We believe that our primary goal is to create scholars.
Our academic program is challenging and flexible, keeping individual student needs in mind. Over the course of nine years, from Kindergarten through grade eight, students develop sound habits of reading, writing, public speaking, problem-solving, calculating, experimenting, creating, and reflecting. Our students master the essential skills of organizing, researching, memorizing, and managing time well before they enter high school. Our graduates are well prepared for the best secondary programs, with skills and habits that continue to serve them into college.
Reading and Language Arts
We seek to foster a love of reading, along with the ability to read closely and thoughtfully, with strong comprehension. Our students study decoding systematically and study words and vocabulary in depth. We incorporate direct instruction in the fundamentals of English grammar into the practice of writing. In grades 5-8, students take both a literature course and a grammar and composition course. Our graduates are fluent and adept readers and writers. We demand the development of strong listening and speaking skills, providing regular opportunities for public presentations, thereby instilling poise and confidence in each child.
Our mathematics program balances computation and concept. Students learn arithmetic, geometry, and algebra, with all graduates passing Algebra I. Our math standards ensure mastery of basic computation, mathematical vocabulary, and problem-solving skills at each grade. We place an emphasis on precision, and we particularly demand an understanding of fractions, decimals, ratios, and percents, which is essential to success in higher-level math courses. We offer the opportunity for students with aptitude and motivation to accelerate, and qualified students are able to take Algebra II in the 8th grade.
Nowhere is our celebration of wonder and curiosity more evident than in our science program. Through hands-on research and exploration, our students learn science by doing science. Our science lab, greenhouse, and outdoor classroom facilitate instruction, supported by current technology for demonstration, data collection, and research. Our students learn a thoughtfully constructed body of scientific vocabulary and concepts in physical, earth, environmental, and life sciences.
History and Social Studies
Our mission is to create scholars, leaders, and citizens. The history and social studies curriculum prepares our students to be responsible and respectful citizens who have a scholarly appreciation for cultural and social history, geography, and research. We promote global understanding, while providing students with a foundation in Western civilization. Civics and geopolitical studies courses in 7th grade balance the study of American government with the in-depth exploration of politically sensitive global regions.
The visual arts are an essential part of our program, as any visitor to our building will immediately see. We strive to develop visual thinkers and creative problem-solvers. The visual arts curriculum fosters flexible, divergent, original, fluent, and imaginative thinking. In the 21st century, the image is all, and our students are immersed in an appreciation of the communicative power of image. Digital technology supports the visual arts, allowing our students the opportunity to learn essential technology skills while developing their ability to design and create.
The music program seeks to instill a love and appreciation of music through an understanding of the basic concepts of music theory. Music classes are supplemented by dramatic musical productions staged for grades K-4 at different times of the year. James River Day School orchestra, band, and chorus perform at school and community events.
The James River Day School Physical Education program is designed to inspire a life-long love of physical activity for wellness, self-expression, social interaction, challenge, and joy. We employ a whole-child approach, teaching beyond just the physical domain, but the cognitive and affective as well. In grades K-4 students engage in foundational activities to develop a broad range of motor skills and movement patterns. In grades 5-8 students participate in team sport, recreational, fitness, and cooperative leadership activities. This balanced approach to the curriculum ensures that all students participate in activities which suit their learning style, interests, and abilities. Health is also incorporated in grades 5-8, ensuring that students graduate with a strong grasp of the relevant issues in the areas of nutrition, substance abuse, fitness, and human growth and development.
Current technology applications are incorporated into all of our classrooms and areas of study, as appropriate. In addition, we provide direct instruction in basic word-processing, spread-sheets, slide show software, internet research, on-line ethics and safety, and emerging applications like video and audio recording and producing.
Students begin studying a second language, either French or Spanish, in Kindergarten, and continue that study until graduation. Eighth graders take French I, Spanish I, or Spanish II, earning high school credit. French and Spanish instruction seeks to create oral proficiency first, followed by the ability to read and write the target language. Cross-curricular, cultural projects help students appreciate the diversity of world languages and the importance of learning about other cultures.