Gifting this time of year is a generous way to express our appreciation for those who have served us throughout the year. One such person deserving of a gift is your child's teacher. From Nursery School through the elementary grades it is common practice to offer the teacher a token of your appreciation for educating your child. Some well-loved middle school and high school teachers are even singled out and showered with gracious gifts by their students who adore them (I was lucky enough to be a recipient of these sweet gestures throughout my tenure). The conundrum for most parents is what is appropriate to give the person responsible for the education and well-being of one's child while the teacher is actively in charge of him and her? The gift should not come across as a bribe for good grades nor so personal as to suggest a "brown-nosing" relationship. The gift should be something the teacher can use, share, or save as a keepsake of your child. After receiving dozens of gifts from students I have compiled a list of the most appreciated holiday gifts by a teacher.
-Baked goods - As a teacher I was usually teaching until Christmas Eve. Whether a guest or hosting the big day I rarely had time to put all my energies into baking several different kinds of cookies/confections. I always appreciated when a parent/student sent me their beautiful and delicious baked treat that I could share at home with my family.
- Boxed candy - Whether I was to keep this for myself for a pick-me-up at school, or take home to share, a box of candy was another appreciated gift. Like baked goods, it rounded out my dessert offerings at the holidays.
-Gourmet jellies or mustards - a jarred gift of this type was always interesting and added a little zing to a breakfast or lunch spread. Bonus points if it came from one of my student's travels!
-Ornaments - If you know he or she celebrates Christmas this is a wonderful gesture. I have every ornament my students ever gave me. They are all special and make me feel great each year I take them out of the box!
-Gift card to a restaurant, Dunkin' Donuts, teacher supply store, Michael's/A.C. Moore or Wal*Mart - This type a gift is typical of how class moms are doing things now. They collect a set amount from each parent and the money is pooled to purchase a gift card. Teachers tend to love this idea because it has a bigger impact than 20 individual gifts. Still, other parents may chose to gift a card in a smaller denomination to the teacher for "classroom supplies" or "a cup of coffee on us".
-Flowers/potted plants - I've never known a teacher who didn't appreciate the gift of cut flowers or a potted plant. Even if you have a black thumb, these gifts are lovely and brighten up the classroom (or house).
-Books for the classroom or Barnes&Noble/Amazon gift card - Teachers in every classroom I've ever been have always had a wish list of books for their classroom. This is the gift that keeps on giving.
-Tissues, wipes, anti-bacterial cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, & school supplies - The items that get used up the most in the classroom are tissues, especially this time of year, and cleaning wipes, both for the kids and the surfaces. Check the policy of your school before sending in hand sanitizer, but all of these types of items get used up and quickly. If you argue your taxes go to tissues and cleaning supplies, ask your son or daughter how rough the school-issued tissues are - they'd rip the hide off your nose in an instant! Imagine being sick and wiping constantly! And I'd prefer a teacher interested in wiping the desks, toys, pencil sharpener, etc. in the classroom periodically so maybe my kid would come home with less illness! Pencils, pens, erasers, etc. are always welcome in the classroom for the kids (and it might be yours one day) who forgets theirs and needs one.
-Mixed CD of favorite music or playlist for an MP3 - If you know the teacher's taste and think you or your child has some 'perfect' songs to share with him or her, feel free to do this. Just make sure there are no inappropriate lyrics or themes.
- A letter from you, the parent - This letter, written by you, the parent, telling the teacher how you have seen your child grow under his/her guidance is a lovely gift and always appreciated.
- A letter from your child, the student - If your child is old enough to write, even a little bit, a letter from him or her would be the most treasured gift you could give his or her teacher. I saved every single note, letter, and card a student ever gave me.
Finally, unless the teacher is brand new, steer clear of mugs as over a career in teaching you could wind up with hundreds! Of course they do get dirty/break/etc. Also, anything with scent - perfume, lotions, etc. - unless you know he or she isn't allergic and particularly likes a specific scent or brand.
Teachers are assets in our society. They work hard, love our children, and give them the foundation for success in the years to come. Take a few minutes and a few dollars to show them you appreciate the great job they are doing teaching your child.
Join me tomorrow for more holiday hints. It's time to talk FOOD!