The Life of an Amish Child (part 1)
It's not all work and no play for the typical Amish child, but it is much different from that of a non-Amish child's day. Every single person in an Amish family is considered a productive member of the community, including the children. Depending on the age and gender of the Amish child, certain duties and responsibilities are required of them from sunup to sundown. In fact, everyone's day starts well before the sun even has a chance to rise.
The day begins for most Amish families around five o'clock in the morning. This means that every member of the family gets up and completes their morning duties. Amish children all have their own household chores to perform, such as sweeping, making the beds, shoveling snow, feeding the farm animals, collecting eggs, or helping their parents with their morning chores. This can last for several hours each morning and must be completed before they have to get ready for school.
All Amish children are required to attend school from the first grade to the eighth grade. Amish children do not attend public schools, but instead go to a one-room school house that is located near their homes. Each morning Amish children walk to school and spend the majority of the day studying. Amish children learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch when they are young, but when they go to school they also learn to speak English and German. They also learn the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics, just like other children their age. However, Amish schools also teach their children the things they'll need to know to succeed in their Amish communities. Amish girls will primarily learn how to be good wives and mothers. They are taught how to cook, bake, sew, quilt, clean, raise children, and drive buggies. Amish boys are taught how to manage finances, prepare the fields, use tools, and drive a horse and buggy team.
In between their studies, Amish children are allowed to be creative and play throughout the day, all the while keeping within the strict beliefs of the Amish way of life. The Amish are allowed to play many of the same games that other children do, like baseball and soccer, but they are not played competitively. Amish schools do not promote the ideas of ambition, competition, and pride. They believe that every member of the Amish community has value and to pit one member against another, even during playtime, creates negativity and directs focus to the individual rather than the group. Therefore, competitive games are played solely for fun and exercise. Scores are not kept and everyone is encouraged to participate.
Creativity is also allowed in Amish schools and many children will learn to draw, make crafts, or write poetry. This is especially important in the months before Christmas where most Amish school children will put on a Christmas program that will include religious-themed play productions, poetry readings, caroling, and arts and crafts. The Christmas program is usually one of the most anticipated events throughout the year and the children are encouraged to do their best in making it fun for the entire community.
The Life of an Amish Child (part 2)