Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mini Rant

Back to school is one of the best times of the year. After about the 6 week mark of summer holidays, my kids get antsy and the words "I'm bored" start happening. They miss their friends. I miss writing time.

But I also HATE September because I feel like walking chequebook, and my bank account isn't endless.

I spent $150 on school supplies for the two kids. I spent $100 on shoes only because I got a major sale (it was BOGO). Then I spent about $150 on clothes, because kids grow, and what fit in June suddenly didn't fit anymore (did I mention youngest grew THREE INCHES last year?). We got the bare minimum.

The first week of school I got hit for:

$25 youngest's school fees
$43 eldest's school fees - and I had to buy her her own locker lock
$70 youngest's choir fees ($25, plus $45 for uniform)
$28 eldest's school pictures (yes, already!)

Both girls are in band through the school. School activities tend to be cheaper than outside activities, however on top of instruments, the "recommended" payment for upkeep of the band program is $40 for youngest and $100 for eldest.

Youngest had her first choir rehearsal last night and brought a note home about the choir "trip" this year which is estimated to cost each kid $1750. Bring your first payment to the meeting in 2 weeks.

At this point I'm starting to panic.

And I look around me and I KNOW that there are so many other families who have less than we do, and if WE'RE struggling to shell out cash for this stuff, it's got to be practically impossible for other families to do it.

And this is where my rant comes in.

I don't and have never thought that kids need to be in EVERYTHING going. However I do know that the kids who tend to get in trouble are the ones who have too much time on their hands. To make ends meet most parents have to work, so the kids come home alone after school. That's life. Families need to eat, people need to work (and I know how very lucky I am to be able to work from home). Extra curricular activities are GOOD for kids. They teach lessons. They give them somewhere to be. They help with academic learning (go google studies on the affect of music on academics).  And you know what? THE KIDS WHO NEED IT MOST ARE THE ONES WHO CAN'T AFFORD IT.

Our rec centre, bless them, has good programs that are cheap. After school drop in is free. The organized things are under $30 for eight weeks. Their policy is accessible to all.

But other stuff? It's so prohibitive. A neighbour told me on Monday that it was $3200 for her son to play hockey this year. And I only have 2 kids.

For a lot of families, having their kid participate in a simple program is the difference between groceries or not, paying the power bill or not, paying for heat or not.

That's not right. If we want to keep our kids out of trouble, keep them learning, have them find something that they are really good at, a place to belong and a healthy sense of self-esteem, we can't make it financially prohibitive. Because while I'm relatively sure we'll scrape up the money, I know there are a lot of families who simply can't and a lot of kids left out.

I guess my rant wasn't quite so mini, was it?


  1. It was a great rant - I'd like to add that all these kids who miss out on these activities and chances are also the ones that will end up costing the gov't massive amounts of money in legal and detention costs. Cutting and cutting away at money for kids education and related costs is saving us NOTHING and is so short-sighted it is unbelievable!

  2. I agree, LaurieIsabel!

    One of the fab things about the city's rec program here is that they DO keep costs extremely low. If kids want to participate, they can. It's just not in competitive areas, you know?

    One of the best things my daughter did this year was the Youth Leader program through the rec department. It cost her $25 for the summer. She took some training courses (including her first aid certificate) and then spent almost 30 hours volunteering in the community and at day camps. It was so good for her, and my other daughter is going to do it next year. They do three levels and then usually get hired on as staff after that. It's a fantastic program.