2016-06-30
The best local preschool you've found is in a nearby synagogue-but you're not Jewish. Should you send your child anyway? More and more parents are cutting across religious lines when enrolling their kids in preschool. For example, according to a recent study commissioned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, approximately 83 percent of the children enrolled in Lutheran early childhood education are not Lutheran.

"Though we're Jewish, we sent our son to a wonderful nursery school in a Presbyterian church near our home," says Wendy Rosenblum, a New Jersey mom. "The school had a lot of diversity and didn't press Christian beliefs on the kids." She feels that "Andrew was too young to absorb anything except that his teachers were loving and the school was fun."

Toni Bickart, co-author of Pre-School for Parents, suggests what to ask if you're considering sending your child to a school of a different faith:

  • Know what the school expectations are. Are parents expected to do anything involved with the faith? For example, at a Jewish school, sometimes parents are expected to take turns coming in on Friday for a Shabbat celebration.
  • Know what the expectations are for the children. Is the child required to participate in faith-related activities? Can he or she be excused from religious instruction?
  • Parents should also know how the religious values are taught or practiced at the school. For younger kids, for whom religious lessons may be interspersed throughout every activity, it's harder to "opt out" of religious instruction.
  • Find out how many children of a different faith there are at the school. Is the school comfortable with that? Can you talk to other parents about their experiences at the school?

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