Most private school families are struggling to pay the fees. But why would you?

I was late enrolling my son for school next year.

He starts Prep (that’s Victorian-speak for Kindergarten) at our local primary school next year; we slipped the paperwork in, just in time. Although, having said that, I was completely prepared to take the poor kid on the first day of school next year and basically stage a sit-in until they put him in a classroom.

I was talking to a girlfriend of mine about it a few weeks ago. She’s very organised, in a way I’ll never achieve. She was horrified that we had left it so late.

And she was also horrified that we hadn’t visited the school first, nor had we visited or investigated any other schools. She asked me, ‘what if the school isn’t right for him? What if he needs a different environment? What if, what if, what if?’ We talked at cross purposes for half an hour. I genuinely didn’t understand what she meant.

This little dude starts school next year. I'm already pretty emotional about it, to be honest. Image supplied.

It's up to him to adapt to the environment he finds himself in. Because that's life. You don't get the red carpet rolled out for you in adulthood. You'll find yourself in all sorts of situations that don't necessarily 100 percent suit you; and you learn to adapt and find your way through.

She's one of my dearest friends, and I adore her. But we have a very different outlook on life, and a very different outlook on parenting.

My approach is that my kids will only get certain opportunities in the world, the kinds of opportunities that most kids get, but that it's up to my kids to make the most of them. I'll help and nurture my kids as much as I can, but I'm not going to deliberately set out to give them special opportunities, exclusive opportunities.

It's okay that other people might have a different approach. There's no right or wrong way to do these things, just different ways.

What I don't understand is parents who do choose to give their children special, exclusive opportunities but who struggle to do so.

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Four out of five families with kids in private schools are making significant sacrifices to pay the fees, according to a study for Real Insurance.

Head of Corporate Affairs and Real Insurance spokesperson Tatiana Day said, “The results shed light on a battle that a large number of Australian parents face every day, with one in three estimating that at least 20 percent of their household income is going towards their children’s private school fees.”

The main spending areas included cutting back on entertainment and dining out (50 percent), and cutting back on holidays (49 percent).

“In addition to these common money-savers, a considerable number of parents must take a more drastic approach. Almost one in three downscale their necessary home renovations or repairs and one in six work multiple jobs in order to finance their children’s private education,” said Mrs Day.

But why would you?

It's not your job to give your child every opportunity in life. Your job is to help your child value the opportunities they get.

And your child will get great opportunities in public schools.

Australia enjoys a fantastic public school system. Our schools are well funded. They're staffed by dedicated, loyal and professional teachers.

If you think your school is not a great school, then get involved. Make a difference. Change things. Not just for your kids, but for all the kids in your community.

That's the responsibility we do have, to our children and to each other.

Catch up with the latest episode of Mamamia's podcast for imperfect parents; This Glorious Mess.