Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Speaking of Hidden Costs

Last week a note was sent home to all the parents with kids in grade 1. The school was organizing two activity days as part of their physical activity curriculum.

Parents were asked to sign a permission slip to allow their children to participate. The activity? Skating. For $6 they would be bused to the local arena, once in January and once in February.

Many parents are slightly panicked, as were we. My son (like many) doesn't yet know how to skate. Never been on them. Doesn't own any either. The form didn't explain what would happen if a child didn't posses skates and had never been on them.

After talking to the teacher we learned that the school has skates that can be borrowed. Fortunately we found a pair in my sons size. No lessons would be provided though, the kids were on their own (they would provide the chairs for them to push around.) On Sunday this past weekend I took him down to the local pond. After 5 minutes of holding him up he was off skating on his own. Kid's a frakkin prodigy. A very happy father son moment that was.

So problem solved, right? Not quite.

On the permission form it lists everything that has to be provided. Skates, check. Hat and mitts, check. Hockey Helmet with full face guard. Sorry.... what?

I know Canada is supposedly a hockey mad country, but for chrissakes that does not mean every kid has a full set of equipment from the moment they're born!

Again, fortunately, we have a neighbor with a son playing hockey. He has an old helmet that fits our son that he lent us. Problem solved.

But what if the school ran out of skates and my neighbour didn't have a helmet for me to borrow?

$40 for skates and $50 for the helmet. $100 worth of last minute purchases so that my son can participate twice in a $6 school activity.

Something is just not adding up there, especially for lower income families with children that have never skated before. $100 to make the kid cry is what that adds up to.

1 comment:

Ken Breadner said...

Somebody needs to do a study comparing school costs in 1980 with those today. I'd really love to know where all the money used to come from. I mean, I've heard of boards where parents are expected to shell out for EVERYTHING: notebooks, texts, pencils...all that used to be provided. And the fundraising! We used to have one bake sale every year, along with kids selling ____ for the band trip or what have you. Now every sports team is expected to be self-sufficient.
Interesting about that hockey helmet. I remember skating (trying to) in elementary school. No helmets back then. If you fell down (and I was very good at falling down), you knew enough not to land on your head. Now, I'm all for protecting kids, don't get me wrong. But I really do believe we've taken it waaaaaaaay too far.