Kids feel the pinch amid the economic crunch

Children are feeling the pinch as parents cut back on extra-curricular activities as the economy struggles.
Children are feeling the pinch as parents cut back on extra-curricular activities as the economy struggles.  Image: Gallo Images/ IStock
Swimming‚ music‚ dance lessons and sometimes even therapy sessions are among the things parents believe their children can live without as they try to save a few rands.

TimesLIVE spoke to coaches of different sporting activities in Johannesburg‚ who said fewer children were being sent for extra-murals‚ especially after the announcement of the recession three months ago.

“In the last three months‚ we have had about 60 drop-outs from our classes‚” said Nondumiso Marman‚ a swimming instructor from Midrand.

“The numbers have dropped a lot in the schools. We have quite a few parents who say they cannot cope and they are choosing to keep their kids away‚” said Marman‚ who gives private and group lessons at schools.

Quintus Jansen‚ who heads Dance Culture Studios in Randburg‚ has noticed a decline in class sizes since the technical recession was announced in June.

“I think it was more of an emotional thing from parents who were trying to keep things tight. But in the last two months‚ the numbers have gone up again‚ but we may see this change as the petrol is set to increase this week‚” said Jansen.

“The reality of the matter is parents need to work longer hours and they would rather have their children at school‚ doing extra-mural activities until they can pick them up at around 5.30pm‚” said Jansen.

Glen Hlatshwayo‚ who coaches gymnastics in Fairlands‚ has had a different experience.

“I’ve found that parents‚ no matter how broke they are‚ always make a plan for their children‚” said Hlatshwayo.

“I think it’s because cancelling a child’s activity results in emotional distress and parents would not want to have their kids sitting at home. Others may be in arrears but they prefer to make arrangements and keep their children coming in.”

Educational psychologist Ashley Jay said cutting down on essential activities for children could have an impact in the long run.

“It definitely does have an impact on them‚ especially if they have a specific interest and are forced to suddenly cut that out. I have also seen it that at times the child will stop coming to therapy at a point where they need it the most‚ and children end up not having the help that they need‚” she said.

“And it’s not because parents don’t want to do it but at times medical aids don’t cover for such and parents just cannot afford it.”

Some parents said they were making changes to their children’s routines.

One said she opted to get drawing books and stationary for her children to do their art at home instead of taking them to classes.

Another said her daughter now spends two days at aftercare instead of five. Her children‚ whose school is five minutes from home‚ now walk there instead of being dropped off.



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