Kids in Greece

Do you know the story of Moses? Does it sound a little like this? If a family didn’t want their baby, maybe because it was sick or they were poor or because it was a girl, they could just leave it outside to die. Anyone could take the child home and adopt it. Some would raise it as a slave. A rich person would hire someone to nurse the baby. Moses’ mother didn’t just abandon her son. She put him in a strategic location where she knew the women of Pharaoh’s family would find him. Moses still needed a miracle; his death had been commanded.

Children were babies until they were three. Then they were weaned and given a jug from which to drink. We read about children being weaned at age three in the Bible as well. Children had toys such as dolls, hoops, yo-yos, and hobby horses. Balls were made from animal bladders.

hobby horse
Hobby Horse (modern day)

Kids were kept home until the age of seven, when only the boys went off to school — the boys from families who could afford a teacher. A girl would be taught at home. As such, many people didn’t know how to read, especially women.

Girls learned to care for a home, things like cleaning, cooking, and making things. They learned to weave. Boys learned the three R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) as well as music and poetry. They used the abacus in school and wrote in wax to do their lessons by scraping out things with a stick which could then be erased by just smearing it back down. They memorized long stories and poems.


Boys also trained their bodies, as future soldiers. They not only did fitness, but trained in using weapons such as the spear. Their sports area was called the gymnasium, which is what we call big rooms used for sports today.

vase with soldiers using spears

Did you wonder why a family may not want a girl baby? It’s because of the culture of the time. The sons grew up and stayed with their families. They provided income for the family when they were older and would take care of their parents when they were older. The daughters would not only leave home and help someone else’s family, but they took a dowry with them. They had to offer a gift to the family she was marrying into. A girl with a large dowry would have a lot of men who wanted to marry her. Fathers chose husbands for the daughters who would be married as young teenagers.

Boys would get jobs such as farmer, sailor, fisherman, metal worker, builder, potter, etc. Some students got to continue their academic education as they got to be teenagers instead of being put to work. Aristotle is a famous philosopher. He studied in the Athens, Greece under Plato, another famous thinker.

Ancient Greek homes were similar to those in the Indus Valley, being small and walled off with a courtyard in the middle where they could have a garden. Their houses were made out of clay and mud baked into bricks by the sun. Houses would crumble and be rebuilt.

Their meals would include bread, fruit, fish, eggs, and cheese. Only rich families had other meats besides fish. They wore tunics and went barefoot or wore sandals. Hats were worn to provide shade from the sun.

Homes had no bathrooms. Rich people would have slaves carry water to their home. Others would go to the community bath house or local stream to wash.

carrying a jug of water to the house

Picture Credits:

Public Domain except Hobby Horse