Little ones shouldn’t take money to school

I know that this is a dilemma faced by many South African parents as most schools rely on fundraisers to upgrade sports facilities, make classrooms more interactive, etc.  Normally these fundraisers are cake and candy sales, raffles or fun days at school, often during the week. Parents are usually not there to supervise their children who enjoy the prospect of “going shopping” without mum and dad. In my experience these events are fraught with problems where parents feel pressured to spend too much money on the one hand, and also worry about the lack of supervision which can lead to abuse by older children.

When a fundraiser is announced, the class teacher recommends that parents send the child to school with a proposed amount of money without giving the parents a chance to decide for themselves. The parents then feel obliged to give whatever is suggested to avoid embarrassing their kids.

I have on numerous occasions suggested that a list of items be sent home so that parents can sit with their kids and decide together – but this idea has always been dismissed by the school.

I once gave my 6 year old son R20 to support the cake and candy sale. He was very excited about going to school but when I saw him after school and asked what he had bought,  I was told “just a sweet mommy”, and when I asked further “how much was it” a reply of “R2” was given. “Where’s your change?”  I asked “no change mommy” he replied.

I subsequently found out that older kids served the younger kids and when my child gave his money he was told immediately – “there is no change”. Being a new young student at the school he felt intimidated and went to play with his friends.

This, and other similar experiences have left my kids and many other kids in the foundation phase sad, confused and disappointed.

Last year the school had a fun day on a week day with rides, games and other fun activities. Parents were not invited but were told to send R150 for the event. Once again, the amount is not obligatory but the children believe that what the teacher says is correct and what the parent says is wrong – so, to not disappoint my child – I sent the requested amount which was converted into tickets. My child left these tickets in his bag and sadly his water bottle leaked and all the tickets got wet – the school did not accept the tickets and so my child did not have a fun day.

A similar incident happened to another mom whose son lost R40 worth of tickets and another whose money never reached the school   Although everything I have said here may sound emotional – I truly believe that children in the foundation phase should not be taking money to school.  Teachers should not be talking money to a grade R or a grade 1 child – I feel it’s too much pressure on the children. Think of the children in the class whose parents  actually cannot afford the money? 

Ways to overcome these issues?

1.       Have fun days on weekends so that  parents, especially of foundation phase children can come and supervise their kids.

2.       Instead of tickets on fun days use an arm band and sell day passes to kids,  again especially for the foundation phase children.

3.       For other sales send pictures and prices home of the items at least a couple of days before the event so that children can choose, with their parent’s help what they will get, and the correct amount of money can be sent to school.

4.       Do not let older students serve younger kids – incorrect change can be given and sometimes no change at all.

5.       Try and become a “cashless” school – many schools in Johannesburg are opting for the “no cash” route and although this might prove quite expensive – if schools can raise money for fancy sports centres then they should consider raising for this good course as well.

I  believe that parents should ask themselves – how many of us would give our 6 year old R20 and allow them to walk to the shop around the corner to buy sweets?

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Shakira Sheikh

Shakira Sheikh

Shakira Sheik, devoted mom to 2 beautiful boys who loves cooking, and crafting.

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13 Responses

  1. Agreed and well put Shakira, schools have functions every 2nd week for us to send money with the children which has just become unmanageable financially.

    My son (6) was picked on by older children for the R20 he had to bring to wear casual clothes on a Friday. Another mother saw the whole incident and fortunately was there to comfort him after they had pushed him on the floor and took his money.

    It is not safe for them to carry this much around (up to R100 at times). They are being targeted and as a school we should work towards protecting them from the real danger of being bullied.

    I hope that this letter is taken seriously and we can find a solution that benefits our children and the school.

    1. HI Afton, i totally agree with you, and while we as parents want to support the schools and at the same time allow out kids to learn how to deal with cash – we all agree it should be done in a more supervised safer fashion. Thanks for the response.

      1. Its me again. I fully support your idea about the Coupons .
        we should come up with a hastag eg. #supportcouponsinsteadofcashfor primaryschoolkidsatschool#

    2. Well done and well said.I think as parents we should take a stand and not be bullied by the school.I fully understand what you are saying.

      School functions such as fun days, awards days,debsball /proms should be held on weekends and not on weekdays.These functions put pressure on us parents when held on weekdays.

      It is okay for teachers to attend union meetings during the week but it is not okay to have these functions in the weekend.

    1. Thanks Safeena, its true in the age we live, we as parents have much to contend with, but little things like these – putting it out there for other parents and gaining perspective from other parents is what makes the struggle stronger and hopefully the outcome will be positive.

  2. A well written article with many thought worthy points to reflect on. May we as parents voice our concerns and make the schools realise that there are better alternatives.

  3. I must agree with you Shakira. Whilst the handling of money is an important Life Skill for our kids , they are unfortunately subject to many demons out there. My kids attend 2 different schools – each with their own culture. Both systems work well – perhaps other schools can adopt these.

    AT Parkview Junior: Tuck is only held on a Friday. It is run by the parents of the school with a rotating roster. Coupons are purchased by the parents in bundles. Menus are sent home (hot dogs, cheese rolls, guava rolls, fruit sticks, Lays, Diddle Daddle, Super M, Ceres juice – so NO sweet stuff), and parents help kids to tick off what they like. They then give the kid the required amount of coupons in an envelope with a labelled menu.
    Mums (and dads) go in on a Friday and prepare meals, lay the tables etc. Kids are brought to Tuck by the class teachers and the parents serve. Its a most wonderful experience for the little ones to see their mums at school – helping and being a part of the family.
    Cookie sales are spread between grades and kids are asked to bring only R2 on that day (normally every 6 weeks or so).

    AT KEPS: Grade 1 and R (from term 4 only) are only allowed tuck on a Friday, and are assisted by the staff whilst purchasing.
    At a recent Cake and Candy, class mums and other mums co-ordinated, set up and served the boys. Boys were however asked to bring in at least R30. For those that could not afford we had packed “lucky Bags” of goodies that we happily gave them.

    At both schools , entrance to Fun Days are by way of arm bands and buying power is by way of coupons only. On these days parents do accompany kids and the onus then lies on them to limit the amount of coupons they give.

    I do hope this helps many schools see that there ARE alternatives to cash.. it may take some organisation, printing and laminating – but like many hands make a home, so do many hearts make a school. Get involved!

    1. Hey Shakerah, thanks for taking time out to read and respond, its platforms like this that allows us to share information and gain interest on how other parents cope and other entities operate. You guys have some good systems in place and yes i agree – other schools should look to different schools for ways to adopt new systems and methods.

  4. Shakira,

    Thanks for your article

    I am facing the exact same issues with my two kids at their school. I have one in Grade R and one in RR. What they buy at these “Bake Sales” never adds up to the money I give them. They also never come home with change if I give them extra money

    A few weeks ago I had to call my sons teacher to ask why my my son came home with two used toy cars which he had bought at bake sale? Turns out a lot of kids are selling their own old toys and the little ones don’t know any better. An even bigger shocker is that one day my son also came home with Pick n Pay animal cards which he paid for at Bake Sale!

    I agree that it should be more controlled, the older kids should not be in control of our young children’s money. Schools definitely need to adopt a more structured programme for these days.

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