Boys who were to be taught lived with their mothers until they were seven. Then, they were transferred to a barracks under a paidonomos (a leader of boys).
The physical education was severe in order to develop endurance and willingness to live with a minimum of food, clothing, and rest. They did not wear shoes, regardless of the season. They were taught to steal without being detected. They were whipped as a test of endurance. Their sports included ball games, pentathlon, running, jumping, discus, javelin, and boxing. The pancratium included wrestling, boxing, gouging, and fighting without rules.
For mental and moral training, there were dances and music. The boys were taught to play the lyre and to sing both solo and in chorus. The Doric chant and dance developed patriotic and religious feeling.
Public education did not include reading and writing. These could be obtained by being private students of such people as Homer and Pindar.
Athletic training for girls consisted of the sports of the pentathlon. They danced, sang, marched, and took part in public religious rites. They lived at home, not in barracks. They were taught to be good housekeepers. They also became nurses and were involved in public policy discussions.
(This page was updated in December 2012.)