“The Gentle Art of Parenting.” As a mom of two toddlers, that sounded like the kind of class I needed. Coming across the Plumfield Academy website — while researching private schools in the area — I found a true gem. Here was a school that offered an intimate, pastoral setting for children in grades 1-8 and a variety of support to parents in the community. I immediately signed up for the parenting class and eagerly awaited the first day.
Pulling into the driveway is the first striking aspect of Plumfield. It is then that you first realize you are entering a home. In sharp contrast to a traditional schoolyard, with its wide parking lots and chain-link fences, Plumfield’s grounds are invitingly peaceful and naturally tranquil. My 3-year-old was drawn to the backyard, with its hill to run up and down and its trees to climb. As I watched him explore and run freely, I could see him at age 6… 8… 10… having the opportunity to learn and grow in a place of freedom.
Entering through the back door into a 4-season porch lined with windows, I was informed that in this spot children sit to do their math work. Continuing into the kitchen, study rooms, and living room I was impressed with the simplicity and warmth of the home-like setting. But beyond all this, what truly amazed me was the well-spoken children, ready to welcome me into their world. I thought, “This is the kind of child I want my child to become.”
Progressing to the parenting class, I was greeted by Nina Pension whose gracious and peaceful presence set a tone for the entire school. John Pension quietly announced that the visiting children were invited to make their own pizzas in the kitchen. It was clear that the school culture was founded on a sense of Christ-like peace and gentleness. As we explored concepts of parenting, I knew that it was not just my children who needed Plumfield.
Now, my son having attended the school for two years, I find myself filled with exactly what I was craving — a place to be supported as a parent who seeks a different kind of life for my children. The world is a wondrous place to be explored and experienced freely, and it is Plumfield that carries that message to my son when I am not there to tell him myself. My husband and I are true partners with Plumfield, not burdened with homework and busywork to fill our family time and not dismissed when we have ideas for our child’s education. We are supported, heard, respected, and cherished. Because of this unity and partnership, our son (and soon our daughter) can remain unburdened in his educational pursuits and be free to be a child, for whom there is not enough time in the day for all the exploration he has planned.
We immediately saw the difference that Plumfield’s unique atmosphere had on our boy. Like many children, Mark used to drag home at the end of a day at school with little to report. From day one, Mark has been eager for school each day and comes home energetic, happy and full of information about the day’s events.
Though he came into 4th grade struggling with writing, he found himself with plenty to say after interacting with such rich texts and information. The curriculum is filled with material that really matters to life. From Plato to profit-and-loss spreadsheets, Mark knows everything they do is work worth doing. The bar is set high for quality work, but it is accomplished with such a sense of nurturing that Mark has begun to see just what great work he is capable of producing.
Finally, the social atmosphere at Plumfield makes all the difference in the amount of learning that gets done. The teachers are committed to each child’s character development as intently as their academic development. Even normal conflicts with peers have been handled in a “better-than-normal” way. So much energy that used to be channeled towards social survival can now be directed toward healthy interactions and learning.
We can’t say enough about how this environment has impacted our son and, in turn, our entire family. We will always consider it a privilege and blessing to have found such a beautiful school. We hope many more people will one day understand Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of excellent, gentle, life-giving, worthwhile education. Our society desperately needs Ms. Mason’s insights applied, one family at a time.
Chris and Dee Dee Scaffidi
My son comes home talking about what he learned in school! This has never happened before.
I have seen such a change in my son over the past year. He is more content and confident in his academics.
My daughter would do well anywhere, but the opportunities at Plumfield are unique. She loves the kind of books that are read, the time to study what is of interest to her, and the atmosphere where there is a true love for learning.
As a successful school-teacher (grades 4-12 in public and private schools), I am acutely aware of the strengths, as well as the shortcomings, of conventional educational settings. As a mother, I have experienced frustration and sorrow, longing to see my children grow and learn in an environment that fosters community, mutual respect and appreciation among people of all ages; that provides the tools and direction they need for self-motivated research; that upholds a high moral and religious teaching; that knows, loves, and believes in my children, providing opportunities for them to continue to excel in their gifts, and patiently helping them in the subject matter that is difficult for them.
Plumfield Academy is an answer to my earnest prayers! My husband and I have watched our son blossom more than we dared wish for, in this his first year at Plumfield. He is truly a different person (or should I say, “He is truly himself again!”); free from the peer pressures that keep children from being able to focus on what is truly important (being the best person you can be; the adventure of learning; growing as a community.) It is a joy when I arrive to pick him up at the end of the day, to hear him say, “Can’t you wait a while longer, Mom? I really want to continue writing this story (or drawing…or reading…or researching on the computer…or just sitting and being with everyone…)
Yes, Plumfield Academy is truly an answer to prayer!
When I first came to Plumfield, my least favorite subject was math. I was not good at it at all. I felt as though I was the only one who didn’t understand, but then I saw that other people also struggled with some parts of math. With practice, I am now at high speed in my math.
After we read a chapter, we usually write a narration. By writing it out on paper in our own words, we remember it and get a better understanding than if we only read it. Because I work for the satisfaction of success and learning, I do as much as I can.
Here at Plumfield, we study famous people. We read books written by them or about them. These famous people become our teachers. We write narrations about their lives. In a way, we write our own books about the books we are reading.
At Plumfield, we strive to become better people. We learn to work with others, do independent studies, and enjoy learning about many interesting things. Plumfield is a place where we help each other. Plumfield has had a positive affect on my life in more ways than just academics. This is an environment where you can be yourself, free from peer pressure, and where you have fun while you learn.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pension,
Thank you so much for everything you have done for me this year at Plumfield. I learned so much and had a lot of fun. When I had to leave early or miss a day of school, I wished I was at Plumfield.
This year I have really come out of my shell. You helped me to become a much better person over the course of this year. You have helped me to develop new skills and values that have helped me to prevent and solve problems, get along better with my friends and family, and to be an all around better person. My life at home has been so much easier since I started going to Plumfield. I have learned skills that will help me all of my life. If I had not come to Plumfield, I would be a very different person: quick tempered and insecure. Plumfield has given me the opportunity to open up and feel safe about doing so. I think every school should be like Plumfield because no one gets bullied and we can express ourselves without being made fun of. Also, I love the fact that I can always ask for your help, and you always give it to me.
This has been a great year for me, and I have made a lot of progress. I look forward to coming back for another one next year.
Thanks again, Matt
In science, you’re not just in a class room listening to a teacher read; you are actually experimenting yourself to test whether or not your theory is correct.
In history, we learn in detail what the people we are studying were doing at the time. We also learn about the great wars and battles of the past.
During skills hour, we practice academic skills such as typing, handwriting, math facts, editing, and spelling. We also work on science projects.
At Plumfield, we get to work at our own pace. The teachers are really nice. They don’t rush you to finish; they just want you to do your best.