Amish LinksAmish Family Table of Contents: Links to other Amish sites
Amish Women: All about Amish Women and their roles in the community
Amish Men at Work: The role of Amish men in the community
Amish Religion and Customs: The Amish Religion , customs and community
The Secrets of Amish Life: Excerpt from my ebook on the Amish Life
Amish History: The History of the Amish and Mennonites
Amish Transportation: How do the Amish travel if they don't own cars?
Amish Medicine: Do the Amish use modern medicine?
Amish Weddings: The Wedding Customs of the Amish
Young Amish children help out at home and on the farm.
Learn more about Amish children here.
The Amish, of course, are a Christian sect concentrated in
Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. They shun technology, including
electricity; they drive horses and buggies; and they wear plain
clothes. It's a demanding life, to be sure, but one that most
return to after a period in their teenage years called rumspringa,
a Pennsylvania Dutch term meaning "running around."
Typically, this means driving cars, dating and other mostly harmless
forms of partying. Amish faith and life are one woven
strand, inseparable from each other.
Amish Children At Play (c)copyright 2002 Bea Sheftel
It isn't all work for Amish children, though they do help their parents. Here they are skating on old fashioned four wheel skates.
It probably surprises people that Amish children do not spend their time working. Yes, they have chores to do to help their families, but they also have free time to enjoy games and play.
Amish children are not allowed to ride fancy bikes. However, some communities allow plain bikes with no decorations, and only manual brakes. The bikes are not allowed in colors but are all uniformly silver. Other communities do not allow bikes because they feel the children will speed along the roads.
Amish children and even adults may travel with wheels. What kind? Well, skate wheels. They won't be found wearing the faster inline skates, but the old fashioned four wheel skates. Even the older teens and parents can be found skating on the road between the farms. This is more for expediency and to save wear and tear on the horse and carriage.
Other activities Amish children enjoy include baseball only they don't play competitively. It isn't winning that is important in an Amish game of baseball but in playing for the fun and exercise. Baseball is played at recess from school also. It is a favorite game.
So the rules of the game are not the same as the baseball we know. Many Amish teens play baseball, even on teams run by non Amish. Is this allowed? The Amish want their children to choose their plain way of life. During the teen years the children are given a remarkable amount of freedom to taste the "outside world". Parents are confident the children will choose to stay with the community. Most do. Only a small percentage leave and then usually to marry someone who is non Amish. If they haven't been baptised, they aren't shunned.
(c)copyright Bea Sheftel 2002
Amish children go to one room schools within walking distance of their homes. They are called "Young Scholars" by their family. The children are expected to concentrate on their work and do the best they can.
Their teachers are young, unmarried women from the community. They learn the basics of reading, writing, arithmatic, as well as German and English.
School is not all work for the children. Like classes everywhere, they also have drawing, and special projects. Unlike most public schools, there is no problem involving the parents. They are more than willing to help out. A father might come in early to start the fire in the stove that heats the building. A mother might donate a special lunch or birthday cupcakes.
Seasonally the teachers have the children put on plays. Usually these have some spiritual meaning. The mothers help make the costumes. The fathers help build whatever scenery is needed. When it comes time to put on the play, all the parents and grandparents are invited. There might be too many for one show, so the play will be put on several times.
Even though Amish children go to school from first to 8th grade only, they are well educated in the basics. Some will graduate and go into programs to learn how to work in various Amish approved businesses. Others will work with their fathers on the farm. The girls will learn everything they need to know to be a wife and mother. They will learn to sew quilts, bake cakes and cookies, take care of babies, clean house. Both boys and girls will learn how to drive the wagons, and buggies used by the Amish instead of cars.
The school day is broken up by recess. Depending on the weather the children might play baseball, or use the play equipment made for them by the men of the community. Playtime is important to the Amish children to let off steam. They also learn about cooperation and non competitive play. Even baseball is played more fun than to win.