Your little one may face a culture shock in daycare if your Christian values prevent him from doing things that are common in many daycare centers. That does not mean that you have to give up your values, but you can consider the types of activities and occurrences in state-run and secular daycare centers that could create problems for your child or uncomfortable questions that you may have to answer.
Prayer is a common activity in many Christian homes. Prayers can occur before meals, at the end of the day, when someone is ill, and when there is a serious problem. Attitudes toward prayer in secular daycare centers can be neutral, negative or antagonistic from classmates and teachers. If your child usually prays before meals, she might expect the other children to also pray before meals. If she experiences criticism, rebuke or ridicule, or if she is ignored, it could disturb her. Encourage her to bow her head and pray silently if she experiences problems. She can explain why she is praying if someone asks her and invite him to pray with her.
At home and at church, your child has Christian role models who demonstrate a standard of behavior you want your child to adopt. At the daycare center, the teachers could present an example that does not match what you prefer. While this does not mean that the adults or students are bad, it can mean that they don’t share your values. Teachers might exhibit negative habits, allow students to watch videos or television you find objectionable, or ignore the spiritual foundation of holidays such as Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving. You can acknowledge that the teacher does things not allowed at your house. Remind the child you expect him to obey your family rules at all times regardless of what the teacher does or what is allowed at school. Provide the best example you can on a consist basis so your child sees a positive role model, and remind him that Jesus is his best role model.
What Is Truth?
Children in daycare come from many different cultures and backgrounds. Your child may believe that the Bible is God’s word, that God created the world in six literal days, that Christmas is Jesus’ literal birthday, or that there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. If many of the kids and teachers in his daycare hold opposing views, your child might feel obligated to defend what he has been taught. Once your child begins school, he will face these same issues if you don’t enroll him in a Christian school, but he will have more maturity to help him deal with the problem.
Some Christian parents choose to restrict a child’s participation in certain daycare activities, such as Halloween activities, watching videos with magic or pagan themes, and exposure to other religions. Your child could feel excluded when she can’t participate in some activities, and she may experience negative comments from classmates or teachers. This can be problematic if you send her to school on days when those activities occur and don’t let her participate, or if you keep her home, and she knows she isn’t sick. Explain, “The things they are doing at school today don’t agree with what we believe is right. You can either stay home today and do something different or go to school for a part of the day when they are doing things we allow. If someone says something to you about not being there, you can tell him that your mom and dad won’t let you join in those activities.” This option gives your child some choice in the matter.