Newcomer's Handbook Seattle

Childcare and Education

One of the most challenging and overwhelming tasks parents face when moving to a new area is finding good childcare and/or schools for their kids. While the process is not an easy one, with time and effort it is possible to find what is best for your children, whether it be in-home or on-site daycare, an after-school program, or a good public or private school. In addition, the possibilities presented by homeschooling and online schools are addressed in this chapter. The wide variety of opportunities available for higher education is also presented. Of course the keys to success in all of these areas are research and persistence.Note: mention in this book of a particular childcare organization or business is not an endorsement. We recommend that you scrutinize any persons or organizations before entrusting your youngster(s) to them.



Often, the best advice when looking for childcare is to ask for referrals from friends or co-workers. For newcomers who may be lacking such resources, a good place to start is the Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network, 800-446-1114, This private, nonprofit agency will send you a packet of age-specific childcare, health, and parenting information, and tell you about a local referral program in your area. In the city of Seattle, that program is Child Care Resources, 206-329-5544, Based on your criteria, Child Care Resources will give you a list of providers from its database of more than 2,000 facilities in King County. While referrals are for state-licensed facilities, be sure to visit prospective sites and interview caregivers, regardless of any recommendations you may receive about an organization. Many local employers offer a benefits package that includes a similar service; check with your place of work for details.

Childcare in Washington is regulated by the state Department of Early Learning (DEL) (formerly the Division of Child Care & Early Learning), The agency offers several helpful publications on its website, including “You Have a Choice! A Guide to Finding Quality Child Care.” The DEL is responsible for licensing more than 7,400 childcare homes and centers in King County. Licensers process background checks, inspect and monitor facilities, investigate complaints, and take corrective action when necessary. A bill passed in 2007 requires the DEL website to list the names of facilities under investigation for licensing violations. Parents can visit the DEL’s online Licensed Care Information System (LCIS) to learn about the licensing history of a childcare provider. Despite such improvements, a shortage of trained teachers and aides in King County means that diligent and thorough research is in order when looking for childcare.

In Washington, a license is required for anyone paid to care for children on a regular basis (unless the children are related to the caregiver). The state imposes minimum licensing requirements for three different types of childcare facilities: licensed childcare centers; licensed school age centers; and licensed family homes.

  • A childcare center is a facility that provides regularly scheduled care for a group of children age one month through age 12.
  • A school age center is a program operating in a facility other than a private residence, accountable for school age children when school is not in session. The program must provide adult-supervised care and a variety of developmentally appropriate activities.
  • A licensed family home is a facility in the family residence of the licensee that provides regularly scheduled care for 12 or fewer children from birth to age 11.

Before receiving a license from the DEL, a prospective daycare provider must have a business license, undergo a criminal history background check, attend a first aid/CPR class that includes infant/child CPR and pediatric first aid, attend an HIV/AIDS/bloodborne pathogens training class, and pass a state licensing inspection at the place of business. A law passed in 2005 requires all licensed childcare providers to purchase liability insurance. Family home providers can opt out of this requirement, but they must notify parents in writing that they do not have insurance. You can check the license status of your childcare provider through the DEL website at, or call 866-48-CHECK.

The Service Employees International (SEIU) Local #925, the local union for childcare workers, may be able to offer some help in your search for good childcare. The SEIU district office is located at 1914 N 34th St, Ste 100. Call 206-322-3010 or go to for more information.

  • Child Care Resources, 206-329-1011st,
  • City of Seattle/North King County Child Care Information and Referral, 206-329-5544, 206-461-4571 (TTY)
  • East King County Child Care Referral Line, 206-329-5544
  • South King County Child Care Referral Line, 206-329-5544

What to Look for in Daycare

When searching for the best place for your child, be sure to visit prospective daycare providers—preferably unannounced. In general, look for a safe environment and caring attitude. Check that the kitchen, toys, and furniture are clean and safe. Observe the other kids at the center. Do they seem happy? Are they well behaved? Are the teacher/child ratios acceptable? Ask for the telephone numbers of other parents who use the service and talk to them before committing. It’s a good idea to request a daily schedule—look for both active and quiet time, and age-appropriate activities. In the winter months, weather in Seattle doesn’t allow for a lot of outdoor activities, but make sure that sports, games, and field trips are still included in the curriculum.

Keep in mind that a license does not guarantee the service of the quality you may want. If you think a provider might be acceptable, call the Licensed Child Care Information System at 866-48-CHECK to determine their licensing status, and call on parent referrals.

Online Resources—Daycare

The state Department of Early Learning suggests the following child-related online resources:

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission,
  • DSHS Children’s Administration,
  • National Association of Childcare Professionals,
  • Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction,


A number of agencies match families with nannies. Although these services tend to be pricey, some include background checks or psychological testing during the applicant screening process. Nannies are not licensed by the state, and screening processes vary among agencies, so you may want to ask for interview specifics at the various agencies. That said, a nanny can be a wonderful addition to your family. Whether you’re employed outside your home or simply need some assistance while working at home, a considerate and hard-working nanny may be the best option for your childcare needs. Area nanny services include:

Be sure to check all references before hiring a nanny. These companies offer pre-employment screening services, and can provide criminal background checks, driving records, and credit reports:

For those hiring a nanny without an agency, there are certain taxes that must be paid: Social Security and Medicare, and possibly unemployment. For assistance with such issues, check the Nanitax website,, or call them at 800-NANITAX.

Au Pairs

If you’d like the convenience of a nanny at a considerably lower cost, or if you’re simply interested in a cultural exchange, consider the services of an au pair. Young women (and a few men), usually from Europe, provide a year of childcare and light housekeeping in exchange for airfare, room and board, and a small stipend. Au pairs work up to 45 hours a week, and often go to school or sightsee during their time off.

It is a good program for those families and au pairs who understand the trade-offs of the system. Nevertheless, you may want to confirm that you and the au pair have mutual expectations for your year together. The au pair will be in a foreign country and interested in traveling and meeting people her age. While most agencies outline specific responsibilities, make sure the au pair understands what is expected during her year of employment; your au pair may not have fully considered how restricted her free time will be. Additionally, some parents may have unrealistic expectations of an au pair, assuming that she will be a combination nanny, babysitter, and full-time housekeeper, with few social interests. That said, if you and your au pair come to an agreement early in the relationship, and follow the guidelines detailed by the agency, most likely you will be very pleased with the au pair experience.

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is responsible for authorizing the organizations that conduct au pair exchange programs. For answers to frequently asked questions, visit The following organizations administer the au pair program:


If you haven’t found a reliable babysitter in your neighborhood, or the one you found just called and cancelled, the following companies offer babysitting services. Be prepared to pay more for immediate response.

Child Safety

Numerous public agencies, private organizations, and hospitals offer resources to help keep your kids safe. The Seattle Public Library provides parents and teachers with a list of Internet safety organizations on its website (search: Internet safety). Public Health of Seattle & King County will deliver health and safety news alerts via e-mail; to subscribe, visit The Seattle Fire Department offers a program for children called Fire Stoppers—call 206-386-1338 for details. Several hospitals offer infant and child CPR programs, including Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, 206-987-2000,, and Swedish Medical Center, 206-215-3338,


Seattle-Public Schools (K–12)

Over the years, public schools in Seattle have faced a series of serious problems, approaching crisis level, including a huge budget deficit, low enrollment and graduation rates, and high dropout rates. The most recent upheaval in the school district was the 2011 financial scandal that led to the ousting of Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. During what some called “the worst state budget crisis in 40 years,” $32 million in funding to the District had to be cut during the 2009–2010 academic year, and in 2011 the District faced a gap of $35 million more. These deficits necessitated school closures, reductions in staffing and school programs, mandatory work furloughs for teachers, and other painful cost-cutting measures.

Although the news is grim, there are a few bright spots. The graduation rate (according to the Washington State Report Card) has improved considerably in recent years, and is currently at 73.5%, slightly higher than the national rate of 72%, and the dropout rate has dropped to 5.1%; the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), a legacy of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education policy, was replaced in 2009 with the more efficient Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), issued to public students in grades 3–8, and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). (Private school students and those who have been homeschooled are exempt from state testing.) The MSP exams measure students’ progress in reading, writing, math, and science. Online versions of these tests are being phased in. High school students who do not take and pass a state assessment in reading and writing will not graduate.

In 1995 Seattle voters approved a levy called Building Excellence, or BEX, to modernize or replace Seattle’s aging school buildings, a third of which were more than a half-century old. Among the first schools to benefit from the initial phase of this ambitious project, the K–8 African American Academy moved into a new $24-million facility on Beacon Hill in the fall of 2000. The three-story building houses a science lab, photo darkroom, art room, music room, gymnasium, and 90-seat lecture hall.

Another development was the addition of the Center School (, the district’s newest high school, and the only school located in downtown Seattle. The small high school enjoys a home on the grounds of the Seattle Center, where seniors can take advantage of internships. While core academics are strong and technology is used throughout the curriculum, the school’s focus is on the arts. All electives are based on the arts, and portfolios are a graduation requirement.

The BEX project has three phases, with BEX III, a $490-million project, scheduled for completion in 2012. As a result of BEX III, the newly renovated Hamilton International Middle School and Chief Sealth High School opened their doors to students in the fall of 2010.

Other notable public school programs include TOPS (, a K–8 program known for its strong parent involvement and state-of-the-art school building, and Summit (, Seattle’s only K–12 school, which prides itself on utilizing the cross-age learning opportunities that arise from having kids of all ages in the same building.

For younger students, Seattle Public Schools offers both half-day and full-day kindergarten. There is a huge demand for full-day programs, and some are fee-based. Check with area schools for more information. The Seattle school district also offers Montessori programs at three schools—Graham Hill Elementary (, Daniel Bagley Elementary (, and Leschi Elementary ( (See below for a list of private Montessori programs.)

For more information about these schools and to see which schools are being closed or moved, go to

Enrollment—Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle Public Schools enrollment process has a complicated and controversial history. The old system did not allow voluntary school selection and involved busing large numbers of students throughout the city to improve the racial balance at each school. While busing successfully integrated the schools, it also took its toll on the overall well-being of the public school community. With bus rides as much as 90 minutes each way, many students found it difficult to get to and from school, let alone participate in after-school sports and activities. With such inconveniences, many who could afford to chose private schools instead.

The current selection process, which the school district began phasing in during the 2011–2012 school year, has the advantage of simplicity. According to the New Student Assignment Plan (NSAP) adopted in 2009, each student shall have the opportunity to attend elementary, middle, or high school in a designated attendance area, determined by the student’s home address. “Feeder patterns” channel elementary students toward middle schools in the same general geographic area; no feeder patterns exist from middle to high school, however. If the school in student’s attendance area is not equipped to address her or his needs (for special education, bilingual, or advanced learning), as determined by the school district, the student will be assigned to another school with the appropriate services. Families may apply to a school in a different attendance area, or to one that does not have an attendance area (called an “option” school), with no guarantee of admission. Assignment to these schools is based on an open application process; if there are more applicants than available spaces, certain tiebreakers apply, such as having a sibling who attends that school. Students who apply to a different school of choice will be added to a waiting list if no space is available.

To enroll your child in Seattle Public Schools, you must obtain a registration form by visiting one of the enrollment service centers or by calling 206-252-0760. You can also download the application from the district’s website at The centers can provide you with your child’s designated attendance area. The Open Enrollment period for school registration varies according to school year: generally it’s some time in February for elementary, and in March for middle and high schools. Families can avoid long lines during the spring and summer enrollment periods, and receive their school assignment notification early in the year, by enrolling prior to January 31. Early Enrollment is only for students registering at their attendance area school. Students who wish to attend another school of choice must apply during the Open Enrollment period.

To complete the registration process, you must bring a parent or guardian’s photo ID, plus two proofs of address, such as a rent receipt, driver’s license, or preprinted check, and your child’s immunization records, called a Certificate of Immunization Status (CIS).

  • Bilingual Family Center, Aki Kurose Middle School, 3928 S Graham St, Rm 104, 206-252-7750
  • John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd Ave S, 206-252-0760
  • North Enrollment Service Center, Wilson Pacific Bldg, 1330 N 90th St, 206-252-4765
  • South Enrollment Service Center, Columbia Annex Bldg, 3100 S Alaska St, 206-252-6800

All applications received before the period deadline are processed together and each carries equal weight. After the regular enrollment period ends, applications are processed on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Some schools fill up quickly based on special programs or popularity; others simply have smaller buildings and cannot accommodate as many students. Alternative schools and classes, such as honors, special education, multicultural or bilingual programs, often have additional requirements that restrict enrollment.

An important element of the registration program is the appeals process. If your child does not receive his/her first-choice school, you may appeal to the school district and, if necessary, request a hearing before the Student Assignment Appeals Board. It is always worth taking this step if you are truly dissatisfied with your child’s school assignment. Grounds for appeal include medical or psychological concerns, extreme hardship, and district failure to follow district guidelines.

While the Enrollment Service Centers can provide information on any of the Seattle Public Schools, another excellent resource for statistics and information on schools and programs is the State Report Card of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction ( Other websites with useful school information and comparisons include and In addition, you may want to contact SchoolMatch in Westerville, Ohio, to request its report on Seattle schools. The report, which costs $34, will include information on student-teacher ratios, test scores, and even property values in your chosen neighborhood.

All of the abovementioned resources, as well as some other Seattle Public Schools resources, are listed here.

  • Advanced Learning, 206-252-0130
  • Appeals, 206-252-0586
  • Automated Enrollment Services Line, 206-252-0410
  • Bilingual Services, 206-252-7750
  • SchoolMatch, 800-992-5323, 614-890-1573,
  • Seattle Public Schools, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, WA 98124-1165, 206-252-0010,
  • Special Education Services, 206-252-0055
  • Transportation Services, 206-252-0900
  • Wait List Automated Info Line, 206-252-0212

Surrounding Communities

For information on public schools outside the city of Seattle, contact your local school district, or visit its website. A selection of districts is listed here:

  • Auburn School District, 915 4th St NE, Auburn, WA 98002, 253-931-4900,
  • Bellevue Public Schools, 12111 NE 1st St, Bellevue, WA 98005, 425-456-4000,
  • Bremerton School District, 134 N Marion Ave, Bremerton, WA 98132, 360-473-1000,
  • Edmonds School District, 20420 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036, 425-431-7000,
  • Everett Public Schools, 4730 Colby Ave, Everett, WA 98203, 425-385-4000,
  • Federal Way Public Schools, 31405 18th Ave S, Federal Way, WA 98003, 253-945-2000,
  • Highline Public Schools, 15675 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166, 206-433-0111,
  • Issaquah School District, 565 NW Holly St, Issaquah, WA 98027, 425-837-7000,
  • Kent School District, 12033 SE 256th St, Kent, WA 98030, 253-373-7000,
  • Lake Washington School District, 16250 NE 74th St, Redmond, WA 98052, 425-938-1200,
  • Mercer Island School District, 4160 86th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040, 206-236-3330,
  • Northshore School District, 3330 Monte Villa Pkwy, Bothell, WA 98021, 425-408-6000,
  • Renton School District, 300 SW 7th St, Renton, WA 98057, 425-204-2300,
  • Shoreline Public Schools, 18560 1st Ave NE, Shoreline, WA 98155, 206-393-6111,
  • Tacoma Public Schools, P.O. Box 1357, Tacoma, WA 98401-1357, 253-571-1000,
  • Tahoma School District, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley, WA 98038, 425-413-3400,
  • Tukwila School District, 4640 S 144th St, Tukwila, WA 98168, 206-901-8000,
  • Vashon Island School District, P.O. Box 547, Vashon, WA 98070-0547, 206-463-2121,

Private Schools

If you are considering a private school, the greater Seattle area offers a wide variety of options, many of which provide bus service. A few of the private schools in Seattle and its surrounding communities are listed here; check the Yellow Pages for more. Entrance requirements vary widely. Be sure to call or visit the school for more information.

  • Annie Wright School (P–12), 827 N Tacoma Ave, Tacoma, 253-272-2216,; situated on Commencement Bay, Annie Wright is a co-ed day school through grade 8 and an all-girls’ boarding/day school grades 9 through 12.
  • Bellevue Christian School (P–12), 1601 98th Ave NE, Clyde Hill, 425-454-4402,; with a comprehensive program that serves preschool through 12th-grade students, Bellevue Christian educates close to 1,200 children, and emphasizes academics with a Christ-centered curriculum.
  • Billings Middle School (6-8), 7217 Woodlawn Ave NE, 206-547-4614,; this independent middle school, which fosters independent thinking and public mindedness, has fewer than 100 students and a student-to-teacher ratio of 5 to 1.
  • Bishop Blanchet High School (9–12), 8200 Wallingford Ave N, 206-527-7711,; a Catholic college preparatory school, Bishop Blanchet sends approximately 99% of its graduates on to higher education. The north Seattle high school is a member of the Class AAA division of the Seattle Metro League.
  • Bush School (K–12), 3400 E Harrison St, 206-322-7978,; the oldest K–12 independent coed school in Seattle commands nine acres in the Madison Valley neighborhood. Emphasis is placed on experiential learning, with students working in groups to reach common goals.
  • Cascade Christian Schools (P–12), 815 21st St SE, Puyallup, 253-841-1776,, support early childhood centers and elementary schools in Puyallup and Tacoma, as well as Cascade Christian Junior/Senior High School in Puyallup.
  • Charles Wright Academy (K–12), 7723 Chambers Creek Rd W, Tacoma, 253-620-8300,, is located on 90 acres in suburban Tacoma. The school provides a challenging college-prep curriculum at all grade levels.
  • The Clearwater School (ages 4–19), 1510 196th St SE, Bothell, 425-489-2050,, is part of a national network of Sudbury Schools, modeled after the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. Students direct their own activities and engage in a participatory democracy.
  • Concordia Lutheran School (P–8), 7040 36th Ave NE, 206-525-7407,; owned and operated by the Lutheran School Association of Greater Seattle, Concordia offers a strong Christian atmosphere where children develop academically, socially, and physically.
  • Giddens School (P–5), 620 20th Ave S, 206-324-4847,, one of the most ethnically, economically, and socially diverse independent schools in the Northwest, combines its commitment to academic excellence with a focus on social justice.
  • Holy Family School (P–8), 505 17th St SE, Auburn, 253-833-8688; the philosophy of this Catholic school is that parents have the primary responsibility for their child’s education, and that the church, school, and community complement this role.
  • Holy Names Academy (9–12), 728 21st Ave E, 206-323-4272,, a Catholic college preparatory school for girls, is a four-time winner of the U.S. Department of Education’s blue ribbon of excellence. Athletes compete in the Class AAA division of the Seattle Metro League.
  • Islamic School of Seattle (P–6), 720 25th Ave, 206-329-5735,; founded in 1980, the Islamic School has since added an accredited Montessori preschool and a full-immersion Arabic program.
  • The Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle (P–8), 15749 NE 4th St, Bellevue, 425-460-0200,; the Jewish Day School provides a challenging curriculum of general and Jewish studies, along with enrichment opportunities.
  • King’s Schools (P–12), 19303 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, 206-289-7700; Crosspoint Academy (formerly King’s West) (P–12), 4012 Chico Way NW, Bremerton, 360-377-7700,; these schools serve Seattle and Kitsap families seeking a college preparatory program that emphasizes strong academics, positive discipline, and Christian faith.
  • Lakeside School (5–12), Middle School, 13510 1st Ave NE; Upper School, 14050 1st Ave NE, 206-368-3600,; this co-ed school enrolls about 800 students, with an average student to teacher ratio of 9 to 1, and an average class size of just 16 students. The school’s most famous alumni are Microsoft co-founders and Seattle residents Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
  • Meridian School (K–5), 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 206-632-7154,; located in the Wallingford neighborhood, Meridian School combines its academic curriculum with thematic studies like raising salmon or recreating a pioneer encampment.
  • The Northwest School (6–12), 1415 Summit Ave, 206-682-7309,, is a college preparatory day and boarding school that offers cross-disciplinary study in the humanities, sciences, and performing and fine arts.
  • O’Dea High School (9–12), 802 Terry Ave, 206-622-6596,, a Catholic college preparatory high school for boys situated on Seattle’s First Hill.
  • St. Edward (K–8), 4200 S Mead St, 206-725-1774,; Catholic values and church teachings permeate all aspects of the school community at St. Edward, where students are trained for leadership in the church and society.
  • St. Joseph School (K–8), 700 18th Ave E, 206-329-3260,, located on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the school’s mission is to create a faith-centered community that educates and inspires students to their God-given potential.  
  • Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAAS), (6–12), 1201 Union St, 206-323-6600,; a preparatory school in an urban environment that integrates the arts in its curriculum and emphasizes a global perspective.
  • Seattle Country Day School (K–8), 2619 4th Ave N, 206-284-6220,; this private school for gifted children on Queen Anne stresses student-centered, interdisciplinary learning.
  • Seattle Girls’ School (5–8), 2706 S Jackson St, 206-709-2228,; a middle school committed to racial and socioeconomic equality, which helps prepare girls to be community leaders through a challenging academic program that emphasizes real-world problem solving.
  • Seattle Jewish Community School (K–5), 12351 8th Ave NE, 206-522-5212,; at SJCS, girls and boys participate equally in all areas of academics and Jewish ritual. The school stresses parental involvement and a non-competitive environment.
  • Seattle Lutheran Schools, Hope Lutheran School (P–12), 4456 42nd Ave SW, 206-935-8500; and Seattle Lutheran High School (9–12), 4100 SW Genesee St, 206-937-7722;; in 2009 these two West Seattle Lutheran schools joined forces to better accomplish their mission of preparing students for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership.
  • Seattle Preparatory School (9–12), 2400 11th Ave E, 206-324-0400,, provides college preparatory instruction in the Jesuit tradition. Known for its athletic success, the school is a member of the Class AAA division of the Seattle Metro League.
  • Seattle Urban Academy (9–12), 3800 S Othello Ave, 206-723-0333,; this small Christian school specializes in meeting the needs of at-risk students, helping them earn full or partial credit toward their high school diploma. Ninety percent of SUA graduates go on to pursue a two- or four-year college degree.
  • Shoreline Christian School (P–12), 2400 NE 147th St, Shoreline, 206-364-7777,, is a multi-denominational Christian school that works in partnership with students’ families and their church.
  • Soundview School (P–8), 6515 196th St SW, Lynnwood, 425-778-8572,; an independent private school offering an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary and Middle Years Program. In 2001 Soundview added five acres to its campus, and built a separate middle school to accommodate the upper grades.
  • University Preparatory Academy (6–12), 8000 25th Ave NE, 206-525-2714,; with approximately 500 students, University Prep stresses small classes, a commitment to diversity, and a balanced curriculum. One hundred percent of the class of 2010 went on to attend college.

Montessori Schools

Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori theory of education in the early 1900s. The Montessori Foundation estimates that there are more than 4,000 schools in the United States that follow her strategies. For information about the Montessori philosophy, visit the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association’s website at, or call 800-550-PNMA. The following is a partial list of Montessori schools in Seattle:

Waldorf Schools

Waldorf education is based on the philosophy of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. For more information on the Waldorf method, visit the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America at The following is a list of Waldorf schools in Western Washington:

  • Bright Water School (P–8), 1501 10th Ave E, 206-624-6176,
  • Madrona School (P–8), 219 Madison Ave S, Bainbridge Island, 206-855-8041,
  • Seattle Waldorf School (P–12), 2728 NE 100th St (kindergarten and grade school), 4919 Woodlawn Ave N (kindergarten), 160 John St (high school), 206-524-5320,
  • Tacoma Waldorf School (P–5) 2710 N Madison St, Tacoma, 253-383-8711,; a middle school will be added in fall 2012.
  • Three Cedars School (P–8), 556 124th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-401-9874,


For a variety of reasons, homeschooling is attractive to many parents, and the state of Washington makes it fairly easy to choose that option. All you’ll need to do is file a Declaration of Intent with your local school district and be sure you meet the qualifications for homeschooling. To qualify you must teach only your own child(ren) and have completed one year, or 45 credits, of college. If you don’t have the college education you can be supervised by a qualified teacher for an hour a week, or complete a course in home-based instruction or be deemed qualified by your local school district superintendent. You will be required to have your children tested or assessed once a year and to meet the minimum hours for instruction, though how you construct those hours is up to you. You can request information and a forms packet from the Seattle School District’s Homeschool Resource Center by calling 206-252-4720, or download the Declaration of Intent from the website at The center also provides classes that homeschoolers can attend, a computer lab, library, gym and many other resources for support, encouragement and guidance for homeschooling families.

There are many homeschool support groups in the area with many different philosophies, as well as online sources of information. A few of these are listed here:

Online Schools

Once the sole domain of higher learning, online schools are slowly gaining ground at the high school, middle school, and even elementary school level. Some offer courses designed to supplement enrollment in a traditional school, or for homeschoolers, and some are completely online public schools offering valid high school diplomas. Depending on enrollment status and type of school, fees may be charged. There are no fees to attend public schools, even virtually.

  • Digital Learning Commons, 4507 University Way NE, Ste 204, Seattle, 206-616-9940,, grades K–12
  • Insight School of Washington, 12011 Bel-Red Rd, Bellevue, 866-800-0017,; grades 9–12
  • Internet Academy, 31455 28th Ave S, Federal Way, 253-945-2230,; grades K–12
  • iQ Academy Washington, Evergreen Public Schools, P.O. Box 8910, Vancouver, WA 98668-8910, 888-899-4792,, grades 6–12
  • Washington Virtual Academies, 1584 McNeil St, Ste 200, DuPont, 253-964-1068,; grades K–12

Higher Education

In some ways, Seattle is one big college town. It is the site of the state’s largest public university, the University of Washington, and home to many other well-known private and community colleges. You can become a doctor, a diver, a lawyer, or a massage therapist without ever leaving the city limits. Educational programs abound outside the city as well.

The state’s Direct Transfer Agreement makes it convenient for students to transfer from any Washington community college to one of the state’s six four-year universities. The system works well for students who prefer to earn an Associate’s degree before choosing a university, or who need to improve their grades a bit before applying to a four-year school. The agreement isn’t a guarantee of admission, however, so it’s best to check with the four-year college of your choice to discover any additional admission requirements.

In addition to traditional colleges, there are many special interest, vocational, and technical programs. Here is a partial list of schools located in the Seattle area.


  • Antioch University, 2326 6th Ave, 206-441-5352,, is a five-campus system that emphasizes an interdisciplinary curriculum. In addition to undergraduate courses, the college offers graduate programs in environment and community, management, whole systems design, and psychology.
  • Art Institute of Seattle, 2323 Elliott Ave, 206-448-6600, 800-275-2471,; students here learn from artists and professionals in a hands-on environment. AIS offers either Associate of Applied Arts degrees or diploma certificates through the schools of design, fashion, culinary arts, and media arts.
  • City University, 2150 N 107th St, 206-365-4228,, serves working adults who want to continue their education without interrupting their careers. CU offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs and has campuses in Bellevue, Everett, Renton, and Tacoma.
  • Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora St, 206-726-5016,, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in art, dance, design, music, theater, performance production, and humanities and sciences.
  • Everest College, 2111 N Northgate Way, 206-440-3090,, provides instruction in massage therapy, medical assisting, and medical insurance billing and coding. Everest College campuses offering different programs of study are located in Everett, Tacoma, and Vancouver.
  • North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way N, 206-527-3600,; located in a pleasant concrete building near Northgate Mall, NSCC is a versatile community college that offers day and evening classes for undergraduates and professionals. NSCC provides college transfer, career training, and pre-college programs in a range of subjects. The school’s continuing education program offers a variety of computer courses for all levels of users, as well as cooking, business, and online courses.
  • Seattle Central Community College, 1701 Broadway, 206-587-3800,; a school of 10,000 students, SCCC is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, offering both undergraduate and professional education classes. In 2001, TIME magazine named SCCC as one of its four “Colleges of the Year” for its success in helping first-year students make the transition into college life.
  • Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Ave W, 206-281-2000,; located at the north end of Queen Anne, SPU is a private Christian university with a picturesque campus, offering degrees in liberal arts, fine arts, business, and education, among others.
  • Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, 206-296-6000,; an independent Jesuit university located on First Hill, SU offers courses in a wide variety of subjects, including graduate programs in law, nursing, and software engineering, as well as undergraduate degrees in philosophy, theology, and the sciences. U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges of 2011” ranked SU among the top ten universities in the West that offer both master’s and undergraduate programs.
  • South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave SW, 206-764-5300,; located in West Seattle, SSCC offers both vocational and academic classes. The college’s Georgetown Campus provides health and safety and apprentice-related training as well as labor education.
  • University of Washington, 17th Ave NE and NE 45th St, 206-543-2100,; founded in 1861, the University of Washington is a public research university attended by about 48,000 students. With campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, the UW (or “You Dub,” as locals call it) is known internationally for its biomedical research. It also has outstanding graduate programs in business and law, and is a respected undergraduate institution. The university hosts guest speakers, dance troupes, and musicians throughout the year. In the fall, the Husky football team attracts alumni and sports fans from across the state.


  • Bastyr University, 14500 Juanita Dr N, Kenmore, 425-823-1300,; a renowned natural medicine university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields ranging from naturopathic medicine and nutrition to acupuncture and Oriental medicine and exercise science.
  • Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, 425-564-1000,; one of western Washington’s most popular two-year colleges, BCC offers A.A., A.S., and A.A.S. as well as bachelor’s degrees in a variety of academic programs.
  • Lake Washington Technical College, 11605 132nd Ave NE, Kirkland, 425-739-8100,, offers job-training and professional development programs, and serves as a community resource, featuring a job placement center, library, dental clinic, and arboretum. The college has branch campuses in Redmond and Duvall.


  • Cascadia Community College, 18345 Campus Way NE, Bothell, 425-352-8000,, is the state’s newest community college, offering two-year degrees, certificate programs, and continuing education. In 2007, Washington Monthly ranked Cascadia as the second best community college in the United States.
  • Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, 425-640-1459,; ECC’s 50-acre campus is located just 15 miles north of Seattle. The college allows students the opportunity to combine weekend, online, and evening classes to fit busy schedules.
  • Everett Community College, 2000 Tower St, Everett, 425-388-9100,; in 1999, ECC offers a variety of university transfer, professional, technical, vocational, job skills, basic skills and personal enrichment courses and programs.
  • Shoreline Community College, 16101 Greenwood Ave N, Shoreline, 206-546-4101,; boasts a gorgeous, 83-acre campus just 10 miles north of downtown Seattle. More than 13,000 full- and part-time students benefit from small classes and the surrounding recreational and cultural opportunities.
  • Western Washington University, 516 High St, Bellingham, 360-650-3000,; just 90 miles north of Seattle, WWU commands 200 acres in scenic Bellingham, a bayside city of 75,000. The university consistently ranks at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list of regional public universities.


  • Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Pkwy NW, Olympia, 360-867-6000,; with a reputation as the state’s most liberal and laid-back college, Evergreen State offers team-taught, multi-disciplinary programs that draw from many areas of study.
  • Green River Community College, 12401 SE 320th St, Auburn, 253-833-9111,; situated on over 180 acres of forested land, with branches in downtown Auburn, Enumclaw, and Kent, this two-year public college offers certificates and associate degrees in a variety of disciplines, from accounting to welding technology.
  • Highline Community College, 2400 S 240th St, Des Moines, 206-878-3710,; Highline’s courses of study are divided into academic transfer, professional/technical, pre-college study, and extended learning.
  • Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave S, Tacoma, 253-531-6900,; located in Tacoma’s suburban Parkland neighborhood, PLU includes a College of Arts and Sciences, professional schools of the arts, business, education, natural and social sciences, nursing and physical education, and both graduate and continuing education programs.
  • Tacoma Community College, 6501 S 19th St, 253-566-5000,, offers a range of academic and occupational degrees, worker retraining programs, and continuing education classes.
  • University of Puget Sound, 1500 N Warner St, Tacoma, 253-879-3211,; Puget Sound is a private liberal arts college with fewer than 3,000 students, mostly undergraduates. The school offers graduate programs in education, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

Continuing Education

Seattle boasts a highly educated population, according to the Census Bureau, but the learning doesn’t stop here with a college degree. Non-degree continuing education classes are very popular and offered by most of the community colleges, as well as individuals and studios all over the city. You can take a class on everything from biodiesel basics and bookkeeping to Thai cooking and tying knots. Two good sources of continuing education classes are:

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