Homeschooling is uncommon among the Amish. Why? Karen Johnson-Weiner suggests in her book Train Up A Child that it conflicts with the concept of community, so important to the Amish.

But, some do homeschool. I know at least one Amish family who has. They happen to be members of a New Order Amish church. Amish Cook columnist Gloria Yoder also belongs to a New Order church. In her recent column, she describes a typical day as a homeschooling mother of five children. An excerpt:

The children then hop to their assigned morning chores, knowing that the incomplete jobs will be waiting on them at recces time. Each child has a job according to their ability, such as filling water jugs for the shop, gathering quail eggs, having each child pick up the number of toys that match their age, and the likes.

This forenoon looks like an ordinary day; the next few hours will be spent doing school and having recess with them. Get the picture, we’re downstairs, there are five desks in a row. Teacher Mama sits on an office chair with baby Joshua on her lap, sliding her chair from desk to desk on her full-time job of keeping little hands busy and quiet.

I love watching the three-year-olds as they importantly raise their hands to summon me to their side. Life may be intense, but it really is so good. After school, hours is the normal practice time with the younger ones. We actually act out various scenes of sharing, responding with, “Here I am,” when they hear mom’s voice saying their name, or even practicing introducing themselves to strangers. We determine what to practice according to skills that need to be sharpened.

Is homeschooling more common among the New Order? It is possible. In some sense they are among the more atypical when it comes to formal education, when you consider the New Order practice of Sunday School, not really seen among other Amish.

Teacher’s desk inside a Tennessee Amish school. Photo by Don Burke

Besides the interesting glimpses into her life, I always appreciate Gloria Yoder’s sense of optimism that comes through in her writing. You can read the full column here. She also gives a seasoned pretzel recipe which is simple enough that I think I could even pull it off.

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