Sending a "secular" child to a religious preschool? — The Bump
Pre-School

Sending a "secular" child to a religious preschool?

*No judgement or commentary about beliefs, please*
Again(!), not trying to start a debate, but I am simply wondering if any of you who are not religious struggled to find a decent secular preschool in your area. We are basically faced with sending DD to one of two strongly religious preschools (meaning the religion aspect permeates many of the activities and teachings) or a secular preschool that doesn't necessarily have the teaching philosophy that we would like. I know she is young and the specific subject matter probably won't matter much, but we are apprehensive about sending her someplace where she may come home asking all kinds of questions to which we don't have decent answers (she is extremely inquisitive and advanced in her communication). Obviously at some point in her childhood we will expose her to religion and discuss why people may have different beliefs, but I'm not sure we want to have her education structured around it. Have any of you been in this situation, and if so, what was your decision-making process?

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Re: Sending a "secular" child to a religious preschool?

  • edited June 2014
    We are not religious and we send our daughter to a religious preschool and will likely send DS if we don't move before then. It is a nice preschool and the people are nice.

    The idea of sending my kids to a religious school didn't bother me. I attended a private Catholic University and attended church with many of my religious friends growing up, even though I wasn't raised religious or am religious today. It is not a new concept for me. Religion is also not a new concept for my kids since the ILs are very religious and are exposed to praying and religious talk when around them.

    I would just start discussing religion and praying in very simple terms (simple explanations seem to suffice at this age) and make sure you answer his/her questions to his/her satisfaction when he/she has them if you decide to send your LO to a religious preschool.
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  • ss+elss+el member
    DS goes to Catholic school. At that age, they don't teach them doctrine or anything like that. Mostly Bible stories that are examples of how we treat others and a few short prayers for mealtimes and to start and end their day. Most of his preschool classmates were actually there out of convenience - half day Universal Preschool, great childcare program that covered the rest of the day, and won't be back for Kindergarten. If you like the school, I wouldn't worry about the religion for the short time your DD will be there. :)
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  • We aren't religious, though my Dad's parents etc were first gen immigrant Jews. We chose a Jewish school because it is the experience we wanted for the kids. The praying is mostly in Hebrew so it's just some extra language exposure. Next year my youngest will be in the Spanish immersion classroom at the Jewish school and also have the option of four other languages that he can study during enrichment hours (Mandarin Chinese, Russian, French, and I don't remember the rest :) because the school is attached to a community center the kids have use of a professional theatre, voice and music department (they put on professional shows there) gym, Olympic and kiddie pools, a library, computer room and teacher, and an amazing set of enrichment activities that they can go directly to after the regular day ends at one- tball, ballet, languages, swim, art, music, Lego, computers, karate, you get the picture- all in the same location. I've always been sort of culturally Jewish so I guess it doesn't rub me the wrong way. I came very close to pulling him out (to avoid the 20 min commute) and putting him into a Presbyterian school but realized it would get my hackles up if he came home talking about God and Jesus etc- like I said the praying in Hebrew doesn't bother me at all. My parents conditioned me to sort of sleeve religion to be honest- my mother had a really bad experience with religion as a child and I can remember as a kid there were these people who would try to "save" you at the mall. It ame me feel sick to my stomach and pressured- so again I think that is why I would have had a visceral reaction to the Christian prayers in English but the Jewish prayers don't do a thing to me- I have never had a group of Jews tell me that I'll go to hell if I don't accept Jesus.
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  • I mostly lurk on this board.
    I don't go to church, but my kids go to a church-affiliated preschool. The director is Jewish, so she includes all Jewish and Christian holidays in the curriculum, as well as Kwanzaa. They say grace before meals. DS is now almost 5. Most of his questions about God and religion are coming from things his friends have told him. I would probably not send my kids to a very church-y school, but a little bit is fine with me.
    DS born 8/8/09 and DD born 6/12/12.
  • My husband is an atheist and I'm a believer, but I'm very laid back about it.  We didn't specifically look for a religious preschool, but the school we liked best happened to be religious.  

    Actually, it worked out well.  We do want out kids to know about religion and understand religious observance, and this was a way we could achieve that.  Added bonus:  my ILs are very, very Catholic, and it has always irked them that we don't regularly attend church.  Hearing his grandchildren sing songs about Jesus and ask a blessing before meals made my FIL a little less uptight about our parenting.

    In the long term, their Christian preschool experience did not significantly influence them to become super-religious.  My DD "came out" as an atheist in 7th grade.  My DS still believes in God right now, but he's only 9, so anything could happen as he grows up.

    If it's an awesome preschool, it'll handle religious education in a gentle, open-minded way, and it'll be fine.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • llambrosellambrose member
    edited June 2014
    I have struggled with the same thing. My daughter has been attending a non religious preschool/daycare that is partially supported by the university where I work for two years however they recently raised their prices by quite a bit which has lead me to look for an alternative. Most of the non religious programs in our area are a lot more expensive than the church ones. I have settled on a Methodist preschool that doesn't seem to push the religious aspect too much. We are not religious though we were both raised Catholic.
  • SO is agnostic and I'm Baptist.  He and I both preferred a secular school for the curriculum (the biggest concern being evolution vs creationism) but, living in the bible belt, no such school exists.  We are going to enroll DS in a local Christian school; I don't mind the religious aspect of the school per se but I will be monitoring his science assignments and will fill in any holes at home via various means.

    For full disclosure, we plan to take DS to church but we're wary of churches that teach a literal translation of the bible and wanted to be involved in his exposure to religious teachings which is why we preferred a secular curriculum at school.  I don't think I'm coming from the exact same area of concern that you are, but wanted to share that, yes, we, too, can't find a secular school - good, bad or otherwise.
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  • I guess it would depend on how much religious education we are talking about.  I used to be a kindergarten teacher at a Catholic school.  Only 2 of the 18 kids in my class were Catholic.  There was an element of religious education, but that was certainly not the primary focus.  We said a short prayer before lunch, read a bible story and craft once a week and the class went to mass twice a year (the older kids went every week).  To me, even if I wasn't religious I wouldn't have a problem with a small exposure such as this. 
  • erbearerbear member
    My two both go to religious schools, even though we aren't particularly religious. DD1 is in a Quaker school, which we LOVE. DD2 is in a Jewish school, which we like. She gets great care there, and she's picked up some interesting culture and religious pieces which don't bother us at all, but the overall philosophy of the school sometimes doesn't jive, and we are switching her to the Quaker school next year.
    "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies. God damn it, you've got to be kind." - Kurt Vonnegut
  • yeah.yeah. member
    both of mine go to religious school and we aren't religious. It's been fine. They come home with some practices from school but nothing worth being up in arms about. 

    That said, we're talking Quaker and Jewish. I wouldn't send my kids to an evangelical Christian school.
  • Yes. I'm a very laid back believer and DH is atheist and our son will go to a Christian Prek. The district we used to live in had public Prek and my older 2 did that. I'm a teacher. DS2 needs child care and I'm a believer in children having a preschool background. This is a accredited school that provides both; furthermore, so much is expected in KG these days. I want him learning letter and letter sounds. the daycare didn't do this well. DS attended a Christian daycare too, all they did was pray before lunch and hear a few bible stories. NBD in my book.

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