy, self-advocacy, confidence, and problem solving. As our oldest child is about to outgrow TLS and move on to middle school, we feel she has been well prepared for future success.
- Posted by
My son has attended The Little School since he was three years old. He's now 10 and nearing the end of his time there, and we couldn't have been happier with his preschool and grade school experience. The warm, caring teachers and staff truly know him (and us) as individuals. Everyone there is so invested in helping the kids grow and learn and become the people they are meant to be. My son who is slow to warm up to new situations and has had a hard time speaking up, opens up year over year with the support and encouragement he receives at TLS. Academically, the integrated approach the teachers take is really fascinating and inspires him. He's gotten plenty of exposure to hands on math and science projects and reading and writing stories and essays for language arts, and he enjoys the music (ukulele) and movement classes too. The extended day program and enrichment classes after school are also well thought out and fun - he really looks forward to his time with friends after school. Personally, the part of school I love the most is the parent community and how it works with the school. I love helping out in the classroom, on field trips, with parent association events, and with the staff and faculty on projects. There are many ways to get involved in your kids'' education and in the school community, no matter how much time you have to help out.
- Posted by
My child will soon graduate from high school and so I''ve been reflecting on her education up until this point. She attended TLS from K-5 and it was a most wonderful, formative experience that has had a long-lasting impact. I''ve been able to observe for myself the long-term positive effects of attending a school where the emphasis is on the process of being a learner and risk-taker, rather than on being motivated by grades or other externals. This ability to focus on the desire to learn has served her well both in school and extracurriculars. The other area where I''ve seen a notable impact is in respect for others. At TLS respect went in both directions - it wasn't about age or status or power. The multi-age classrooms helped students see one another as well-rounded people with many facets, and the ways teachers fostered (rather than dictated) learning meant that my daughter never viewed teachers in an oppositional way. They were always there to support her, so the idea of disregarding or being disrespectful to a teacher was completely alien to her (and really shocking when she first observed it after arriving at her mainstream public high school). Similarly the idea of looking down upon schoolmates because they''re in a different grade simply made no sense to her. This grounding in self-regulation and healthy human interactions is what I value most from her TLS education - and it's something that will continue to serve her well in college and future employment. As a side note, just the other day she commented wistfully on how little time she gets to be outdoors during the week since leaving TLS - how much she valued having regular outdoor time in the woods and what a change it is to be stuck indoors all day long. TLS is a school that forces you to shift your perspective a bit - and in doing so, it opens up possibilities that go far beyond the narrow, nitty-gritty emphasis on this or that specific learning outcome that parents sometimes focus on when children are young (who is reading at what level, etc.). Ultimately I''ve seen that what matters is that each child's innate curiosity and thirst for learning are protected and nurtured because it is those drives that lead to mastery in any subject area.
- Posted by
My kids have been students at The Little School for several years. I love the small class sizes, which have given my kids the opportunity to be truly known by teachers and staff. Teachers can (and do) tailor the curriculum to the needs and interests of their students. When a class is fascinated by a particular topic (e.g. space, dinosaurs, Egypt), the teacher uses that interest as a way to explore all sorts of subjects (e.g. math, reading, science, art, music). Since the kids care about the theme of the lessons, they spend more time on and are more invested in their lessons than I've seen in other elementary-aged kids. Teachers are very responsive to the needs of the individual kids in their classes. Lessons are taught in many different ways - with conversation, exploration, and movement to name a few. Classrooms are set up in a way that allows kids to have some autonomy and take ownership of their learning. I'm continually impressed by the depth of caring and intentionality evident in every aspect of The Little School. My kids have had the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment that nurtures their inherent love of learning. I'm grateful for our years as a TLS family.
- Posted by

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Did You Know?
The average private school tuition in Bellevue, WA is $14,942 for elementary schools (read more about average private school tuition across the country).
The average acceptance rate in Bellevue, WA is 79% (read more about average acceptance rates across the country).