This post is not going to make me popular with some people that I know since two out of my last three churches operate preschools. Nevertheless, I have to write what I really believe and that might not be what certain people what to hear. When I talk about preschool here I am talking about structured programs away from home before kindergarten. I know kindergarten is really preschool but kindergarten with five and six year old children could have educational value.
My generation generally did not go to preschools and I think that my generation did as well or better than any generation since then academically or socially. Preschool or nursery school or day care in this country started for the most part after the kick off of the federal Head Start program in 1965. In the 1960′s less than 10 percent of children went to any day care before kindergarten. Today that figure is over 70 percent and certain states are just an inch away from making preschool a universal requirement for all children.
There is no convincing proof that kids that grow up without any preschool are any less developed than those that went to preschool. The only kids likely helped by preschool are those kids that would be neglected otherwise. Preschools are really a baby sitting service for the parents but a parent really needs to spend time with their young children for proper bonding to take place. The disrespect children have toward parents that is so evident today could partly be the result of parents sending their children to preschool.
I do understand that mothers believe they need to work for a career or to make end meet and I know that those that believe this also need somewhere to place their children. Nevertheless, I believe I can make good arguments against the belief that both parents need to work. When all is considered I do not think anything worthwhile is achieved by having both parents working when there are children in the home. However, giving my argument for that is far beyond the scope of this post. I also realize that there are many single parents in this fallen world and that single parent have to work. The issue here is really not the need for day care centers in this nation.The real issue for this post is should churches run preschools?
Like I said, two out of the last three local churches that I have attended have a preschool. I was on the church board in one of the churches and got myself in a rather uncomfortable position because I really was not hot on the church going over a half a million dollars in debt for their preschool expansion plan. I urged caution because I knew this economic downturn was coming and I told them so, but before the real estate collapse happened who in Arizona could even believe such a thing was possible? The economic circumstances since then at that church have been really tight because of their expansion and because of the economic downturn, but on the positive side they did decide to use the building to go beyond preschool. They were teaching kindergarten and now they also teach 1st and 2nd grade. That is good, because I am all for churches building Christian K-through-12 schools. Still, faith to go in debt to build Christian schools better not be just some presumption.
I really know nothing about the preschool at the church where I am now at except that it takes a lot of building space. I also know that the other day they had an extensive graduation ceremony for preschoolers and I never saw so many people in attendance in the Church on any evening I can remember. You might have thought that their children just graduated from a Christian college. When I was told it was a preschool graduation my jaw just dropped. Was this Graduation really for the preschool kids or was it really for their parents? I think I know the answer to that.
So what are issues that makes me think that churches should not run preschools?
I think well meaning churches are enabling a secular practice coming out of sociology and psychology that probably actually hinders child parent bonding and I think that group think in these structured classes actually hinders the development of innovative and critical thinking.
The churches with preschools are really running a baby sitting business. If there is a need in your town for a Christian business to baby sit children of Christians than someone should start one. To go into debt and risk the church building for a preschools is not wise. Those that think churches do not go broke by going in debt are not doing their your homework. I think I recently read that 20 percent of large churches in this nation are now in financial trouble due to their building programs. Following the scriptures about not getting in debt is not showing a lack of faith as some people would suggest.
Please do not tell me that daycare is a ministry of the church to the community as if three and four years old kids will learn Christianity at your daycare center. Toddles have faith in preschool but it is faith in what you taught them. They also have faith that Santa Claus will be their personal provider at Christmas. This faulty thinking is a good part of the reason why half the children that accepted Christ as a young child depart from Him in college. The facts are that children cannot choose to believe until they can think for themselves and can also choose not to believe and not say the words that people coached them to say. Even children in cults will tell their parents or the teacher the words that they were taught.
The preschool takes a heck of a lot of the time from the church leadership and for what, to run a business for kids whose parents mostly do not even go to your church? Sure jobs are created but they would be created elsewhere if the church was not doing it. Not to mention that about half of the time in church board meetings and business meetings are talking about preschool issues not the church.
There are serious liability and accountability issues in child care. One major incident or misconduct by one preschool attendant (that may not even be a member of your church) and at the very least your church will split. It happens!
(Fawning over children that got through a year of a paid baby sitting service because you could or would not spend time with them? Get real, people.)
Okay, I am not telling churches with already establishment preschools to just get rid of them. That would be irresponsible. But I would explore options to completely separate the daycare business from the Church and if I were in a church that did not have a preschool I would not be looking to start one. Better to build a Christian school if you really feel your church is called to educate children.
Don Koenig founded www.thepropheticyears.com website in 1999 after almost thirty years of independent study on the Bible and learning from many astute teachers within Christendom. Don created his website to write about Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and his Christian worldviews. Don wrote a free Revelation commentary ebook in 2004 named "The Revelation of Jesus Christ Through The Ages". The World and Church and Bible Prophecy section of this website was started in 2007.