A Visit to an Amish School

It’s August and for the kids here in the Sooner State (and others too, I’m sure), it’s back-to-school time. Not just for the English kids, but the Amish ones as well.

Although Amish schools are very different from English ones, not all Amish schools are the same. Last year, I got to visit an Amish schoolhouse and observe. What great fun to see the teacher and scholars in action. I also asked a ton of questions (how unlike me, right?). Here’s some of the great info I discovered and saw.

Before school starts in the fall, the moms clean the schoolhouse. The teacher has a few students come the week before to help her get set up. Just before the first day of school, everyone (students, parents, and teacher) will go to an all-school singing and picnic.

When we arrived at the school, the students stopped what they were doing and sang three songs for us. I found out that they do this for all visitors. While they sang, we were allowed to look through the visitor’s binder. Inside is a page for each scholar at the school. At the beginning of the year, they answer certain questions and decorate a scrapbook page.

One of the scrapbook pages I saw was “What I want to be when I grow up.” Some girls put “own a bakery” and “be a maid” and they decorated the page with stickers. A few of the boys wrote “be a hunter” and “be a farmer.”

Some of the questions from the binder were name and grade, along with the names of their siblings and parents. Other questions included:

Something people don’t know about me

Some cute answers I saw were:

“I like pickles.”

“I know how to milk.”

“I was in an accident when I was two and got to ride in a helicopter.”

“I went on a train to New Jersey.”

My pet peeve

Some cute answers were:

“When people chew with their mouth open.”

“When people talk with food in their mouth.”

“Milking cows.”

“Going to the dentist.”

“Do-overs.” (A do-over is when someone gets a 70% or below. They have to do that paper over until their grade improves.)

A good habit the entire world should practice

Almost everyone wrote The Golden Rule

The binder was such fun to look through. It really gives good insight into the likes and personalities of the kids.

The teacher called each grade to the front by her desk to practice reading out loud, locating states on a map, doing flashcards, and practicing German vocabulary. When each grade came up, the others remained at their desks doing silent work.

The teacher held a spelling activity for the third grade girls. They all went to the front and had to spell words to get back to their seats. A consonant was a step forward and a vowel was a step backward. So they spelled the word aloud as they took the appropriate steps. It took four to five words to get to their seats.

When the lessons were over and it was time for recess the teacher said, “Everyone sit up straight and tall.” Once they did as she asked, the teacher rang a bell, and they went outside. Some kids have chores to do before recess like sweeping the floor.

The kids played softball outside and we stayed to watch. (Well, I watched. Stacey played. But that’s a blog post for another day. LOL) The children also like to play tag where if you get tagged you hold hands and make a long train as they keep trying to catch people. Like most schools, there were swing sets and see-saws to play on as well.

A Few Fun Facts I Learned About Amish Schools

Amish and Mennonite attend the same school in some districts. (When I was in Pennsylvania, there was one Mennonite boy in the school.)

The parents refer to the children as scholars.

Amish schools do issue report cards.

The school we visited was also equipped with an outhouse. And I’m sure it’s not the only one.

Discipline:

Yes, there is discipline in Amish schools. And there are behavior problems that arise. If a student is not well-behaved, the teacher speaks to the parents and the child works to improve the behavior. If the student still does not follow the rules, they will be sent to a different school for a fresh start. If the behaviors still continue, the parents will be required to homeschool.

A fun example of how the teacher encourages good behavior:

Each mom is sent a piece of paper. On the paper, she writes a reward. The students and the teacher do not know what is written on the papers. Then the teacher places each paper in a balloon and the balloons are left in the classroom. Once the class earns two hundred points, they get to pop a balloon and they earn their reward. The day I was there the reward was a pizza party.

Each school has a board which consists of three men (who are dads from the class). Every so often, the school closes so the three dads along with their wives, the teacher, and the 7th and 8th graders will visit other school houses. They visit four that day. They go to get ideas and to see what other students and teachers are doing.

So as you can see, Amish schools can be as similar to English schools as they are different. Have you ever been to an Amish school?

Pictures from an Amish School:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Valley

For those of you who remember the TV show with Hoss and Little Joe, no, I haven’t forgotten what this blog is about. I’m talking about Big Valley, PA. Also known as Kishacoquillas Valley or Kish Valley. Kish Valley  is home to the second largest Amish settlement in Pennsylvania, with Lancaster County being the first. But in terms of uniqueness, the Valley wins hands down.

big valley pa meme

Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be blogging about Kish Valley and all the interesting things I learned while I visited there. Here are a few of the beautiful pictures I took last month. Enjoy!

kish valley 15

Here’s me and Stace on the top of Jacks Mountain. Down below you can see the Valley. Incredibly beautiful!

Kish valley 17

The Valley from the top of Jacks Mountain.

Kish valley 1 peights store

Peight’s Store in the Valley.

Kish valley 27

“Byler Amish” farm. The Valley is home to twelve different sects of Amish and Mennonites, the Byler Amish among them. (more on the Byler Amish later.)

KV black buggy 5

“Peachey” or “Renno Amish” buggy. They go by either name and are the most progressive of the Valley Amish, though that’s not saying a great deal. They are still conservative Old Order Amish. More on the Peachey Amish later. (Yes, I prefer calling them by this name since almost every mailbox we passed had the name ‘Peachey’ on it.)

KV wildflowers

These beautiful purple wildflowers were all over the Valley. I loved seeing them against the weather-worn fence posts.

KV store 1

A road-side store. This one was closed the first day we were there, but open the second. Two very helpful Mennonite women worked there and gave us some great information about the local Amish. Stacey and I bought a jar of church pickles, some corn on the cob, and a couple of tomatoes. Yummy!

Kish valley 38

A Valley farm. So picturesque!

Kish valley 47

Oh, you know how I love cows!

Well, that’s the last picture for this post. Which one is your favorite? Be sure to leave a comment. At the end of the month, everyone who commented will have their name put in a drawing to win a copy of one of my books!

Be watching for more about the Valley Amish, along with news about the new mystery series, updates on the new romance series, and other great info about the Amish in general!

Thanks for reading!

amy sig (1)

 

sign up blog