Going Back to School is an exercise in planning and preparation which helps to reduce any anxiety that it may cause. Especially in uncertain times such as these, proper planning helps to prioritise and avoid any surprises. On the 25th of August, 6 panellists discussed their opinions, useful tips and shared their experiences on how they manage this scenario.
The Commissioner for Children, Ms Pauline Micelli, identified that the challenges they tackle within the Commission are different and are mostly related to parents, especially those going through separation cases, who have limited income or are not receiving their children’s maintenance, thus making it harder for them to buy items required for school.
She also added that the current circumstances are however, encouraging us to look back at our forefathers who taught us about the importance of saving and planning. This familiarization was part of our education growing up until the early-90’s where we saw the switch to credit cards and the current spend now and pay later culture.
Ian Mifsud, Director – Secretariat for Catholic Education described what is being done to guide, support and reduce the uncertainty amongst the heads of church schools but it was then up to the schools to build direct relationships with the parents. It is the role of those running the schools to support the parents in their planning and reduce uncertainty. Paul Debono, College Principal (San Benedettu) mentioned that for parents to plan their budget certain information such as school lists, for books and uniforms should be passed on earlier to allow parents to get prepared over time and that it was essential for heads of schools to listen to the needs of the parents and to work together.
There are also several other approaches one can take to reduce costs such as teaching and planning together with your kids on various matters as re-cycling versus up-cycling. As Suzanne Piscopo, Associate Professor for Health, Physical Education & Consumer Studies, stated that by ‘extending the life of a product we are slowly encouraging and upcycling the use of products – It should be a collective activity’ between parents and children.
The ĠEMMA FB poll identified that 2/3 of people do not prepare a budget but buy without planning whilst the ĠEMMA voxpop identified further the importance of planning and where the bulk of the budget was spent. The inclusion of children in the process of planning and budgeting is essential and is an educational process that should start from when the child is young.
Children involved in taking decisions that relate to them directly helps to manage their expectation. Making good choices and finding balance is essential and allows us to decide on what we would like to fill our lives. Investment in time with our children and family is an economic investment stated Paul Debono, the College Principle of College Principal of San Benedetto.
Excess consumption is having an enormous impact on our everyday life. Our culture and the way we assess our experience and our children’s wants and needs must be re-valuated. Living by example, like our parents, is a clear message to our children. Our attitude towards money makes us reflect on how we are living and saving for tomorrow.
Some key tips identified where
- Preparing for Back to School as a fun activity
- Kids should be part of buying process and conscious of the costs
- School lists need to be practical and based on needs and not ‘nice to have’
- Wellbeing does not need to be materialistic exercise
- Scheme 9 and how it can support parents in poor financial situations
- Re-cycling of items over the years, purchasing of 2nd handbooks and swapping can all help in reducing the cost.
The budget presentation and downloadable budget calculator gives a useful insight into what you are spending and what you are saving. Keep a budget – and manage it! Spend time in preparing a realistic budget containing well-defined goals that are attainable.
The webinar was conducted by Mr Mario Cassar from ĠEMMA and participants were Pauline Micelli – Commissioner for Children, Ian Mifsud, Director – Secretariat for Catholic Education, Paul Debono, College Principal at St Benedict, Suzanne Piscopo – Associate Professor – Health, Physical Education and Consumer Studies University of Malta. Alexia Cutajar and Silvan Mifsud both parents.