Poll shows how much extracurricular activities cost families

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According to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Global News, most parents view extracurricular activities as a major cost and a drain on their finances.

The poll, which quizzed around 1,000 parents across the country, finds that 55 per cent of families feel stretched thin because of after-school programs. Almost a third (32 per cent) are now using debt to fund those costs, up a whopping five percentage points since a similar poll was run last year.

Over the last school year, the average family spent about $1,160 on extracurricular activities for kids, up slightly from the $1,120 parents spent in 2016-2017, according to the poll.

Millennial parents (ages 18-34) seem to be the ones struggling the most, with nearly four in 10 saying that they have gone into debt to pay for their kids’ activities. That compares to around three in 10 (28%) gen-Xers (35-54) and two in 10 (22%) for baby boomers with children under the age of 18.

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Swimming continues to be the most popular and affordable after-school activity, with 46% of parents reporting that they plan to send their children to the pool. Families expected to spend just $205 on classes, just above last year’s average anticipated spend of $193.

Hockey, of course, was once again at the other end of the spectrum, with moms and dads expecting to shell out around $750 on average for things like skates and ice time.

What stands out this year is the number of students opting to send their kids to non-sports related programs like music lessons, language classes and art labs despite the missing child fitness and arts tax credit which was dropped as of 2017.

After dance classes ($527 per year), music lesson and language classes were the third and fourth most expensive extra-curriculars, with parents expecting to spend $500 and $474 a year, respectively.

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While many South Asian students have no trouble enrolling their already brilliant kids into math and science coaching classes and even robotics, the new ‘in’ thing, they view other sport-related extra-curricular activities as a waste of time and money. This could well be a mistake because children need leisure activities and team-based sports which will help them socialize, interact and work as a team. There are life skills to be learnt on the playground that can be transferred one day into the workplace and the boardroom. One can learn the hard skills in math and science at those pricey coaching classes, but it is the soft skills that get developed during those games on the field, in a court or in the water. -CINEWS

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