Indoctrination at preschool, what’s an appropriate response?

After interviewing and visiting many, many, preK academies, I picked a secular one for my son (age 3) that has an outstanding curriculum, caring staff and an exemplary record with the state…and most importantly; a part time program. However, I’ve just discovered that his new teacher is demanding that his class pray before lunch and possibly nap time.

The prayers are of the generic “God” variety, but I object to anyone indoctrinating my child, or forcing them to recite a rote ritual in order to be fed. My husband and I do not subscribe to, or practice any sort of organized religion. We are possibly scientific humanists with possible deist tendencies, but we’re probably closer to Buddhists in universe beliefs. Either way, not really the brainwashing/indoctrination kinda people. I specifically asked, when interviewing the staff of this academy if there was any religious affiliation whatsoever and was assured that it was a secular business.

We live in the absolute buckle of the bible belt. We are probably the only non-Christians for miles in any given direction. It took months of wait list to get into this school after I decided that they offered the best program. There isn’t really any other good alternative program anywhere near us. I’m teaching The Boy to read, and we’re working on math and writing; but the school gives him 12+ hours of week of peer interaction that I can’t provide.

I don’t know what to do, and I’d like some advice. I’m aware that it’s not a “separation” issue, this is a private school. I’m not looking for any legal strategies, or ways to throw a better temper tantrum.

What I would like to know is how others would deal with the situation. Would you confront the teacher? Would you talk to the administrator? Would you decide that being “required” to pray a couple of times a week probably isn’t going to hurt anything, and not say anything to the school, but instead ramp up your time line for philosophical discussions about the concepts of the Cosmic Blueberry Muffin?

From the religious side of the house, and I know we have some deep thinking philosophical believers amongst us; what would be your response if you found out that a theoretically secular institution was teaching your child a conflicting faith?

My first instinct was fairly O’Hare…”How dare you teach my son this babbling nonsense?”…but really, it’s not that I object to him saying grace…if he wanted to say grace. For example, his grandparents say grace. If he had learned to say grace by watching his grandfather, I’d be ok with it. His grandfather is an incredibly well educated man, and if he wants to explain his concept of God to the Boy, well…that’s ok. But his grandparents realize that we had different beliefs, and have been really pretty kosher about not starting dialogue that might cause cognitive disconnect when the adults the Boy loves believe two different “truths”.

I welcome the Boy’s eventual spiritual quest, but I didn’t want it to be kick started by someone other than one of us.

My second issue is that either the school lied to me when they said it was secular, or they didn’t know what secular meant (scary). Or they somehow thing a Protestant prayer at lunch isn’t secular…because ya know, it doesn’t talk about Jesus, so it’s not religion. *boggle*

Anyway, tonight is parent teacher night, and I’m wondering how to approach the whole thing. What are your ideas?

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