A Day In The Life of a Homeschooling Amish Mom

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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    3 Comments

    1. Sunflower

      Homeschooling

      Hello! I’m curious as to what curriculum is most popular among Amish homeschoolers. Or would they make up their own? Do they use the public library, join homeschool groups or a co-op?
      I used a mix of Christian curriculum but when my children were very young i liked the story books and some others from Rod and Staff. I really liked the themes of church, family life and cooperation. They seem to have gone out of business. I wanted to get some of their story books for my grandchildren. I wish I saved more of them; but you can’t keep everything! Thank you for this article.

    2. Blaise Prentiss

      Homeschooling

      Sunflower,

      Many Amish schools use materials printed by Pathway Publishers (see link).

      https://pathway-publishers.com/

      I hope this helps.

    3. Sister Su

      Rod & Staff is Still open and welcoming guests

      Dear Friends,

      The Amish people I know who homeschool (in addition to the other Plain people, Mennonites and Brethren) usually use a combination of Pathway Publishers, Rod & Staff, and some Christian Light Publications materials. These publishers not only publish curriculum, but also publish story books and historical books for all ages, in addition to Bibles, doctrinal books and Bible study materials.

      The second two are conservative, Plain Mennonite publishers, located in KY and VA.

      I was puzzled by the above mention of Rod & Staff being closed. I am on their mailing list for at least 25 years now, and have their current catalog. They have really been growing and their business is doing well, as long as I have known them. A few years ago they even opened up a similar but smaller printing facility in Wisconsin. I have used material from all three of the above publishers in homeschooling, and been very happy with all of them.

      I have visited Rod & Staff many times, and highly recommend it if you are ever anywhere near Kentucky! They offer detailed, personalized guided tours of their art department and printing facility. They have wonderful and free on-site hospitality apartments, and also supply the apartments with food for you. They have a good bookstore, and I highly recommend visiting! It is very educational, and it is easy to make friends with them.

      I remember many good conversations with the people we met there. They like to invite you for supper to one of their homes if at all possible, and you are very welcome to participate in the Wednesday night or Sunday morning church services held on the same property in the Church Meetinghouse. We have enjoyed that as well as a tour of and spending half a day at their on-site Christian school.

      People of all faiths are very welcome, as they really enjoy and are very glad for visitors! The one thing they do request is, that visitors wear modest clothing– covering your chest, shoulders and upper arms, and legs at least down to the knees.

      I was curious that you said they are closed, so I just now called them to check. They are open. Last I knew they do not have their own website, but there are some more progressive Mennonites who have listed many of their publications on a separate website. If anyone would like to receive their catalog or go visit Rod & Staff Publishers in Kentucky, just call this number: (606) 522-4348.

      I have heard that Christian Light Publishers in Virginia also offer tours and welcomes visitors, but we have not been able to personally make it there yet. For anyone who would like Christian Light’s phone number to receive their catalog or get information about visiting, you can call: 800-776-0478

      Blessings to you all.