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Saturday 30 August 2014

Parents cutting back on costly after-school activities

Charlie Weston

Published 06/03/2012 | 05:00

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STRETCHED parents are cutting back on pricey extra-curricular activities for their children.

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Almost one-third of adults plan to spend less on piano lessons, ballet classes and football gear in a bid to save money, according to a survey.

The number cutting back on after-school activities has shot up from last November, when just a quarter of adults said they were cutting down.

Commissioned by former building society EBS, the survey found that the number in the 35-to-49 age bracket planning to curtail spending on children's activities rose to four out of 10.

Personal finance experts said extra-curricular activities for children were a massive expenditure for families.

Some people are shelling out huge sums, said Jackie O'Callaghan of the National Parents' Council, Post Primary.

"A couple with three or four children can end up spending the price of a mortgage on activities for children," she said.

She added that some parents organise too many activities for their children.

Ballet

"A bit of common sense is needed. Children do not need to have their days organised for them 24/7. What is wrong with children entertaining themselves?"

A straw poll of parents on the costs of after-school activities and summer camps found:

- Piano lessons are typically €20 a lesson, while ballet is around €100 a term per child.

- A three-week stay in the Gaeltacht costs between €800 and €900 per child.

- Speech and drama is considered one of the more expensive activities, costing around €120 per child for each term.

- Some sports activities tend to be cheaper. Parents said GAA football or hurling typically cost €50 a year. Tennis can cost €6 a lesson.

Research published in January by Trinity College and the Economic and Social Research Institute found that well-intentioned parents can end up organising so many activities for their children that it damages their school performance.

It means the 'hurried child' can end up with the lowest scores for reading and maths.

Meanwhile, the EBS survey shows that parents are also cutting spending on utilities, insurance, mobile phones and clothes.

Nine out of 10 respondents said they now shopped around for better deals.

But despite being stretched financially, the survey found that three out of four people were also actively saving -- with the average amount put by around €244 a month.

Irish Independent

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