Questions on Amish children and childbirth
- Where are Amish children born?
- How large is the average Amish family?
- Do Amish ever adopt?
- How are Amish children disciplined?
- What games do Amish children play?
- When do Amish children go to school?
Where are Amish children born? Different places! Many Amish prefer to have their children in the comfortable, secure environment of the home. These births may be midwife-assisted or in some cases doctors may be present.
How many children are in the average Amish family? Six to seven is commonly given as an average number of children. However this can vary greatly by community and Amish group.
One Amish affiliation, for example, has closer to five on average, while in some plainer communities eight or nine is more common (see An Amish Patchwork: Indiana’s Old Orders in the Modern World, by Thomas Meyers & Steven Nolt, for examples from Hoosier State communities). In recent years births have declined in some communities.
Do Amish ever adopt? Yes. Amish who can’t have children naturally may adopt non-Amish children from outside of their communities. Amish also serve as foster parents in a number of places.
Amish children may be adopted by other Amish in the case of tragedy, when both parents are lost. This happened in 2012 when a dozen Amish children were adopted after being orphaned due to a road accident in New York. A newsletter called the Amish Adoption Advocate serves as a resource for adoptive families.
How are Amish children disciplined? Amish believe in corporal punishment. Spanking or physical punishment is common in Amish households. Parents and in some cases schoolteachers will discipline children. Not all Amish children are angels, though outsiders often comment on how well-behaved Amish children appear to be. Read more on Amish child discipline.
What games do Amish children play? Amish children play a variety of games, including outdoor pastimes and sports such as softball, football, hockey and volleyball. Croquet is popular in Lancaster County.
Traditional board games are popular in Amish homes, such as Life on the Farm, Monopoly, Settlers of Cataan, as well as some card games. Adults participate in these games along with younger people.
At what age do Amish children go to school? Amish children typically go to school for the first grade at age six or seven. They may attend either a private Amish parochial school, or in some settlements, a public school.
Before formal schooling begins, the approach to early education varies. While the most traditional Amish “delay sending their children to school as long as they can and do little reading or other activities to prepare them for their school lessons, parents in the most progressive Amish communities prepare their children to do well in school by beginning school-like activities in the home” (Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools, Karen Johnson-Weiner, Appendix B p. 226).
- Meyers, Thomas J. and Steven M. Nolt. An Amish Patchwork: Indiana’s Old Orders in the Modern World. Bloomington, IN: Quarry Books, 2005.
- Johnson-Weiner, Karen. Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
- Hurst, Charles E, and David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox: Diversity & Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Children.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 9 Apr. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <http://amishamerica.com/children/>.
Image credits: Father and child- Ed C.