Are Government Preschools a Good or Bad Idea?

Fall 2021/Davis Carman
You may have heard that the current presidential administration is proposing that the government get into the business of providing “free” preschool. Of course, it won’t be free. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of the idea.

The Pros
For some families, both parents need to work in order to afford basic life necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. Mothers who are working and have young children need someone to care for their little ones. If another family member (e.g., grandparent, aunt, or sister) isn’t available, then a daycare facility is typically the only alternative. So government-subsidized childcare may seem to be a helpful solution for these parents. But there are real costs—more than money—for this kind of service.

Some people believe kids should be in preschool to get an early start on learning. I don’t buy into that theory, and neither did Raymond and Dorothy Moore, the authors of the 1975 book Better Late than Early. The things that are important to a child’s development during the first five to seven years of their life include strong bonds with their parents and other family members, plenty of rest, and a good measure of positive physical touch and interaction. The Moores reminded us that children will have plenty of time later on to work on reading, writing, and ‘rithematic.

The Cons
As I said, this type of preschool isn’t free. Caring for young children is expensive and someone has to pay for it. I’m not against helping others, but the real question to ask is whether this expense will result in good outcomes or bad outcomes.

With COVID-19 continuing to be one of the biggest stories, staying healthy is on everyone’s mind. And yet, daycare centers are renowned hot beds for spreading illness. Runny noses, snot-covered faces, pink eye, dirty diapers, and little hands putting everything they touch into their mouths is a recipe for kids frequently getting sick. This germ soup does have the potential to help them build up an immunity to common colds, but it’s also a major inconvenience for families who desperately want to keep their child, and the rest of the family, well.

What about the cultural shift that this creates? Do we really want parents to delegate the care of their young children en masse simply because it’s “free.” I know it happens every day when six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds are dropped off at elementary schools. But this practice makes my point. It’s culturally acceptable—and even expected— for you to send your young children to virtual strangers for long periods of time. Many kids cry and experience separation anxiety because it isn’t the way things should be. They just want to be with Mommy or Daddy. And who can blame them?

The most significant time period for child development is their first five to seven years. So much growth happens during this time period—physically, emotionally, and cognitively. They roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, talk, run, jump, and even ride a bicycle. At the end of this vital time period, most children will be able to carry on a meaningful conversation, and some may begin to count, say the alphabet, and write numbers and letters. During these initial years of life, a child needs love, positive touch, encouraging words, rest, and healthy meals. Some of the best things a parent can do for their child in these formative years is hug them, look them in the eyes, talk to them, hold their hand, read to them, and nurture them in other ways. Sure, someone else is capable of performing these actions, but no one loves a child in the same way as his parent. In other words, you are irreplaceable! You may have to make some sacrifices to avoid day care or preschool, but why would you call in a substitute when no one can love your child the way you do?

Private daycare businesses have an extremely high employee turnover rate. The burnout rate is high. Let’s face it, caring for young kids is hard work. And when they aren’t your own, there is no bond or sense of obligation to continue. Here’s a statistic that should be alarming: Day care employees may start with good intentions, but statistically one-third of the workers leave every year. It’s a revolving door. And your kids will suffer as they are passed from one caregiver to the next.

I’m going to assume that you are paying attention to everything that is happening in the government-run schools today. So you know things aren’t good. There is an aggressive agenda at work, and it’s sure to make its way into preschools. Think of how impressionable all those little minds are to the lies of social engineers. Do you really want your child to be present for the Drag Queen Story Hour?

The Best Solution
I hope by now the best way to care for your preschool-aged child is obvious. And let me be sure to extend my congratulations. It’s you! You are the best thing that ever happened to your child. God sent you a little blessing on purpose. He equipped you with everything it will take to love and care for your child. And anything you think might be missing in your life (e.g., patience, rest, organization), He is ready to provide as you walk by faith and trust Him every step of the way.

Are you ready for a surprise? I predict that during the first five to seven years of your child’s life, you are actually homeschooling whether you realize it or not. Think about it. You encouraged your little three-month-old as she rolled over. You interacted with your six-month-old when she learned to sit up. You laughed with your nine-month-old as she crawled to you, the couch, or her favorite toy. Then you held her hand and worked with her for weeks to practice standing and eventually taking her first steps. Walking, running, and jumping soon followed. You read countless books to her at bedtime, fed her healthy foods until she figured out how to use a spoon by herself. You smiled as she learned to swing and go down the slide. And you might have even guided and encouraged her during the transition from trikes and training wheels to the freedom of riding a bicycle.

All this is quite an accomplishment for you and your child. And you did it all without the help of a “professional.”

I don’t know if government-run preschools will eventually be available. I certainly hope not. But if they are, I strongly encourage you to avoid them like the plague, a COVID virus, or anything else you deem undesirable. Instead, begin or continue your own adventure of a lifetime called home education. You can do it. And it’s really good for your kids.

If there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now.

“Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!”

Davis Carman is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of five illustrated children’s books designed to help parents instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their preschoolers. You can hear more of what he has to say at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.

© 2021 Davis Carman

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