For many us, it is now that time when we are getting down to the last few presents on our lists. And, for those of us who have children in school, we are trying to decide what to get for the wonderful people who spend most of their days working with our kids. As a teacher and a parent, I am here to offer some assistance in that process.
First of all, let me start out by saying that almost all of the teachers I know (myself included) are not expecting a gift from their students. We enjoy getting to know our students and their families, but everyone’s situation and beliefs are different. If your child doesn’t give us anything more than a wave and a “have a great vacation,” we are perfectly happy with that. Really, we are.
But, for those of you who love to give, we appreciate that too. Let me give you some tips that will help you to give your child’s teacher what he or she really wants this holiday season.
First of all, let me tell you a story about a teacher I know very well: my mom. For many years, she worked at a preschool in our hometown. She saw three to four classes of three and four year olds every year. On the last days before winter break, she would bring home boxes and boxes of wrapped gifts from her students. My sister and I would help her open and document each gift. We unwrapped ornaments, candy, candles, picture frames–but the items that moved her the most were the notes from the parents and the children about how she had made a difference in the lives of their kids. Those were the gifts she held onto while many of the others were eaten (mostly by my dad :)) or packed away. So, even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, just know that teachers do cherish even a card with words of appreciation.
And, for those of you who feel led to give something more, I consulted some of my colleagues to find out which gifts they have ranked as “the best.”
Elementary teachers obviously spend the most time with one group of students all day. Older kids may be able to tell you about some of their teacher’s hobbies or interests that they talk about in the classroom. Maybe they sent home an introduction letter at the beginning of the year or have a bio posted on the school’s website. This may give you ideas of some places to get a gift card for the teacher. If you are a “room parent” and are collecting for one gift from the classroom this may be a good idea as well.
Gifts for the classroom are also a great idea for elementary school teachers. Most schools have the basic supplies, but both students and teacher enjoy having the “little extras” for their rooms. Fancy markers, patterned paper, craft supplies, paper plates, etc. are all items that teachers can use and students can enjoy also. If there is a game that your kids enjoy playing, you could also purchase one for the classroom as well for those indoor recess days. The same goes for books that you enjoy reading together as a family.
Middle school and high school teachers see many different students throughout the day. Have your son or daughter pick one or two teachers that are special to them to give a gift to if they choose. A note with a small gift card for coffee or a local restaurant is a good choice.
Finally, in consulting with my fellow teachers, the gift that was mentioned the most was a gift card for books. Most teachers stock their classrooms full of books both for themselves and for their students. Having a variety of reading materials in the classroom benefits everyone. Barnes and Noble and Scholastic are great choices for gift cards. If your child’s teacher does the Scholastic Book Club there is always information in the flyer about how to give books to the classroom.
Whatever you decide to do for teachers this Christmas, just know that we enjoy working with your children and even a simple thank you goes a long way in making our day.
Leanna Miller lives in Appleton with her husband and two elementary school-aged kids, a boy and girl. She is a stay at home mom and part time teacher and librarian. She likes to travel, with and without kids, and read books in her spare time.