Children’s roles

Children in colonial times had busy lives.  Many of them would work for their families, while others would play or go to school.  They stayed busy almost all day long.


Since most of the colonists lived in rural areas or country areas, they would have to help take care of the farms and take care of the animals.

Children were in charge of doing things like taking the animal’s food and water, milking the cows, and gathering eggs from chickens.

Children also were neededl to help their dad on the farm and doing thing jobs such as getting the fruits and vegetables and the herbs from the garden.


The boys that lived on the farms were good helpers to their dad.  They would help with things like hunting and fishing.

The boys would help to harvest the wheat and corn and the other crops that were grown on the farm.

Boys of Trade

Other things that the boys would do was to be apprentices.  An apprentice was someone that would work under someone else that had a trade.  The boys would usually start being an apprentice when they were six years old, and they would work and work until they knew the trade perfectly.

Some of the boys would build furniture, fix things in their homes, and they would learn to do different kinds of jobs.


The girls helped their mom in the house.  They would help to keep the house clean and help to take care of their brothers and sisters.  Girls would help their moms to do things such as cooking, sewing, and knitting.


For a girl to learn to sew, she would have to learn to shear the sheep in the field.  After she learned to do that, she would learn how to thread a needle and to spin the wool into the thread.

This was hard work, but it paid off.  Girls were able to use their skills to make clothing, blankets, and other things.  Girls could use these items to sell in the marketplace, and many of the girls worked at the shops in the city.


Another skill that the girls learned was to make candles and soap.  The candles would have to be made by tying a string to a stick and then putting the line into a pot of boiling water and wax.  When the first wax was on the string, it would have to get hard.  They would do this over and over until a full candle was made.


Many kids were not educated, and the ones that were able to go to school or get tutored were usually the kids from wealthy families.  After a while, an elementary school was made in each city that had 50 or more families.

The children that were not able to get an education were sometimes taught to read at home by their mom, dad, or siblings.  Children that were from the meddling and gentry class sometimes were taught to read and write by slaves.

When children did go to school, they only had one piece of paper and were taught to write the alphabet, to read, and about the Bible.

The most important subject in school was the Bible.


Children of the colonial times did have toys, but most of the toys were made by things around the home.  Children would have dolls that their mom made, and those that were from rich families would have toys that were imported from England.

Some children had dollhouses, pull toys, and more.  The kids were creative and would use things like strings to play “Cat’s Cradle” and rocks to play hopscotch with.

Facts About Children’s Roles:

  • Even if children went to school, they were still required to go home and do housework or to learn trades.
  • Some of the colonies made it a law that the children had to learn the Bible.
  • Children would go to school six days a week from eight until four.
  • Girls did not go to school in high school, but some boys would go on to college.
  • Many children died when the settlers were first coming to the New World.
  • No matter what, the children needed to be educated because they died at a very young age.

What Did You Learn?

Were children important during colonial times?  
Yes.  Children were very important during colonial times.

Why were children important?  
The children helped to work and helped their parents to make sure things were done.

What did boys do?  
Most of the boys worked on the farm, hunted and fished.  Some of them even learned trades.

What did the girls do?  
The girls learned to help their mom around the house and helped to take care of their brothers and sisters.

Why did children grow up so fast?
Children grew up fast because they died at a young age.