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A few Egyptians enjoyed long lives. Pepy II, last king of the Sixth  Dynasty, ruled for more than 90 years. But most people did not live past  age 35 or 40. Three or four out of every five children did not survive to  adulthood. Because so many children died young, children were only  gradually included in the life of the family and community. Childhood was brief but happy, with games, toys, and freedom.  
 
Egyptians often named (or nicknamed) their children after animals,  such as Monkey, Cat, Frog, Mouse, Hound, or Gazelle. The name was  usually based on the child’s behavior. Miit (cat) was a popular name for  girls. Children played games much like today’s: leap frog, running and  jumping, swimming, tug-of-war, ball games of many kinds, and a form  of hopscotch. 
 
 
Ancient Egyptian Children

Ancient Egyptian Children

Ancient Egyptian Children

Ancient Egyptian Children

Ancient Egyptian Children
 
Gymnastics, vaulting, and handball were popular with  both boys and girls. One ancient game, “goose steps,” is still played in  rural Egypt. In it, one player jumps over a barrier made by two seated  players.  Girls played with dolls and small figures of animals. Children  fished, swam, and rowed small boats. Some wealthy families had swimming pools.
 
 Late childhood was devoted to preparing for adulthood. A peasant  child’s life of hard labor began early, helping with planting and harvesting. Boys were considered fully adult  by age 15 or 16. They were expected  to take on adult responsibilities,  adopt a profession, and support their  families. Girls almost never learned to  read and write. 
 
 
Priests, nobles, and  the wealthy sent their sons to temple schools to study under the strict  guidance of priest-scribes.  A peasant  boy who showed extraordinary intelligence might be sent to school. This  was a major turning point in his family’s fortunes, because the few people  who could read ran the country.  
 
Most of a young man’s higher education was on-the-job training, alongside a master in his chosen  field. Youngsters studying to become priests, and students of mathematics, medicine, or astronomy, stayed at the temple school for  advanced education.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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