Cost, Time, and Peer Pressures of Extracurricular Activities

In light of our tight financial situation, how should we handle all of the costly "extras" at our child's school? Here's the latest example: we received a note from my child's kindergarten teacher informing us that the school would be producing yearbooks that cost $30.00. We declined to buy one, only to learn that our child was the only student in the class who didn't get one. Our lives and our financial resources are consumed with our kids' events and activities, which quite frankly seem over the top in terms of cost. How can we set some reasonable boundaries without embarrassing our children or depriving them of opportunities?

The school’s reasons for promoting this idea are fairly obvious: like you and everybody else these days, they’re facing financial challenges and looking for ways to raise money. If you consider the question from this angle, you may end up deciding that there’s nothing wrong with supporting the cause of quality education with a $30.00 donation. If, on the other hand, you’re strapped for funds yourself, there’s no reason to feel obligated to go with the flow. In our opinion, there is something excessive and slightly absurd about the notion of a yearbook for kindergartners.

There are also a number of other creative ways you can celebrate and memorialize your child’s first year in school. You can take your own photos and assemble your own scrapbook. You can mount, frame or otherwise preserve your child’s artwork and written assignments. You can invite the whole class over for a party, take pictures and videos, and collect autographs. The possibilities are almost endless, and they can be less expensive and far more memorable than a yearbook.

Once you’ve dealt with the financial aspects of the question, there’s another challenge you’ll need to confront – that of peer pressure. This is a problem for parents as well as kids. As we see it, there’s no time like the present to let your child know that it’s okay not to conform. Teach her that there are a number of other factors to consider in deciding whether or not to buy a yearbook. For example, the value of money, the practical needs of the family, and the question of whether it’s really necessary to purchase an expensive item like this simply because “everyone else is doing it.” Talk about how it’s going to feel for your child to be different. Give her ideas of what she can to say to the other kids if they tease her. It may be difficult for the first day or so, but we predict your kindergartner will forget all about the yearbook before the week is out.

If you need help sorting through these suggestions and applying these recommendations, feel free to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department.



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