Saturday, June 04, 2011

Pre-school continued, this time talking costs

Thank you SO MUCH for your wonderful and plentiful comments (and emails!) on the last pre-school post.

There were a couple of things I wanted to answer but instead of doing it in the comments, I thought I'd write another post because nobody I know goes back to read the comments, right?

(feel free to correct me)


These vary so much from school to school.

Some schools only provide a snack and lunch, others provide breakfast too, some do only snacks as they only do half-day with aftercare (in this case you need to provide your kids' lunch which they will heat for you).

Mandy, I don't think you should compare our costs to US costs. It's just crazy. Some things are just not comparable :) because there is no way anyone other then the very rich would be able to afford R12 000 per child per month. No way!

The truth is that these are the costs where I live, Johannesburg. This is the most expensive part of the country. In other parts of SA, schools seem to be cheaper. I know if we lived in PE (where I'm from), I could send BOTH of mine to a full-day place for the price of one child up here. That is unfortunately reality. My mother is horrified at the costs up here and now understands why it's cheaper to get a nanny to look after twins than send them to daycare/ preschool.

Deanna, on the extra-murals. This seems to be consistent in most of the schools. If you want your child to participate in things like ballet, gymnastics, music, swimming, etc. then they have people who come in and do these activities in the afternoon but those costs are additional to the standard fees.

The one school (incidentally the one I love the most because of Christian values, etc but one of the most expensive) says that parents need to beware of over-scheduling their kids (I am firmly in agreement with this) and that their curriculum caters for a well-rounded child so extra-murals are not necessary until age 6. What do you think?

Four of the 6 schools give a discount for twin 2.

But LauraC, you are amazing. I would not be able to bring myself to pay those kinds of prices. :) What are the prices in other parts of the country?


Some of the schools take babies from 6 months, others from 18 months and then there's one who wants them at 2.5 AND potty trained. Now I've not written about potty training on the blog (but I have commented here and there, esp on MandyE's posts) but I wasn't even planning to consider it til 3.

That's all I'm saying for now :)

Uniforms & incidentals

The school with the uniforms only insists that they wear the uniform on Fridays (kind of the opposite of work, where most big corporates do casual Fridays :)) because they go on "field trips" and so it's easy to herd all the kids together. As a practical and very frugal person, I can't see why they don't just say, "all kids wear red t-shirts on Fridays". Much cheaper!

As for the apron and so on, I know. It kills me. I bought non-fancy aprons for R20 each and the fancier versions were R50 each! But sometimes it's not worth the fight....

School visits

Yes, I absolutely plan to go do random, unscheduled visits :) to see the real action. This is one time where I like unscheduled :)

One of the infertility mothers owns a pre-school and I wrote to her since she doesn't read the blog, well, not that I know of. She said a lot of what you said but ended off with something like this: go visit them all because sometimes there is something that just clicks with you as a family. Nothing wrong with the other schools but one will just stand out and work for you.

Very sound advice.


I love, love, LOVE the sound of that Christian school although it's only half-day with aftercare. Also a woman I know (the mother of the girl who sat at our table at the wedding) teaches the class K & C would be in, and she is fantastic. Ran some of the children's ministry at my church for years.

But it is very expensive compared to at least two others.

I am the type of person that if I see value, I will MAKE A WAY. Like with the IVFs. But I really don't feel like spending all that extra money.

Because I will turn into That Parent if I'm annoyed about things.

My one colleague at work is spending a fortune (R80 000 a year) to educate one of their sons at a private school (that is a blog post for another day) and she found out that one of the teachers lets them sleep and do nothing in his class. She flipped out (understandably) and the school just did and is doing nothing. Now that would send me over the edge. Somehow she's made peace for the rest of this year (since it's not a major subject) but is pulling him out next year (this is not the only issue).
Anyway, the point is.. the bond WILL be paid off this year. Hopefully end of August when I get my bonus. Look how positive I'm being but I told my boss about this goal and he was all, "wow, Marcia, that's fantastic" and I said, "of course, it does depend on me getting a fabulous bonus" and he was all, "hahahaha but seriously, it shouldn't be a problem". Yay!

But I wanted the no bond to free us up, not bond us to schools. I want to travel!!! Oy.

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask in the comments - I love to find out how things work in your side of the world. And sometimes "your side" of the world means Fourways and Sandton :)

Okay, have to go. I have the second weekend social arriving in 33 minutes and I'm still in pjs :)

About education - what are your feelings about government and private schools?


  1. I agree too with you should meet with all the schools. Good luck! and I like the discounts for the second child. Our backup day care does that.

  2. Marcia, for my two who are doing preschool 3x a week for 3 hours a day we are paying $2600 per kid for the "year" (9 months). We do get a 5% discount on the second kid but I hadn't expected that. On top of a full time nanny it is expensive to say the least. We are lucky though because in MA we have good public schools so after the next 2-3 years (depending on if they are "ready" when they hit age 5) we can send them to kindergarten at a public school - no cost. But we'll need to keep a fulltime nanny because they are only part-time, have sick days, holidays, vacation days, snow days, etc. I am very, very frustrated that school doesn't serve working parents - it serves an antiquated agrarian culture that no longer exists and we don't need the kids out for planting/harvesting. Laura C's school does "year round" and I wish we did. Housing costs are much more in a "good" school district and some day we'll have to move to a better town and figure out how to handle that cost along with a nanny we'll need for all the aforementioned reasons.

  3. I like the one with the well rounded curriculum. Incidentally, all schools tell you that their curriculum is balanced and will create a well-rounded child. I do find that it is cheaper (financially and from a time perspective) to do extra murals AT the school instead of after school where it will certainly cost more and take more of my time if I have to drive them around. I must be honest, I do overschedule Joel. Only because there is one EM on each day so it's essentially like part of the school day and it doesn't feel like an extra extra thing after school. I started the year with Catrobatz (apparently similar to Monkeynastix) and clay play. I have now added Speech and Drama (you just never know if this will help him) and ball skills. These all cost between R250 and R300 per term so I plan really carefully.
    In terms of pvt vs govt schools, you do get what you pay for. I would private school my kids if money wasn't an issue. Both my kids seem to need small classroom environments in order to thrive. Having said that, there are some VERY good former model c schools around and it really is just a matter of finding the right one. I know people who have kids in private schools and they also get annoyed with stuff from time-to-time so it actually doesn't matter where you enroll your kids, there WILL be something about the school that is going to irritate you.

  4. But I love to compare costs! It makes SA look sooooo inviting to a tight-wad like me! And that figure was full time care so it's not too outrageous, but still too much for me.

    Don't get me started on the government and the school system. I'm pleased with neither. But public school dominates here. It's free and the cost of private schools in my area are outrageous. If they aren't outrageous they are faith based which doesn't work for my family.

    I foam at the mouth thinking about actual school, but I can still relax because I have time. If you find yourself bored one night google No Child Left Behind. America's school system is in shambles, much like the rest of it. Everyone is so afraid of change, it's really disturbing. It's like Mommy, Esq. said, the system is truly antiquated and quality is found where money is found. I can say that DH is a public school teacher and although we are both graduates of the public school system, I am in no hurry to enroll my kids.

  5. Reading your posts on school costs makes me realise how long ago we left South Africa and how I have no idea anymore if what you are saying is expensive or not.

    Where we lived in Midrand at the time, we had a government school right next door (okay I lie, there was an open section and then the school), but if my daughter was at school age at the time (we left when she was 14 months) I would have absolutely refused to enrol her there and we would have had to consider a private school. My main problem was that this school was horribly overcrowded in each class and the one teacher in particular had no clue about grammar and so on. I had a huge fight with the headmaster because our domestic worker's son was in this teacher's class and they just didn't bother.

    While not a good comparison, have to say that here in New Zealand I am perfectly happy with my daughter's government school which costs us $70 for the year (which comes to roughly to R350) and no school uniform which I must say is sometimes nice, but I do think uniform looks awfully smart.

    My youngest goes to daycare at the moment and we pay $181 a week for 3 full days a week. She stays home for 2 days. This includes meals. So for the month we probably pay R3600 or $724. She will start big school when she turns 5 so will then go to the same school as her older sister. She has gymnastics each week at an extra $4 a week so around $20 a month.

    Jip, fully agree, just arrive at each school - no appointment and you will know what will feel right for you. My advice though is go say at around 10 or 11 when the kids are likely to play. Often after lunch kids have nap time or resting time and it will be harder to see what they might do during the play time / activity time.

    I also feel strongly not to overdo it on the activities - 1 or 2 extra activities are sufficient when they are young.

  6. I think you'll know what's right for your kids and make the sacrifices to get it done. You have a very good instinct when it comes to these things.

    I don't know if I left this last time or not, but we pay $140 per Crazy and they go 2x a week for 2 hours. I think it goes down a bit for the 3's program, but I have no idea why...they're going to be working harder with 3-year olds!

  7. Government schools are great. They are cost effective and some Government schools go out of their way to accommodate your child. A Private school on the other hand are much much better, just so expensive that a few selected can attend. With private schools, some disabled kids can benefit largely from them as their pace is not as fast as Government schools.

  8. I don't have major issues with either, but I honestly can't see myself paying R5000 a month on school fees unless I win the Lotto.

    Also, I think public school prepares kids a bit more for "the real world" than private school where things are a bit more selective?

    If I can, I plan to send Nicola to the same primary school I went to - in fact it is on my to-do list to find out if they have a waiting list and get onto it pronto! (but it is a public school).


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