Families are often time poor with mid-week mornings punctuated with prepping porridge while loading up lunch boxes, stuffing school bags and rushing out the door to school drop offs, errands, work or various extra-curricular commitments. Cairns Catholic Education share their tips for creating calm amongst the chaos, plus how their schools can support you and your family throughout your child’s education.
The old proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ really resonates when your little ones start school and Cairns Catholic Education is here to support families in the Far North throughout these all-important years.
Finding the right fit
Choosing a school that caters to not only your family’s values and academic aspirations, but also supports your family throughout the journey is crucial. One of the 29 Catholic schools and colleges in the Cairns Diocese can assist in making this big transition not as daunting with their successful transition programs. Catholic schools acknowledge parents as the first educators and work in partnership to help children achieve their potential. The transition programs offer you the chance to get to know your child’s school (and vice versa!) and brings the entire family on the journey from enrolment right through to the first year. It gives your little one the chance to build relationships with teachers and peers, as well as feel comfortable, confident and supported in their new learning environment, meaning you can feel comfortable, confident and calm as well.
To further support you to feel prepared for these early years, Catholic Education has created a Facebook page ‘BePrepped4Prep’. Brimming with expert advice and tips for this often tricky transition, the page will help you to feel organised and confident leading up to your child’s first day of school.
Up and at ’em
This may seem counter-intuitive for busy parents yearning for those extra moments of shut eye, but setting the alarm that little bit earlier to have a quiet coffee or a few moments of calm before the day begins can have a major impact on your mental state and how you respond to your children. Often when you are woken by the kids and thrust straight into parent mode you can start your day reactive and on the back foot. You can use this time to stretch, pack the car, prepare breakfast or get ready at your own pace. Mornings may not be your time, but it’s worth a try to see the difference it makes for yourself and the flow-on effect for the rest of the family.
Find your flow
Kids thrive on structure and routine – and adults do, too! Creating a routine for your family can make life flow with more ease. Consider preparing the table for breakfast the night before to save time in the morning or preparing easy breakfast options such as overnight oats that you can grab straight from the fridge and serve once the kids wake. According to the website Raising Children, “a healthy breakfast can help children perform better at school”. Furthermore, they claim breakfast eaters tend to have better attendance at school than those who regularly miss this meal, be more emotionally healthy than non-breakfast eaters and stay at a healthy weight. All the more reason to be organised in the morning! If you’re really pushed for time in the AM, healthy pre-baked breakfast muffins or smoothies are good no-mess options for home or in the car on the way to school if needed.
Futhermore, find a time that works for your family to organise school lunches and stick with your routine. Whether it’s at night when you’re in the kitchen already getting dinner ready, in the morning while you’re preparing breakfast or on a Sunday night for the week ahead. Consider making lunches weekly and freezing portions or prepping twice-weekly to save precious time each day. And when all else fails, lunch money for the school canteen is always an option if budget allows.
It’s also a great habit to lay out all uniforms and clothes (including your own) the night before – and if you’re feeling really organised, you can pre-fold a pile for each school day at the start of the week to save time each evening.
In the know
Keep up to date with your school’s events and weekly schedules by following their Facebook page, checking your school’s Parent Portal or newsletters and organise everything you can in advance. Does your school have their swimming carnival on this week? Make a list of what needs to be packed or pack ahead to ensure nothing essential is forgotten. A useful tool is a white board or weekly planner in an accessible spot to stay on top of events. Encourage your kids to be a part of filling in the planner and knowing what’s coming up in their week as well.
Outside school hours
It can be difficult to juggle work hours, school drop offs and pick-ups and school-holiday care. In addition to boarding options at some schools, Cairns Catholic Early Learning and Care provides school-aged Outside School Hours Care (OSHCare) programs at some schools for kids aged 4½ to 12 years to help support families in their community. The programs at various schools offer a mix of before school, after school and vacation care, with recreational activities; quality programs developed collaboratively by the children and staff; excursions to stimulate, motivate and entertain; plus the opportunity to socialise with peers. Additionally, some schools, such as Holy Cross at Trinity Park, offer after-school sports, alleviating the need to pick the kids up from school and rush them to soccer practice (before making dinner, tidying and getting ready for the next day, of course).