James River Day School

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September 6, 2018

While many of us love summer and the opportunities it affords us -- camps, swim teams, travel, down time, and more -- the start of school is magical. The structure of school, the chance to bond with friends, the chance to learn new things, all impact our students immeasurably. James River is only a school when students are here, and we are happy and excited they are back!

It may seem strange to bring up the benefits of play, especially just after recognizing the benefits of organized learning and structure. I want to take a few moments, just the same, to share some key ideas researchers have been studying recently. A recent NPR article was thoughtful reading for me, reminding me of essential truths about the benefits of play for developing children.


  • Play is essential for healthy brain development
  • Play leads to physical confidence and healthy habits as adults
  • Play helps children manage stress
  • Play helps bonding with friends and family
  • Play contributes to academic skills


At James River, we intentionally design our program to take advantage of the benefits of play, in formal programs such physical education and athletics. As important, recess and breaks are essential times of the day, when peers can interact freely, problem solve, explore friendships, or just have fun.


We take learning seriously at James River. We also take time to play; it’s good for all of us.