You can spot them a mile away. Long plain dresses, big hats, and horse-drawn buggies. Hard-working families running errands across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The Amish!
The Amish community and the Amish lifestyle have always been a topic of interest for ‘outsiders’ like us. Big families, rural life, no electricity, working kids, women with head-coverings, and men with big beards… But who are they?
According to experts, the Amish church was started in Switzerland with a schism between two religious groups - the Swiss and the Alsatian Anabaptists. To be more precise, the movement was initiated by Jakob Ammann in 1693, and people who followed Ammann were recognized as Amish. So, what do they do? Amish people value nature, traditions, family life, and religious principles. Hm, and why don’t they join the modern era? People’s beliefs can’t be changed easily. Perhaps Amish people would ask us the same. Why do we spend hours on the Internet? Why do some kids have no idea that milk comes from cows?
Talking about kids, are Amish kids more different than non-Amish kids? Let’s dive into their daily routine from dawn to dusk. Literally!
15 Early Birds
Amish kids are vital members of the community, and therefore, they are often treated as adults. Laziness is not valued at all, and not surprisingly, Amish kids can’t stay in bed all day. Just like their parents and the rest of the Amish community, Amish kids have an early start. For most Amish families, the day starts before dawn. At around five o'clock in the morning everyone is already up and ready to complete their morning duties and chores. If other kids get up after sunrise and have their cereal waiting for them, Amish kids are not scared of the dark and are happy to prepare breakfast for themselves and their families. The early bird gets the worm, they say. So, perhaps Amish kids are meant to succeed in life.
14 Brush Your Teeth… And Much More
Getting up early gives Amish people the chance to complete their morning duties. Having extra hours before school or work means there’s no space for excuses. A messy house or no homework? No way! Amish kids, just like any other member of the family, have their household chores. From sweeping to making the bed, kids help their parents. Although morning duties may take up to a few hours, Amish kids do not complain because they know they are valuable members of the family - not just guests in a hotel. Unfortunately, we've heard of non-Amish kids who just wake up, get their lunch box and leave for school without saying a proper goodbye. Kids should learn how to take care of simple stuff. The chore challenge might be tough, but parents need to teach kids responsibility.
13 Chore Games
In fact, Amish kids do not find their chores boring or demanding. It’s not only sweeping or cooking. Amish kids help their parents with almost everything in the house. They shovel snow, feed the farm animals, and water the plants. Do you know many kids who can collect eggs? The Amish community has kept their precious connection with nature, and Amish kids know how to enjoy the rhythms of the seasons. Amish kids know that milk comes from cows - not supermarkets, and that tomatoes are not always perfectly shaped, red, and sweet. In other words, Amish kids love helping their parents because they know that’s the only way for their families to survive. If you don’t want to collect eggs, what are you going to eat? You can’t always have pancakes waiting for you!
12 The School Bell Is Ringing
After their morning chores, all Amish children are required to go to school. It’s interesting to mention that Amish children do not attend public schools, but a schoolhouse near their homes. Usually, their schools are one-room schools where all kids gather to learn and help each other. Parents do not drive their kids to school. Of course not. Amish kids walk to school and spend a lot of time studying. Many Amish children learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch, English, and Swiss German. Pennsylvania German is spoken by the Old Order Amish and can be described as a variety of West Central German. Also, just like other kids at their age, they study basic subjects, such as Maths. However, Amish kids can attend school only from the first grade to the eighth grade.
11 Boys Vs. Girls
One of the main reasons why Amish kids do not continue their education is... simple. They believe there are other ways they can help their communities to succeed. Amish schools teach their kids that work and devotion are more important than going to college. In the end, they need to know how to prepare the fields to survive, not how to use angel functions or analyze philosophical essays. Although boys and girls go to school together, they learn different things. Amish schools teach boys and girls different practical skills. Amish girls must learn how to be good wives and mothers, which means they need to know how to cook, clean and drive buggies. Amish boys, on the other hand, deal with “man’s tasks”, they need to know to manage finances and use various tools.
10 Time For Fun
Of course, Amish kids are just kids. Like any other children at their age, Amish kids love playing. And they are allowed to have some fun in between their studies. They can play games that other kids do; baseball, for example. However, they are not allowed to play competitively but just for fun. Creativity is also encouraged, and kids learn to draw and write poems. Other leisure activities may include fishing, bird-watching, board games like Scrabble, and solo hobbies like embroidery. Some of the family activities Amish kids do love are camping, boating, and hiking. In the end, Amish life is not all about work and God but fun. In fact, work and fun have merged in one, and many Amish kids may consider shelling peas as a fun activity.
9 Team Players
As mentioned above, team games are allowed but competitiveness is not accepted. Amish kids do not agree with the concepts of ambition and pride. They value every member of the community and show respect to other kids. Scores do not matter, and everyone can play together. In fact, many of the leisure activities that are common among the Amish community are team activities. They share work and fun. Amish kids love spending time with family and friends. For instance, Amish people may organize an evening out of playing a board game. Visiting other Amish is also a common activity. And of course, we should mention their favorite auctions. Auctions give Amish families the unique chance to talk, support each other, and get the best deal. In the end, practicality can be fun as well.
8 Festive Mood
Amish value rural life, modesty, and God. They believe that God's son, Jesus Christ, died for people's sins and help them find salvation. Therefore, religious holidays are precious within the Amish community. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest Christian holidays - Christmas, is one of the most anticipated events. Kids all over the world love Christmas, of course, but Amish kids do not write letters to Santa. There are no electric lights everywhere, no huge Christmas trees. Still, Amish kids are encouraged to have fun and make it fun for their families. How? Usually, Amish kids may organize a Christmas program at school, full of plays, readings, caroling, and art activities. It’s all about the family, the traditional meaning of the holiday and the religious significance of Christmas.
7 Harvest Time
Christmas is over, so back to reality. Amish kids attend school eight months out of the year. There are two seasons that are very busy, and all Amish kids help their communities. During the spring and summer months, kids do not go to the beach but help their parents on the farm. It’s harvest time. It’s mainly Amish boys who help their fathers in the fields. Boys are required to learn how to use farm equipment, including heavy tools. They do not complain. They consider these activities as an essential way to get ready for when they are old enough to start working. And old enough means teenagers. The day they finish school, Amish kids are expected to become successful members of the working community and help their families succeed in life.
6 Mother’s Little Helper
As Amish boys and girls have different roles in their traditional and rural society, Amish girls are required to help their mothers in the house. Traditional values and roles are a must, and girls need to respect their community. No miniskirts. As mentioned above, Amish girls learn to be good wives and mothers. They must know how to cook, clean and look after their siblings. On top of that, they must know how to do the yard work, gardening, and other tasks. Last, but not least, Amish girls learn other practical skills that can help them make some extra cash and help their families. For instance, quilting is a very precious and beautiful tradition, and girls can sell their quilts when they’re old enough. Again, auctions are a wonderful way to socialize and get the best deal.
5 Farm Life
Farm life means a lot of hard work and Amish kids are not scared to get their hands dirty. They do not mind getting their nails broken. Quite the opposite: Amish kids would do almost anything to help their families succeed and their community flourish. Of course, games are allowed during the working months. From pony rides to fishing, farm life has a lot to offer, and many Amish kids indulge in their favorite recreational activities and games. In fact, the fact that people work together is fun enough and kids just love gathering together and working as a team. What’s more, an interesting study showed that rural life has many benefits for kids. Experts revealed that Amish kids suffer from asthma and allergies less compared to other non-Amish kids.
4 Safety First
We should not forget that Amish kids are kids and parents know that safety comes first. Although Amish parents teach their kids how to cook, ride a horse, and work in the fields, they know that safety is crucial. Farming comes with a lot of dangers, large equipment, and big animals, so parents need to show their kids how to stay safe while working and playing. Amish kids learn through games how not to get injured and stay safe. For instance, girls need to learn how to handle boiling oil and milking a cow, and boys need to know how to work safely with dangerous tools and mules. Although Amish farmers believe that tractors harm the land, which leads to reduced yields, some may even learn how to operate machinery.
3 The Mighty Dollar
Most of all, Amish kids know how to handle money. In fact, there’s a lot we can learn from the Amish families we can see working and traveling across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Amish communities avoid credit cards and government handouts. They shop smart and in bulks. They have their small businesses and grow their food. In fact, according to Erik Wesner, Amish small businesses have a survival rate of over 95%. In comparison, non-Amish businesses have a survival rate around 50%. What’s more, kids know how to value money. Instead of playing with toys or video games, Amish girls will learn how to sell their quilts, and Amish boys will learn how to fix things. All this can help kids become responsible adults who value family, traditions, money, nature, and God.
2 Warm Evenings
After a long day, the Amish family finally gathers together. Dinner is served, and kids talk to their parents and siblings. Note that prayers around the kitchen table are common. Of course, after dinner, Amish kids help with cleaning up. Then, it’s time for more love and recreation. As Amish families avoid using electricity in their homes, they do not have tech gadgets, such as tablets or computers to play with. What’s more, Amish families value their traditional views on life, so they wouldn't watch TV. Amish families simply spend time together. Just like non-Amish families, they can play board games, kids can play with dolls, and family members can even make wooden toys together. Teens can read Amish produced magazines and focus on things they find relevant, such as school studies.
1 A Letter For Good Night
At the end of the day, it’s time for some peaceful time. House is tidy, toys and magazines are put away. So, kids can finally enjoy one of their favorite activities - writing letters. In fact, many Amish children are pen pals with other non-Amish and of course, other Amish children. Staying in touch with family and friends is vital, so writing letters is the best way to do it. No Viber, no Skype, no Facebook. Good old letters instead! Since the Amish do not use electricity in their homes, they rely on gas lighting. Therefore, when the sun sets and after the evening duties and games are over, it’s time for bed. In fact, bedtimes are usually early when compared to those of other kids. But that’s okay, the day starts early, so Amish kids need to rest. Well, all kids do!