Church-based preschool programs fill need for more than kindergarten readiness

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some parents say they want more than just kindergarten readiness from preschools.  For them, putting their children on the right path for school also means putting religion in the center.

In Springfield alone, more than 20 full-time preschools are organized by churches.  Carpenter's Kids, which operates out of South Haven Baptist Church, is one of the biggest preschools, with more than 30 classes and 250 kids.

Kelli Williams says, when she was looking at preschools for her son, Reed, she wanted more than just the academics.

“Since it plays such a big part in our lives, we wanted that to be a part of his curriculum,” said Williams.

Williams wanted to make sure Reed was in a religious learning environment.

“It's a safety net for us,” she said.

She's a stay-at-home mom but still wants Reed to go to preschool.

“Honestly, I'm Mom. I'm not mom and teacher,” said Williams. 

“It's not like we drop them off and we don't know what a portion or part of their day is.  We are in contact with teachers,” she said.

“We really believe in taking them where they are at and growing them where they need to be,” said teacher Andrea Lovelace.

Lovelace used to work for a public school.  She says faith-based programs like Carpenter's Kids are a great option because they still provide kindergarten readiness with a religion focus.

“We are a family environment where the children feel loved and special,” she said.

“When we had troubles, the teachers were wonderful about coming to me and talking about the situation and working as a team. I really enjoyed how I was part of the process,” said parent Rebecka Fincher.

Fincher wanted to make sure both of her children got this experience.

“I wanted him to learn more than just at Sunday school about his faith. I wanted him to be around others who believe the same faith we do, so that from way early on he would learn about Christ and how important that is in his life,” said Fincher.

All teachers at Carpenter’s Kids are certified and it's a tuition-based program.