The extreme cost of activities for kids

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Why is it that extra activities for kids are so expensive, swimming, tumbling, gym, dancing and much more. I would like to have the girls continue with their swimming lessons and also to be able to do tumbling lessons. This is not going to happen due to the cost.  Just to give you an example of the cost:

  • Swimming lessons for 10 weeks ( a school term) – $140
  • Tumbling lessons for 10 weeks ( a school term) –  $125 plus $32.50 annual gymnastic NSW membership fee

The price above for each activity is for 1 child. So as I have 2 children, I would need to double it. So the costs would be:

  • Swimming lessons for 10 weeks ( a school term) – $280.00
  • Tumbling lessons for 10 weeks ( a school term) –  $315.00

My question is, how does the average family give their children exposure to these sort of activities? With the girls going to pre-school 3 days per week, there is no way we will be able to cough up extra money for anything else. Last year we were able to give the girls about 3 sets of swimming lessons, but I don’t think that will happen this year.

Lillian turns her left foot in a bit when she walks and trips over more, especially when she is tried. Nothing that strengthening the ankle or more sports would help. To do the sports and training you have to pay. I cannot just put one child into sport, I would like to put both in for the experience as well. The physiotherapist at Katoomba Hospital said tumbling classes would really help Lillian, but how do I do this when they are so expensive.

One of my other questions is why is the council pool charging so much to teach kids and babies to swim. This is a skill that can save your life, swimming is essential in Australia as we are surrounded by water and nearly everyone has a pool, goes to the pool or the beach. I believe that swimming allows you to have the ability to exercise, be safe and to participate in a great lifestyle.  Why does the council charge so much? Why cannot the fee be a token to the centre, say $20 or $50 for swimming for your children to learn. It should not be $280 to teach your kids to swim for only 10 weeks. Then after the first 10 weeks you have to pay it all again. How many school terms are there in Australia, well there is 4 terms per year. So that would mean that I would need to pay Katoomba Pool, $1120.00 for a year of tutuion for swimming lessons.

Learning to swim should be free or nearly free. From my conversations in the Blue Mountains, NSW, there are a lot of people and kids that don’t know how to swim. What happens when these kids go to their swimming carnival at school? Is it then the schools job to teach kids to swim? Do schools have a learn to swim programme? I am not sure and have not found out, so if someone knows please let me know.

I grew up in North Queensland, Hervey Bay to be precise and I swam at a young age. We were close to a beach at all times, always on a boat and had to swim.  I think everyone has a right to save their lives and others by knowing how to swim. I love swimming and really enjoy it, I cannot imagine not knowing how.

So this year, I think we will take the kids swimming ourselves and teach them swimming techniques. We also cannot take them to tumbling classes no matter how much I would hope to do it. Julia and Lillian’s balance and ability are so great, that I would like to build on it, and have them do something active that is also healthy. For a society that is worried about weight gain, overweight and obese kids they are definitely not doing anything to help families with easily accessible activities.

Why is it now a matter of how much money you have, if you can learn to swim or not. Money is not the issue, it is making sure that the government/council makes this available at all levels. Learning to swim is something everyone needs to know how to do, rich or poor.

Do you have the same concerns over costs for children’s activities? Do we need to get like minded people together to see if we can lower costs? Should we have an online petition for the council to do something about this? Let me know your thoughts.

10 Responses
  • anna
    February 3, 2012

    I have been thinking the same thing and have actually had this exact conversation recently! I used to be a swimming imstructor and being paid $21 an hr (this is a very low pay for a swimming instructor btw) the pool was still charging $65 for 5 weeks of 30min lessons and there was no kind of help for people with more children until you had enrolled 4kids!!! I fund it really sad that so many kids are missing out simply because their fairly well off parents can’t afford it!! Especially when there have been so many children drowning!!
    That said if you would like some tips on how to teach the girls to swim just let me know.

    • Suzanne
      February 3, 2012

      Thanks Anna, might take you up on the tips. Much appreciated.

  • Carmela reid
    February 3, 2012

    Absolutely ridiculous, although it is very expensive, I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if you had children apart ( like me) but with twins obviously of the same age need to be doing everything together. I can’t believe the prices and yet we as parents are meant to teach our children to be “water smart” at a young age which I completely agree with, but how are we meant to do that when we can’t afford to put our children in these classes.

  • Carmela reid
    February 3, 2012

    Definately think something should be done, and a petition is a good place to start!

    • Suzanne
      February 3, 2012

      Carmela, will see if I can organise a petition. Might see what interest we might get from the local paper.

  • Kate
    February 3, 2012

    HI Suzanne. Great topic. I agree that swimming lessons for children needs to be given priority and it would be great to see some transparency around the costs. Is it the high price of insurance, wages or maintenance that is behind the costs? Without knowing what is driving the costs up, it is hard to come up with a solution re affordability. Your twins are gorgeous and your photography really captures Lillian and Julia’s personalities. Congrats on the blog.

    • Suzanne
      February 3, 2012

      Hi Kate, thanks for feedback on blog and this topic. I do agree that some transparency into costs might be the way to go. Might make contact with the council and find out how to achieve that. Will keep you all posted on the outcome.

  • anna
    February 3, 2012

    I can tell you now that swimming lessons are the biggest earner in aquatics and from memory it is even a bigger earner then the gym not sure if that is true about katoomba though? I do know that in mount druitt they used to run classes that would only cost pool entry to attend for children from low income families but this also required the instructors to volunteer their time and skills which is great if you have the time and don’t need the money! Unfortunately while living there I was never able to volunteer.

    schools run swimming lessons but it still costs a fortune and usually only runs for 1 week in the year. Hmmm obviously you have touched on a subject very close to my heart!!

  • Trish Van Baast
    February 6, 2012

    We had swimming lessons at school but we were already swimmers as my Dad was a great swimmer and wanted his girls to enjoy it too. We were on a migrant hostel (I’m talking 1951+) which had a river at the back. His way of giving us an incentive was to give us these great floatie toys for Xmas and then take them off us until we could swim! Didn’t take us long. But as I said, when we went to school part of the sporting program was ‘learn to swim’ and we always had a swimming carnival which usually fell on the coldest day of the year! Also you don’t have to have paid lessons if you can swim you can teach your kids. I’m sure there must be a book out there.Good bonding time.

    • Suzanne
      February 6, 2012

      Yes I agree with teaching your kids if you can swim and we will be doing that. It is great to see the girls grow with their skills in swimming. Uncle Toby’s have some videos for learning to swim – http://www.swimkids.com.au/swimming-survive-lessons/swim-videos/ and my friend Anna said she can give us tips. She is an ex swimming instructor.

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