Have you considered all the costs of caring for a child from birth to primary school?
Newborns and babies
For some new mothers, the option of staying home with baby for a long period of time is viable and their spouse is able to provide for the entire family, which is the ideal situation. The next option is either an aunt or granny who can take care of baby at home while you work. This is a great option for most people as the young child can stay in a safe, familiar environment. It saves you money but the downside of this is sometimes mom or aunty can get in your space and may often have different views on how to raise a child.
Other options to consider for babies and toddlers would be a nanny or domestic helper. In South Africa, a domestic workers wage is set on 75% of the new minimum wage of R20 per hour, so on average you will be looking at paying R2,625 per month or R15 per hour. Usually, domestic workers or nannies who do not have any childcare experience will need training and this type of training could cost you in the region of R1,450 – R2,500 per course (once-off) and they cover a range of topics such as nutrition, first aid and baby stimulation, among others.
Next on the list is the daymother. This is usually an older lady who takes care of your baby at their home. You provide all the essentials such as food, bottles and diapers while they typically have a well set-up space with cots, mattresses, play areas and so on. Daymothers are allowed to care for up to eight babies and sometimes you will find that they have an assistant or helper. The cost of a daymother varies from person to person, but you could roughly budget around R1,500 – R2,500 per month.
Moving on to the slightly older child, three years and up, you will be looking at playschools, daycare or preschool. Playschool will focus mostly on play, daycare is a place where they provide childcare for the day and a preschool will offer slightly more educational activities. You can weigh your options with Montessori, Reggio-Emelia, Waldorf, Project-Based, or religious-based. This remains a very personal and important decision, so take care in deciding.
Once you’ve chosen an approach based on additional factors such as location, the rates will depend on the child’s age and which option you choose. This could range anywhere from R1,250 per month to R3,750 per month on average.
Other things to consider:
- Does the centre provide food or do you?
- Do they close for the holidays and if so do they provide care at an additional cost or should you find an alternative place during this time?
- What is the adult to child ratio?
- What are the qualifications of the staff, and the registrations of the facility?
Make sure they are registered with the necessary bodies such as the department of social development, the department of health, the local municipality and in some cases the department of education (if they offer Grade R). These registration documents should be visible but if not, then do not feel hesitant to request them as they should be readily available.
Children from seven years and up
Now your little preschooler has graduated and is ready for “BIG SCHOOL”. In South Africa, this happens the year in which your child turns seven. The South African Schools Act (SASA), 1996 (Act 84 of 1996) is aimed at ensuring that all learners have access to quality education without discrimination, and makes schooling compulsory for children aged seven to fifteen years.
Consider public school and this could range between free (at certain non-paying schools in low-income areas) to R20,000 per annum. Should you decide to go the private route, then you could look at paying anything between R22,000 to R67,000 and up with some schools going well up to R100,000.
Important information to find out regarding school fees;
- Are fees payable per month, per term or per annum?
- Is there a discount if you pay upfront? And by which date this is payable to qualify for the discount?
- Are the fees payable over 10 months or 12 months?
- Is there a registration fee or application fee and is it refundable?
- Does this fee include stationery, books, textbooks, extra murals, sport etc… (If not I suggest you find out the price of these items)
- What is the cost of the uniform? Can it be purchased at you regular retail shops or exclusively at the school shop?
- Does the school offer aftercare and what is the cost?
- Does the school offer holiday care and what is the cost?
- Is there transport available and is this at an additional fee?
Once you have made the choice of school, paid all the costs and settled your little one in, should you have a penny to spare go ahead and treat yourself. You deserve it!
I leave you with the words of our beloved uTata Nelson Mandela:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
So invest in your children, for they are the future.