Focus on the Whole Child

Several years ago, we began to look critically at the kind of experience(s) we provide for our students. We understood how important it was to attend to our students' academic, social, emotional, and physical needs, as these needs were all dependent on one another for so many things--for learning and for life itself. We asked ourselves, "What do we want for our students when they leave RGS at the end of grade 6?" From that initial brainstorming session, as well as from months and months of reading, reflecting, and talking with one another, came our four Pillars.

Upon leaving Rollinsford Grade School, our hope is that every member of the learning community - students and teachers alike - are well on their way to becoming:

  • Collaborative and compassionate members of our global society;
  • Lifelong learners;
  • Architects of their personal wellness; and
  • Critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Through everything we offer our students--from their various classroom experiences, to their participation in Community Building Groups, to multiple opportunities to engage in daily unstructured play etc.--we are honoring our commitment to the whole child.


One of the greatest gifts of being a small school is the natural opportunity we have to foster a compassionate, collaborative, and active community. Our belief in the profound relationships that are built by learning collaboratively has shaped our connections with each other, our families, and the Rollinsford community. Our Community Building Groups (small groups of 10-12 K-6 students and 2 staff members) meet regularly to 1) reflect on who we are and what we practice, 2) discuss our goals, and 3) brainstorm our future path. We utilize Community Building Group time to explicitly explore and practice our communication, kindness, and personal reflection skills. We invite a variety of visitors into our school both during the school day as well as during our Student Showcases-- evenings when students and staff alike share their learning, demonstrate their knowledge, or share a healthy risk they took in order to stretch their minds. It's a remarkable experience.


Following one's passion is often times a courageous endeavor. It takes self-confidence, trust in the people around you, and a willingness to take a healthy-risk. The collective effort of every member of RGS to consciously and purposefully do the kind thing, whether people are watching or not, has created a learning environment in which students and staff are respected, appreciated, inspired, and safe. Each day we stretch our learning, share our struggles, and solve complex problems as a team, because we have a belief in ourselves and each other.

Unstructured Play and Movement:

Unstructured play is a way for children of all ages, special needs, and developmental stages to explore movement, develop physical skills, channel energy, stimulate imagination, enhance problem solving skills and promote creativity. Students have physical education classes each week as well as daily opportunities to spend extended time outside playing in the natural world (Kindergarten through sixth grade, together). The goal of melding movement with the curriculum is two fold. First, to expose our children to unique experiences they may not otherwise have that allow for self-expression and creativity and secondly, to provide an alternative approach and method for students to demonstrate their understanding.