Children in Colonial America
The colonists, who settled in the New World beginning in
the early 1600s, had hard lives. The lives of colonial children
were also difficult. They had to follow strict rules and do a
lot of work around the home.
Even babies had a job to do! Crawling was considered an
animal behavior, so little ones wore stiff stays under their
clothes to help them stay upright, keep good posture, and
learn to stand and walk as soon as possible.
Image provided by http://clossroomelipart. cony
During mealtimes, children were expected to be “seen, and not heard.” This means
they tried their best to eat quickly and silently. Kids sometimes weren't even allowed to
sit at the table. Instead, they stood behind the adults, who passed food back to them.
Kids hada lot of chores to do, so they did not have much time for playing. Even young
children had jobs such as shelling corn (removing dried kernels from the cob) and
carding wool to prepare it for spinning.
Colonial children also learned differently than today’s students. Some communities had
school buildings, but often kids simply spent a little time each day using special
hornbooks to learn the alphabet and some basic reading skills.
By age 14, young people were already considered adults. Boys often spent four to seven
years as apprentices in order to learn a trade. A young man would often work long
hours for no pay while he practiced a skill such as blacksmithing.
A few girls had apprenticeships in crafts such as weaving, but most often girls learned to cook, take care of
the home, and raise children. Girls were expected to get married when they were still teenagers.
Stays: httpd www.history.org/history/clothing/children/cglossary.cfm (scroll down to “S” for the definition)
Hornbooks: http:/www.americanhornbooks.com/HornbookHistory html
Blacksmithing: http://www. history.org/Almanack/life/trades/tradebla.cfm
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