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Progressive Education

The progressive educational model has been in existence for well over 120 years, and it continues to guide our work every day at The Little School. It eschews the traditional approach of desks in rows with students listening while teachers recite about a topic of study. Instead, the progressive education model engages students as active participants in their education, drawing on their natural curiosity and developmental readiness to instill an enthusiasm for learning. More than just the 3 R's (reading, writing and arithmetic), progressive education tends to the growth of the whole student, addressing each individual's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development as well as their academic progress. The result is students who seek knowledge, have the social and emotional skills to engage in their community and actively participate in the world around them.

Principles of a Progressive School

(from the Progressive Education Network website)

Education must ...

  • amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience and intellect to create a more equitable, just and sustainable world.
  • encourage the active participation of students in their learning, in their communities and in the world.
  • respond to the developmental needs of students, and focus on their social, emotional, intellectual, cognitive, cultural and physical development.
  • honor and nurture students’ natural curiosity and innate desire to learn, fostering internal motivation and the discovery of passion and purpose.
  • emerge from the interests, experiences, goals and needs of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference.
  • foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships between students, educators, parents/guardians and the community.


"In progressive education, students do not have to change how they learn. Teachers adapt to students, instead of students adapting to the teaching method in place. Students can learn based on their interests and strengths...Progressive education best fits me personally, and that is why I love The Little School so much." – Daniel P., Outgrower 2016