One hot day feels just like every other. The air stands still. The midday oven clarifies the morning haze without relieving the heat. A sultry dusk foreshadows breezeless night. Stepping through the mugginess we think, like Alice and her looking glass, “There is something surreal here.”

But though the air is stagnant, light and time are not. The morning sun gilds treetops minutes later each day. Evening settles earlier. The calm of dusk lit earlier by fireflies is lost now in the roar of cicadas.

Summer pleasures are suspended in the balance; purposeful fall is knocking at the door.

It is time for parents to go back to work – to the business of fostering their children’s education. Though important, clothes and school supplies are not half the work. The school-day/school-night routine is critical to supporting kids in their school work.

It may mean prohibiting TV or games till homework is done; arranging a quiet place for study; taking kids for research to the library or beyond; checking that homework is completed and in the backpack, ready to turn in.

It may mean brushing up on half-forgotten skills and knowledge – how to organize a paragraph; what makes a rainbow; whether Pluto is still a planet; how Odysseus escaped the Cyclops’s cave or the logic of quadratic equations.

While waiting, there is still a little time for a walk or bike ride, picnic or summer read. Going back to school is a family affair.