Role reversal: What your students want you to know

At this time of year, most community newspapers pull out the well-worn editorial urging people to drive safely now that schools are back in session. They encourage school staff and students to have the best year ever.

Not that either of those admonitions are unimportant, but today's back-to-school message goes out to another important audience: parents. The title of today's lesson: What your kids might tell you if they weren't too busy thinking about school starting. Class, eyes forward now, and keep your hands and thoughts to yourself:

• I don't care if I'm a kindergartner or a senior in high school. All kids learn best with sufficient sleep and a healthy breakfast. No matter what I say, override my opinion here.

• My job is to learn. Your job is to make sure I do my job. Please don't feel silly asking to see my homework, talking to me about my classes and communicating with the school...even after I leave elementary school.

• Please, when I'm struggling with my classes, help me struggle. Resist the impulse to help me so much that it's not my work anymore. My teachers and school need to know if I really don't understand a lesson.

• Trust yourself. You spend far more time with me than a teacher or other school staff member ever will. If something seems wrong, you probably will pick up on it first. Work with the school, but remember, you're the only advocate I have.

• Take an active interest in my school, either as a site council member or a parent-teacher organization member, if you can. The climate, safety and standards of my school make a huge difference in my education.

• The hours between 3 and 8 p.m. are the ones during which many kids try drugs, experiment with sex and get in trouble with the law. While respecting my maturity, also give me reasonable supervision. I still need your boundaries, as much as I might rebel against them.

• Do you know who my friends are? Do you know their parents and what they stand for? I may not like it, but I'll respect you for caring enough about me to make sure I have healthy relationships and good role models in my life.

• Go ahead if you must. Stick the "I Love You" note in my lunchbox, or on top of my algebra assignment. I'll regret it when someone finds it and teases me about it, but I'll appreciate the idea anyway. Maybe they're jealous because they would like their mom or dad to send them that message, too.