How Much Religion Do They Actually Teach at Church-run Pre-schools?

Updated on March 17, 2011
A.D. asks from Washington, DC
19 answers

Hello mamas! I'm trying to find a pre-school for my son to attend in the fall, and really the only ones we can afford are held at local churches. He will be 3 next December and will be going 2 days/a week for 2.5 hours a day. I know every mom says this--but he IS an extremely bright child. I'm not trying to brag. That is one of my huge pet peeves about moms, actually. I never tell people my kid is smart--i just always get other moms asking me in bewilderment "How old is he!?!" because he speaks so well and understands very mature concepts like family relationships (why his cousins are indeed his cousins, how his cousins have other grandparents, his aunt is mommy's sister, etc.), other people's emotions, builds complex sentences on his own, etc. Just this morning I overheard him talking to his baby sister, she was trying to grab one of his little fish toys and he told her "Nora, this is too small and dangerous for babies because you can swallow it and choke. Let me find you a toy that won't hurt you if you put it in your mouth". He is 27 months old! I was floored.

Anyways, back to my question. Have any of you put your child in a church run pre-school? We are not religious but we are spiritual, and I do not want my son being brainwashed into a religion we don't believe in at so young of an age. In your experience, how much time did the children actually spend doing "religious" activities at their church pre-school? Any pointers or advice would be much appreciated!

Edited: I also have a 6 month old monkey-ing around on my lap/attached to my breast while i'm typing everything. I didn't have a chance to write it out the way I had intended--I meant to say that I'm looking for a curriculum that will help him reach his highest potential because I cannot give that to him at home

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened? other mothers can truly be very cruel. I put that whole paragraph in there because i've been getting a lot of grief from other moms I know for even thinking about putting him in pre-school at such a young age. I can not keep up with him--you will all call me a lazy mom if i wrote in there though. I never get to brag about my son anywhere, I am made to feel guilty by other moms whenever my son is around their children because he is very advanced. You are all anonymous to me, and that is why I felt comfortable enough to FINALLY be able to brag about my son after 2.5 years of making excuses for him being advanced. Please keep your rude comments to yourself.

More Answers


answers from Albany on

Well then! I'm pretty sure a Church run preschool would not want YOUR child 'brainwashing' all the other kids in their class either!


Perhaps Yale has a program that will better suit your needs, I'm sure your mature child will win scholarships!


Added after SWH:
I'm sorry A., but many of us of Faith might be highly insulted by your suggestion that we are "Brainwashing" our children. If you were looking for only diplomatic answers, then perhaps you should've used more diplomatic wording in your question. When you solicit opinions on a public forum, you will get many differing ones, isn't that the point?

Incidentally, there are subtle differences between 'rudeness' and sarcasm. I'm sure your son would be able to explain them to you.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We are Catholic and my sons attend Catholic school. For my youngest, we enrolled him in a Lutheran church run program that was wonderful. While the philosophical differences between Lutherans and Catholics are fairly significant, we felt completely comfortable there and he had a wonderful experience. He learned about Gandi and China and community service and a bunch of other stuff that I was surprised by. He also learned to wash his hand and play is, after all, preschool. They did pray before meals and they sang a hymn.

I agree with the folks about the use of "brainwashing." Being non-religious is your family value and there is nothing wrong with that; just as your choice to be non-religious should be respected, so should the choices/beliefs of the individuals who work at the church run preschool, many of whom probably volunteer their services (which is part of their religious beliefs ) and it is this volunteer work that would make it affordable to you. Does this clarify why some might be upset by your use of "brainwashing?'

Before my current job I worked in gifted education at an Ivy League university. Unless your son is so highly gifted that he cannot function in a normal preschool environment (which is possible in some cases of highly gifted children) then you do not need to be worried about the curriculum and pushing him. Seriously. Let him be a child. If he IS that highly gifted, then he may be consider "special ed" (which by the way is supposed to serve both the highly gifted and the learning delayed) and that is a whole different issue. You would need to get him evaluated and then access resources through the school district.

BTW, part of the reason I left my last job was the difficulty in working with the parents of gifted children. It is very hard to find the balance between advocating for your child and becoming a helicopter parent who achieves a certain level of status due to her child's accomplishments. I am not saying you are doing this, just that it is something I have seen and I could tell horror stories of what helicopter parenting does to highly gifted kids. I happen to be the mother of a highly gifted son as well, so I do know what it can be like to get the questions (especially in the toddlers years) and I knew from my work that the best response was deflection. In other words, I found something positive to say about their child so that the focus would not be on my son. I am also careful to reward my son for his effort and not his grades or easy successes. I could go on and on about gifted kids, but I won't. I just wanted to give you a few ideas. He sounds like a lovely boy and I am sure you will find a great place for him that reflects your family's values.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

OK. You know what church and Sunday school are, and what a church run pre school is. It's a Christian environment. With bible stories. And religious songs. And loving teachers teaching the ten commandments. And saying the lord's prayer. And praying before snacks and for fellow classmates who need it. My husband and I, ex Lutherans who now do the worldly "spiritual" thing and don't go to church are not at all threatened to give our kids a Christian foundation for the other perks, such as nice people and disciplined kids vs child psychy type places, knowing that it's great for kids and we loved it when we were little. There are universal elements to the premise that are valuable no matter what religion or lack thereof a child chooses later. I love to see my daughter memorizing verses I've forgotten and talking about love and how God loves everyone. She's very advanced too, which is why we put her in a program that wasn't just play all day daycare. We're starting my son next year.

Pointers? If you're scared your kids would be "brainwashed by the inferior Christians with the religion you don't believe in" then DEFINITELY do not mooch off of their program because you can't afford pricier ones. I mean, you sound downright disgusted with the whole idea, which is really not fair to the school, who is probably very loving and caring of the kids who attend, and who really believes the foundation they are giving is good for kids. You'd be scoffing at them inside and your kids would get a mixed message about why you're sending them there.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I sent all three of my kids to a Jewish pre-school. We are not Jewish. They simply had the best program in the area and I LOVED that my kids were exposed to another religion and culture. They celebrated all the major Jewish holidays and learned a lot about Judaism. I then sent one of my daughters to Catholic school for K and 1st. We are not Catholic. I just loved the program and the academics. She learned about the Bible and was exposed to Christian ideas and beliefs. My FIL is Muslim - understandably, my kids have seen that religion being practiced, too. None of my kids were brainwashed, because the BIGGEST influence in their lives was NOT the schools, but their parents, me and their dad. They're now in 3rd, 4th and 7th and don't practice any religion, but they sure do realize that there are similarities and differences and that our differences are far fewer than our similarities. I don't think "brainwash" is the term you're looking for. It's "exposure" and being exposed to different religions and ideologies to your own can only benefit your children. And don't feel bad about sending your kids to pre-school at so young of an age. I sent mine at 2yrs old. They LOVED it, it was the best decision for US. Whatever decision you make will be the best for YOU.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Honestly, each preschool will be different. The best thing to do would be to visit and ask directly. It will vary. Some will say a blessing/prayer before snacks. Some might have a prayer during circle time. Some may even have a chapel service on Fridays.

Speak to the director and a teacher and ask what you want to know.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You have to talk to the directors regarding the curriculum. However, it sounds like a church run school would not be a good fit for your little Einstein.

The "brainwashing" comment alone is a red flag. If you are already thinking that way, then you don't need to enroll your son into a religious program. You would set him up to be confused later, unless of course he is a saint and already understands it all.

A different type of school or one within whatever religon you do believe would be the best option.

Many church programs are highly sought after spots and it is not fair for you to take the spot of a child who could benefit completely from the program when you don't understand how the program works.

Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Yikes! Seems like you gave a little way too much info for the simple question that you are asking.

Back to the main question tho - It is a preschool not bible school so most of the time it is very minimal. My son attends a church based preschool and the only real religious thing he has learned is a small prayer they say before they eat their snacks.

Good luck!

(Totally agree with Momma L.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I guess it's important to know if they sacrifice chickens or pray to a cow, but we all have different ideas of what 'brainwashing' means. Ask the Church directly.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I had my son in a church preschool because there were no alternatives available. I went there before I signed him up to look at the premises and to ask questions. They told me that even though the preschool is affiliated with the church, they don't teach any religion during preschool hours. The only thing they did was celebrate Easter and Christmas with a bit more of a religious emphasis, which didn't bother me.

I would visit the preschools and ask them directly. They understand and I'm sure they will be honest and open with you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

we are christian, and my son goes to a lutheran preschool. Once a week they have chapel time with the pastor where they sing songs and hear a Bible story. Also in class time they also have a weekly Bible verse and theme. I love it and think it's great!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Depends on the church and program. Ask them before you enroll, they will be up front with you. If you aren't happy with it, don't enroll your child in it. I feel like it is your choice to take your child to a church or not, but don't go to church and expect that noone is "allowed" to talk religion there. There are plenty of secular or neutral places. I for one want my son to have some "religious activities" so I sought a place that has similar views, though not really my denomination. At that age, I don't really care because it will be so basic anyway. At his school, they do pray at lunch time, and on Wednesday mornings they go to chapel and hear a Bible story and give an offering of food for the food bank. Holidays are more religious centered than Santa and Bunny. That's probably about it. When he gets a little older, I would like to put him in a private religious school and expect them to teach more on Bible than they do now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If you aren't bragging, then why does it even matter that you mentioned how smart he was and went on for a paragraph about it, especuially since you find it a pet-peeve about 'other moms'? His intellect doesn't really apply to the question. Anyways...

For the church preschools, they usually say a little prayer before snacks and do a little bible story. Noah's Ark, Daniel in the Lion's den, Jonah and the Whale... that kind of stuff. Really tame and no brainwashing. From what our director told me, they purposefully keep the Bible stories light and minimal of any actual doctrine b/c so many different faiths/non-faiths attend the schools.

If you find a good school, talk to the director and ask to see the curriculum. Some schools are more relaxed and simple in what they teach than others. But really, for the age group, they will likely not be getting into anything heavy. Even if they did though, ultimately, as a parent you can do damage control fairly easily.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you are going to enroll in a private school expect to get the Christian teaching which I am all for and agree that the bible is an integral part of the teaching and learning experience vs being in a public school.

Look at other options if you are not into this type of teaching. I think its great that you have a bright and articulate son...Continue to cherish and love him. you are obviously doing something right as a Mom. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Many churches have a preschool in them that have nothing to do with religion - they are just renting the space. Both me and my brother went to 3 year old preschool (called "nursery school" back then) at a local church and there was no religious instruction at all. When we went to preschool as 4 year olds, it was through our public school district.

Have you researched Montessori programs at all? I mentioned this when I answered your other post.

Keep in mind too that even if a child is potentially gifted, they still benefit from play-based learning usually used in most preschools - it might look like "just play" to us but it is really trying to make learning fun for them and allow them to learn things through their natural inclinations to play.

EDITED TO ADD: I am sorry, I got your question mixed up with another that was very similar. To that post I had mentioned Montessori as an option for a mom who wanted to start her child in preschool, but she wasn't turning 3 until after Christmas and would not be able to start in Sept. She did not want any religion-based preschool either. Here is that post, if you find it helpful:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Our Church run preschool did not have any religous teaching. Just ask before you sign up. Dont feel you have to explain WHY you put him in preschool if anyone is judging you for putting your child in preschool to expand his experiences, dont defend your self just chalk them up to jealous or crazy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I did not read all of the responses--I'm sorry some were rude. My son went to a Catholic preschool for 2 years (it's a Pre-K through 8 school and he's in kindergarten there now). His school is very religious. I am okay with it, since we are Catholic. In my opinion, and I'm not trying to hurt feelings/be rude, the preschools attached to schools are more educational. And, most "preschools" that offer programs for 2 year olds are more like childcare. Most 2 year olds are not as advanced as your child, so he will not be learning advanced material. I would keep him home until he is 3 and then find a preschool attached to a school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I haven't read any of the responses, just your posting and "what happened"... First of all, YOU BRAG, you should, what a very smart child you do have...

Now to your question, I don't know how much religion they are putting into the children, but if you are spiritual why does that bother you so much? A lot of these mother day out that are put on by the churches are to give support to these mothers and understand the importance of good education with biblical principles.

Maybe a better option if you don't want any religion involve is see if you school district offers a preschool. I know our school district has a great preschool program for all kids of kids, with needs and just for learning.

Good Luck finding one, and I think you have every right to brag on your son!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

It depends on the school. I'm not Christian but when my daughter was little, II found a church pre-scool that I could afford. I yanked her out after she came home in tears one day. Seems that the teacher had been giving a Bible lesson, and my daughter, raised her hand to share something that I had told her about the story. The teacher told her that her mommy was going to hell.
Be VERY careful putting your child into a religious setting if it's not the religion you practice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Huntsville on

my son is in a church run preschool. They do 15 to 30 minutes of chapel 1x weekly. That's it.

They spend more time on academics. In other posts I have mentioned my 4 yearold is already reading and doing math. He is also participating in spanish 1 x weekly and music 2 x weekly and performs 2x a year in front of 600 or so ppl. Just find out which methods, etc.. the school uses and the basic schedule. Most churches use this ministry as a way to help parents, not to brainwash your child. :)

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions