James River Day School

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Creating Scholars

Our primary goal is to create scholars.

Our academic program is challenging and flexible, keeping the individual student in mind. Over the course of nine years, from kindergarten through grade eight, students develop sound habits of reading, writing, problem-solving, calculating, experimenting, creating, critical thinking, 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 and beyond.
Kindergarten through Second Grade
Our early elementary program is designed with the whole child in mind.

We care about physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. Our teachers are able to differentiate their instruction to support early readers and writers. Word study begins right from the start, producing strong decoding and spelling skills. Hands-on activities in science, mathematics, language, and social studies engage emerging thinkers. We include outdoor and indoor play, visual art, music, physical education, technology skills, library skills, and an introduction to a second language – either French or Spanish – in every grade. Our students learn the JRDS character pledge and recite it every day. The six pillars of good character: trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, caring, and citizenship, are taught directly in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and on the playground.
Third through Fourth Grade
Our middle elementary program continues to support the whole child, with gradual changes to prepare students for the more demanding academic expectations of middle school. History, geography, science, and mathematics instruction complement continued focus on reading, vocabulary, grammar, and writing. Students make the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” We teach organizational skills and study strategies in the context of homework and test preparation.

We continue to include outdoor and indoor play, visual art, music, physical education, technology skills, library skills, and second language instruction in every grade. Third grade students all begin the study of violin, which they may continue through grade eight. An emphasis on character education continues with the character pledge recited daily and character education activities incorporated into class time.
Fifth through Eighth Grade
Our middle school program gives young adolescents a safe, supportive environment and a challenging academic program. Students are expected to master a rich body of factual knowledge, to present orally on a regular basis, and to demonstrate the ability to do research and to work collaboratively.

All students continue to study a second language, completing world language studies through French I, Spanish I, or Spanish II before graduating. All students take Algebra I before graduating, and our flexible program allows students who need to move more quickly through the math sequence the opportunity to take Algebra II in eighth grade. The eighth grade Earth Science course is a high school level course, as well. All middle school students take both a literature class and a grammar and composition class, guaranteeing superb reading and writing skills. History study includes ancient history, American Civics, geopolitical studies, and post Civil War American history. Technology skills continue to be taught directly and are used throughout the curriculum.
Even in this challenging academic environment, we remember that our students are children. They have time to play outside, they continue to have physical education, and they continue to have art and music instruction. Athletic teams begin with 5th grade and include: volleyball, cross country, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. Fifth graders are required to take a music course: orchestra, band, or chorus. After fifth grade students choose whether to continue taking music courses. Because of the quality of our music department, these courses remain highly sought electives in grades six through eight. Character education activities continue to be a part of the each student's studies and middle school implements the use of an honor pledge on test and quizzes.