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Prayer in Secular Preschool. WWYD? UPDATE #27

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
My 3.75 year old goes to a secular (meaning, not affiliated with a church) preschool. She came home tonight reciting a meal prayer that her teacher taught her to say at lunch. My family is not a member of an organized religion.

While I don't think there is any harm in her reciting a prayer, I am concerned that this preschool is taking it upon themselves to provide religious education when I did not sign up for it. I will not be witholding religion from my children, should they desire to study it, but I wasn't planning on introducing it until they could understand the conversations we may have about it.

I am torn however, if I should let this go, or say something to the teacher about being sensitive to the fact that not all of the children in her class believes as she does. I don't want to upset her, or get her in trouble, but I also don't really want her providing a religious education for my child without my knowledge or consent. Particularly because it was never mentioned in the curriculum or tour when I signed up for this school. I chose it specifically because it was secular.

What would you do?
post #2 of 64
I couldn't be the first one to read and not post, I would talk to her about it, in private, and let her know how you feel. Religion is a very personal thing, and she should know better than to share her religious beliefs with such young children, especially when, as you said, the pre-school is a secular one. I would be furious, but only because I am not a big fan of prostilizing (SP?) in any way. Maybe she was making a prayer for herself and the child overheard it, but in any case, I think in this setting, especially, it is inappropriate to share such things, and I don't see how she could be unaware of this... is she an older or younger woman....and I should have asked this first, but what did the prayer entail?
post #3 of 64
Thread Starter 
The prayer (in three year old mumbo-jumbo) goes something like "God is great, God is good, thank you for this food" It's the very common prayer often used before eating. My kiddo recites in in such a way (the singsong voice) that I think the kids are saying it all at the same time.

The teacher is perhaps in her twenties? Maybe early 30's?
post #4 of 64
Well, I wouldn't like it and I'd tell the teacher how I felt.
Since your daughter is so young, she may not have any clue what she's saying.
Bringing up a conversation about it may lead to nothing at all.
But I would open up a way for your daughter to start the conversation in case she does have a question.
post #5 of 64
Personally, I would be livid.
I wouldn't express that to my child however and I would take it up with the teacher and basically explain in a calm straight forward manner.
post #6 of 64
I would bring it up if you have a problem with it.

Would you be okay with a blessing (not prayer) that doesn't mention god? There was a thread a couple months ago where people shared thier mealtime prayers/blessings, with many nice options. I've also seen some nice blessings at the waldorf homeschoolers site... I'll see if I can find a link.
http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/blessings.htm

I personally think that a blessing before meals is a good way to help children learn mindfulness and gratitude. But I'd be willing to bet that the teacher didn't realize some families might be uncomfortable with the mention of god.
post #7 of 64
I'd be ticked and I'd let the director know that I was ticked and that you specifically sought out a secular preschool.
post #8 of 64
I would be annoyed and I would mention it, first to the teacher and then if necessary to the director.

I think that a pre-snack ritual is lovely and meaningful, but does not have to mention God (and indeed, at a non-affiliated preschool, should not do so).
post #9 of 64
I'd be angry too! I chose DD's preschool specifically because I was sure they were sensitive about this kind of thing. We live in a very religious part of the country and it's important to me that DD doesn't have this pushed on her before I can explain things well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
I would bring it up if you have a problem with it.

Would you be okay with a blessing (not prayer) that doesn't mention god? There was a thread a couple months ago where people shared thier mealtime prayers/blessings, with many nice options. I've also seen some nice blessings at the waldorf homeschoolers site... I'll see if I can find a link.
http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/blessings.htm

I personally think that a blessing before meals is a good way to help children learn mindfulness and gratitude. But I'd be willing to bet that the teacher didn't realize some families might be uncomfortable with the mention of god.
This is what they use at my DD's Walforf oriented preschool. I specifically chose this school because it was not religious, but I'm fine with this.
post #10 of 64
I would be angry and I'd say something to the teacher before another day passed.
post #11 of 64

it would upset me

and i would either talk to her directly, or to the director. there is a reason why you put her in that school specifically, and if you wanted her to learn to recite prayers, then you would have her in a religious school.
post #12 of 64
I'd be annoyed too. To put it in another persepctive, think how many people would be complaining if the teacher did some kind of Pagan or Buddhist blessing.

It's easy enough to find something to say that doesn't mention God. How about that one that goes "Through the lips and over the tongue, look out stomach, here it comes!" (or whatever it is)

But seriously, our preschool has the kids say some kind of grace like "Thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the friends we meet, thank you for (something else) thank you for this happy day."

Now some people might interpret this as thanking God but since they don't say God at all, you can also look at it as thanking the teachers, KWIM?
post #13 of 64
I would be furious, as an atheist, and I would talk to the teacher right away.

The charter school we're planning to send the kids to says a "thank you to the earth" kind of thing before eating, but it's not at all religious and it goes with the core curriculum which involves a huge focus on environmentalism.
post #14 of 64
If it were a public school, she'd be fired, and rightly so I think. Religion belongs in the home and in the church of YOUR choice (if you choose a church at all), not in a secular school. I'd request that she stop the prayer immediately and if she didn't I'd take it to the principal and higher if necessary.
post #15 of 64
At my daughter's preschool, they are very careful to only use poems or songs that are vague and non-sectarian - def. no mention of God per se. There are plenty of such things out there that are appropriate for use before eating - should be no problem for your daughter's teacher to find one once she's aware she' s making someone uncomfortable. I think at my daughter's preschool they use it more as a way of making sure the kids wait until everyone is together to eat.
post #16 of 64
I'd be very angry; that teacher's actions were completely inappropriate. There is no way I would be able to let it go.
post #17 of 64
I'd suggest that she switch to something else. She is being presumptious.

My children's daycare instead uses, "We sit quite still and softly say thank you for our food today. Let's eat."
post #18 of 64
The whole "thank you" thing is odd to me... who exactly are we thanking? I know someone said the teacher but in DS's preschool, the parents provide the snack on a rotating basis. The parent is not usually there, so saying "thank you" to someone who is not there seems a little strange.

Maybe saying something like "We are grateful for this food" would be better.

Anyway - I wouldn't be upset personally, though I would think it was presumptuous and I can totally understand how someone *would* be upset. I don't think it should be done without everyone being on board with it. Since you chose a secular preschool deliberately, I do think you should speak to someone about it. The teacher should be made aware of the fact that not everyone is OK with praying to God in school! : (How she could not be aware of this already is beyond me)
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDivineMissE View Post
The prayer (in three year old mumbo-jumbo) goes something like "God is great, God is good, thank you for this food" It's the very common prayer often used before eating. My kiddo recites in in such a way (the singsong voice) that I think the kids are saying it all at the same time.

The teacher is perhaps in her twenties? Maybe early 30's?
The very same thing took place with my DS when he was about two and attending daycare. The very same prayer even.
I told the director, very calmly, that we were not christian and did not engage in christian prayers. Furthermore that she, as the director, has a responsibility of informing me if she plans on providing religious instruction so that I have ample time to find another daycare and withdraw my son.
As far as I know the praying stopped that day. I will admit fully that as a pagan I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder when it comes to me or my children being in a situation where christian practices are foisted on us. I understand where you are coming from. I get that it is healthy for children to learn to have gratitude for what they have in their lives, including food, but that can easily be incorporated at circle time ( let's share something we are happy about today) or simply saying " yay we have yummy food to eat today!!!" at snack time. I see no need to "thank" anyone for being alive and taking sustenance for my body.
post #20 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDivineMissE View Post
The prayer (in three year old mumbo-jumbo) goes something like "God is great, God is good, thank you for this food" It's the very common prayer often used before eating. My kiddo recites in in such a way (the singsong voice) that I think the kids are saying it all at the same time.

The teacher is perhaps in her twenties? Maybe early 30's?
Before you go any further, make sure it's coming from the teacher and not just a companion sitting at the table. I would go in very non-confrontational and explain the situation to her. If it is the teacher teaching it, then she will understand. If it's a child saying it and your dd picking that up, then it opens the door for further conversation about religion between you and your dd.
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