September is right around the corner and families are preparing for the start of another school year. The new school year always comes with some excitement, anxiety, and little bit of stress as families settle back into a new routine. This year brings more pressure as families adjust to hybrid learning, or 100 percent virtual, due to the pandemic.

Many families have been wrestling with the challenge of juggling work, school, and family obligations in this new setting. Simply put, it’s not an easy time to be a parent.

As summer winds down, families can prepare for a great year by establishing a routine. Start going to bed and getting up at a set time. A good night’s sleep is especially important for children.

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Set up a clean and quiet work area for your children. Make sure you set up an area away from distractions, like television and other family members. Students will be more productive when they can concentrate without the competition of other people and electronic devices.

Set expectations before the school year starts. Make sure your child knows when it’s time for homework, down time and afterschool activities. If expectations are set early on, there will be fewer issues getting work done.

Exercise regularly. Whether your student is attending school in-person, or virtually, they still need to exercise and keep up healthy habits. Make time for outdoor activities, sports, and games.

Allow time for extra-curricular activities. If your child is not into sports, other youth-serving organizations have programs that stimulate a child’s curiosity, allows them to explore their interests and bond with other kids their age.

Make time for some social contact. We need to be cautious about social activities, especially for those children with underlying health issues. However, if you have close friends and small groups of children who have been quarantining, some social interaction is possible. Facetime and zoom are great alternatives for those not able to meet in-person. You must do what is best for your family.

This new school year is going to be challenging and there is not a one size fits all solution to the concerns that families have. Flexibility, patience, caring, and respect are traits we adults need to model for our children. Life is very different as we deal with a pandemic and our children need our comfort and support.