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December 6, 2004
When selecting an early care and education program for their child, many parents select a program that includes and supports their faith. Some faith-based settings are located in their communities near their home and others are located in urban areas near work-related locations. Faith-based programs are also now an option for parents who receive public assistance for their child's early childhood program.
Faith-based programs are diverse in many ways. They differ by faith, denomination, and philosophy. Parents should first look for a program that supports their personal faith. If their faith has different denomination, that may or may not be a factor. Example: Protestant and Catholic families often cross denominational lines. The philosophy of the program is of the utmost importance when selecting a quality program.
Parents may benefit by using the following guidelines when selecting a faith-based program. Though the guidelines do not guarantee quality, they are key elements to use as quality indicators of faith-based early childhood programs.
Programs for younger children (birth to age 2) should be rich with language experiences throughout the day. Programs for preschool age children (ages 3 - K) should offer a literacy and numeracy-rich environment with activities offered in learning centers.
It is important to remember that the total child goes to preschool. With the child goes not only the mental potential, but also the physical, emotional, social and moral/spiritual potential as well. Programs that offer children choices within guidelines, laden with happy experiences and values of faith will enrich your child's learning experiences and awareness of God's love. Choose a faith-based program, which allows your child to develop fully in all five areas of learning. Value the uniqueness of your child and make sure the program you select does too. Take the time to shop around for the faith-based program that offers these valuable assets. You would not shop for a car without asking questions and looking at all the details. Any program that does not welcome your interest, answer your questions, and offer you an invitation to tour the facilities is not the program you want for your child.