“While parents tend to spend money on exciting hobbies, or sporting activities in areas where their child is flourishing, they often find it difficult to acknowledge and prioritise resolving their child’s immediate academic issues,” says Susan du Plessis, Director of Educational Programs at Edublox. “Parents put off addressing their child’s academic problems as they tend to hold on to the hope that the next report will be better. Their child’s busy schedule, full of extracurricular activities, also leaves no time for homework or attending extra classes” says du Plessis.
"Children often pay a steep price for not being able to learn at a level that is expected of them,” says du Plessis. “Besides not being able to pursue a career of their choice one day, children with learning difficulties often develop emotional issues that can cause long-term psychological damage,” she adds. Research by Dr. Marianna Alesi, published in the Journal of Psychological Abnormalities, found that students who experience repeated failure, such as those with learning disabilities, are more likely to have anxious symptoms and to use avoidant behaviours. This, explains Alesi, creates a vicious circle where a learner’s self-esteem is negatively impacted by their learning ability and it can affect all aspects of their future development.*
Parents often underestimate the true value for money that effective, solution-driven and scientifically proven educational intervention programs provide for children with learning difficulties. Recent research by Old Mutual indicates that if a learner repeats a year at a state school, it could cost an estimated R 37 500 for school-related expenses alone; excluding additional food, recreation and transport costs.** “When looking at the cost of an additional year of school fees, the economic choice to invest a marginal amount in solving an academic issue early on becomes much simpler,” says du Plessis.
Parents concerned about the affordability of getting specialised help for their child’s learning woes are encouraged to take a look at their monthly expenditure, and prioritise their expenses by making use of various budgeting tools available online or to consult a financial advisor.***
Alida Smit is a parent that can attest to the psychological and financial benefits of early intervention at a reputable and professional reading clinic. Today an owner of such an establishment herself, she once struggled to find help for her son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia. “My son’s confidence blossomed and his attitude towards learning changed completely when he was exposed to the right intervention and development programs. If I got to the clinic sooner, I am sure the cost would be less and the emotional impact far less significant. When my daughter started experiencing some of the same challenges, I was able to help her immediately without having to exhaust many options. Not only was the cost significantly less in this process, but she benefitted much sooner, and did not go through the emotional and psychological roller coaster of emotions,” she says.
Today’s challenging economic environment is forcing parents to cut down on costs wherever possible. The financial implications of an academically struggling learner are, therefore, often overlooked as parents feel they cannot afford professional help for their children. Du Plessis advises that parents who want to save money should do research to evaluate various learning support programs available based on their track record, quality control measures, and the realistic timeframe of improvement. “By temporarily reducing little luxury expenses such as restaurant meals and pricy entertainment, parents can provide their child with the opportunity to excel at school,” says du Plessis.
“The best solution for parents is to get help for their children as soon as possible. Nip learning difficulties in the bud; it makes sense from a financial perspective and helps build your child’s self-confidence,” says du Plessis. “As parents, we have a responsibility to not only provide our children with an education, but to ensure that they have a wide array of choices when it comes to possible career paths after school. The temporary financial sacrifice for resolving your child’s learning difficulties is actually a long term, emotional and educational investment towards your child’s future success,” du Plessis concludes.
* Alesi, M., Rappo, G., & Pepi, A. (2014). Depression, Anxiety at School and Self-Esteem in Children with Learning Disabilities. Journal of Psychological Abnormalities, July 2014.
** Direct Axis, (2013). The Cost of Raising a Child in South Africa [Online] Available from: https://www.directaxis.co.za/topics-tips-tools/cost-raising-child-south-africa [Accessed: 2016-04-29].