Blog Posts

The School Year Reimagined

“Considering the history of America’s traditional public school calendar, the needs of students have certainly changed since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, yet the educational system continues to rely on a schedule whose roots can be traced back to about 150 years ago.” –Center for Evaluation and Education Policy


Have you ever wondered why schools have the calendars they do?


At The Hillsboro School, we are deeply curious about such questions because we are driven to build a school based on how children learn and develop to the best of their abilities. We are a small community committed to investing in our children and future generations, so we investigated what practices best support students’ cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being.


The answers we found are not surprising, but certainly do raise questions about why schools are still scheduled the same way they have been for 150 years.


*Students do better in environments that provide consistent learning times.

*Students do better when they are offered frequent breaks to recharge and focus.

*Students do better when they stay connected to their learning community and avoid a 10-week summer slide.

*Students and teachers who have participated in moderated calendars overwhelmingly report having less burnout.


Furthermore, research from Duke University shows that over two-thirds of schools moving to a modified calendar showed empirical student improvements. Meta-analysis of empirical scientific study results also shows that a revised calendar that spreads school days more consistently throughout the year can lead to a positive result on student attitudes, attendance, and achievement. Results of over 50 schools that modified their calendars in this way showed profound positivity from teachers, parents, student, and administrators, with over 80% positive, and even more so after the implementation of the calendar than they were before.


Parents often struggle with the stress of preparing for summer break: finding camps, procuring childcare, taking time off work, or keeping children engaged in healthy ways at home. We want both quality time to spend with family and time for fun, meaningful experiences. Traditional vacation times are often the most expensive times to travel, limiting experiences for many. We want more for our families.


At The Hillsboro School, we use a modified calendar based on the developmental needs of children, giving all the advantages to our students and families. Students still attend school around 180 days as other schools with the advantage of the same traditional breaks: Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays, Spring Break and Early Summer in AL (in the Northeast, schools go through the month of June). Our students have six weeks off in the summer, from the end of May into July. Hillsboro students and their families also have off-season breaks for family vacations, independent study projects, or our Hands-On enrichment camps.

Students focus for nine week sessions followed by three week breaks, allowing concentrated learning blocks and then time for students to be revitalized. During those three week breaks, we offer Hands-On weekly camps: three weeks in Summer, Fall, and Spring, and a one week camp in December. This allows students and families to choose between options such as vacation, an independent project, or camps.


At Hillsboro, we devote ourselves to improving every element of the educational process, including the calendar, to provide the best learning experience possible. We hope you will come reimagine your child’s education with us.