More than two years ago, Princeton Day School began to consider an ambitious set of curricular initiatives to ensure the continued vitality of its academic program. We soon came to realize that a revitalized academic program required us to look anew at our academic schedule, which was created over a decade ago and lacked the flexibility to deliver the most optimal teaching and learning experience--and the healthiest school culture--to our current generation of students.
New Academic Schedule 2017-2018
Highlights of the new academic schedule:
- All three divisions will adopt a 7-day rotation of classes rather than 5-day rotation of classes pegged to the days of the week. The purpose of a 7-day rotation is to protect academic time by avoiding the irretrievable loss of classes that occurs in our current schedule when school is not in session on holidays like the Monday of Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Weekend.
- Academic periods will be longer to promote more student-centered, collaborative teaching and more durable learning.
- Fewer classes will meet per day, which will ease nightly homework loads and improve the health and wellness of our students.
- The day will be more evenly paced with scheduled breaks provided throughout the day.
- With more strategically-positioned breaks, students will have far fewer "back to back" classes, thereby giving them more time to consolidate their learning and to transition comfortably and confidently into their next class.
- By lengthening periods and creating less hectic transitions from class to class, the amount of actual learning that takes place in academic blocks increases.
- The new schedule will provide more time for innovative, creative, interdisciplinary programs that will enliven our curriculum and better serve the needs of students.
Highlights per division include:
- Resource Period in Middle School will now meet every day and has been decoupled from Ensembles, ensuring that MS students can connect with their teachers every day.
- A newly created Resource Period in the Upper School (called the "Conference/Collaboration Period") will give US students much broader and more consistent access to their teachers when they need extra help. The positioning of this Period at the end of the day also ensures that early athletic dismissals do not encroach on class time nearly as much as in our current schedule.
- A new "Da Vinci Period" in Middle School creates a platform for innovative, creative programs.
- The Lower School Schedule has been reconfigured to maximize the amount of time students spend with their homeroom teacher, which is the single most important determinant of student learning and well being for our LS learners.
- Lower School will dismiss at 2:30 p.m. (rather than 1:30 p.m.) on Wednesdays.
What will our new Lower School schedule look like?
- The Lower School will be on a 7-day rotation of classes to align with the new schedule in the Upper and Middle Schools. This will ensure that we can share spaces and faculty between divisions.
- The 7-day schedule distributes the burden of missed days more evenly. (Monday classes, because of holidays, will not always be missed.)
- The Lower School will dismiss at 2:30 p.m. (rather than 1:30 p.m.) on Wednesdays so the faculty can meet together to develop programs and curriculum. After school classes will continue to be offered.
- Our 4th grade arts rotation (ceramics, woodshop, and art) will continue.
- Chess in Kindergarten and 1st Grade will continue.
- We meet (or exceed) the ideal benchmarks for classroom homeroom time, based on research on the learning needs of lower school students and best teaching practices. At the same time, we are able to continue to offer our many robust specials classes, which are signature features of our Lower School program.
- The new schedule will provide more time for innovative and creative programs such as design thinking and interdisciplinary programs like STEAM.
- The full-year 7-day schedule will be published on the website at the beginning of the year. Parents will know what day it is in the rotation, even a date several months away.