What a special treat we have today! I asked a question about Amish children to one of our specialists, and here is the amazing answer I got.
Brenda Nixon is the specialist. She and I go way back together in the field of parenting.
What is life like for Amish children today? How much remains like yesteryear, and how much is infused with modern conveniences?
Good question. I can speak only on one Amish Order – Swartzentruber. I have many relationships with those in or from this uber strict order.
One example comes to mind, the five darling children of Ida and Harvey. For these children, it is early to bed and early to rise. Without alarm clocks. Walk to school toting a packed lunch. Walk home after school, and then household chores. Ida and Harvey’s children have not eaten in a restaurant or been inside a store like Walmart. They do love sweets and I often tuck candy in my pocket when I visit their farm.
Deutch – or Amish – is their first language. English is their second language. Children learn English once they begin school at five years of age.
Amish school education ends at eighth grade. Students are called scholars. After eighth grade, children go to work with the father, in a family member’s business, or are hired out to work elsewhere. They learn trades. The girls learn homemaking skills such as baking, gardening, and sewing in addition to working outside the home. All earned income goes to the father, as Amish children do not “come of age” until 21-years-old.
Amish children are expected to do household chores such as tending to the farm animals, helping with the harvest, or cutting hay. Usually they’re given chores and responsibilities early in life. Our son-in-law was driving a team of plow horses much bigger than himself by 11-years of age.
When they do have time to play, they entertain themselves with fishing or hunting. Since Swartzentruber Amish children cannot have bicycles, they find or make other toys. They play games like tag, race their buggies, and tease each other like any siblings.
Like children from any culture, when the parents are away the kids will play. Monroe – our second “son” from the Amish – told me of the times he and his brother would unclamp the two-volt engine from the water pump and hook it up to a wagon. His brother would lift up the back wagon wheels while Monroe pulled the cord to start the engine. Once those back wheels touched the ground – the motorized invention sped off. Monroe said he used the tongue or long handle of the wagon to steer it. Since there were no brakes, he’d sometimes run it into a fence. Of course this happened only when they were home alone.
As for the remains of yesteryear, one would find many pre-twentieth century behaviors. Swartzentruber Amish may not use electric, radios, cameras, cell phones, washers or dryers, vehicles, store-bought curtains or sunglasses, and rarely seek professional medical and dental care.
Passing by a Swartzentruber Amish home, you’ll see a simple, plain house, probably two-story, with dark single-panel curtains, surrounded by a large garden and black buggies. Even in winter you’ll see clothes hanging outdoors on the porch or in the yard to dry. Many have outdoor pets – cats and dogs.
The Amish I know are inventive and some wire electric in their barns for the animals or have it at their place of employment. They may use a two-volt engine to pump water or a cistern.
For pictures and more details about the charms of their children, see my post “Amish Children: Just Too Cute” at my Beyond Buggies and Bonnets blog http://brendanixononamish.blogspot.com/2013/03/amish-children-just-too-cute-i-gotta.html www.BrendaNixonOnAmish.blogspot.com.
Please feel free to contact Brenda in any or all of these ways. She would love to hear from you.
Brenda, About me
Raising Awareness of the Amish in Beyond Buggies & Bonnets blog
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