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.”
“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.
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: