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Saying Thanks to Your Child's Teacher

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By GreatSchools Staff

In Your Child's Own Words

Help your child share a memory: "Have your child write down something that happened during the school year where his/her teacher made an impact on them," a mother in Georgia suggests. "Maybe not a 'life-changing' event but something that really meant something and made an impression on your child. You could even dress it up on the computer with nice paper and frame it!"

Tell the whole community: "Have your child take out an ad in your local city paper expressing the wonderful job a particular teacher or administrator has done," another California mother writes. "This way the whole community can know what a great job some of our teachers are doing. You can even have it done as a class project. I wish I would have thought of this when my children were in elementary school. I am having my daughter send one this year for a junior high teacher. I think it would last longer than a coffee gift card."

Another example of a large-scale show of gratitude is the National Education Association's Teacher Thank-You Project that was unveiled on May 4, 2009: Thousands of thank-you cards were collected from appreciative students, parents and celebrities nationwide and compiled into an eight-foot-high, 75-foot-wide mural. Click here to see a virtual version of the project.

Give teachers their own report cards: "Last year during teacher appreciation week, we wrote a letter to the teacher and cc'd the principal of the school as well as the superintendent of the district. It was a one-page letter telling the teacher what we appreciated about her as parents and what our son appreciated about her as a student. She cried and the whole school was talking about what a nice thing the letter was to receive. She said it was the best 'gift' that she'd ever received."

Gift Certificates and Cards

Many, many parents wrote to say that teachers love gift cards. Some gift card tips:

Cards that pay for a night on the town: "The best gifts I have found for a teacher to receive are gift cards for a movie, Blockbuster or a meal at a restaurant," one parent writes. "These are much better than adding to the collection of 'stuff' they receive every year."

Bookstore cards let the teacher choose: "I try to send home a note to all families and ask for a $1 donation for a gift card to Borders," a mom writes. "Some don't send anything, but most send more than one dollar. The teacher can use it for her class or herself."

Gift certificates that can change the world: "Our teachers last year loved the gift certificates we gave them to, where they can make micro-loans to burgeoning entrepreneurs in developing nations. Some of our teachers even turned it into a class project," describes one parent. "The response we received from the staff was wonderful."

Gift cards that don't cost a thing: A Colorado mother of four buys gift cards without spending money:  "My husband and I have been redeeming the points accumulated on our credit card for gift cards for our teachers. We've gotten gift cards to a bath/body shop, a home store and several restaurants. Because these come at no out-of-pocket cost to us, it has allowed us to be more generous with our four children's teachers than we could otherwise afford to be."

A cautionary note on gift cards: One parent offers this reminder:  "Before giving gift cards, we always research the 'terms and conditions' to check for expiration dates, fees for inactivity, etc., which can often eat into the gift if the card isn't used promptly."

Comments from readers

"Being a teacher of 3-5 year olds, I appreciate support from parents that is ongoing troughout the school year. When parents and children want to express a thank you, a kind word in a card or with a drawing from the child is especially nice. As for gifts, something for the classroom that the children can use and be excited about, shares that appreciation with others. This honors the child whose family has shown the appreciation and shows other children that appreciation is a simple gesture. "
"I appreciate the honesty of those who say 'no more mugs please' . I try to apply the following to a gift : 'Will it make a memory and is it disposable?' The last thing a teacher needs is something to store or feel quilty for getting rid of it a year or two down the road. If you want your child to be involved then make cookies, soup, a lasagna dinner or help your child write a thank you note and add your own thank you along with it. For those whose schools allow donations to made toward a larger gift, how about a gift certificate to a local water park(if your teacher has kids), a hotel chain or local bed and breakfast. We even gave tickets to a concert (found out from their teaching partner that this was something they wanted to do but would not spend the money on). Talk about making memories! I guarantee you that teacher will never forget the class who sent her to a Chicago concert and for about as much as a mug and candy would have been from each."
"When my two children were both in daycare it would be rather costly to buy for all teachers as they had many (before/after care). During Teacher Appreciation Week, I would buy a six foot hero with some salads and this would be a lunch for all teachers in the school. They really did appreciate it!"
"Just to know that my parents were pleased with the time that I spent with their child is extremely valuable. Gifts are great and I love to receive them, but notes and other thoughtful expressions from parents seem to inspire a teacher to continue with greater clarity in their professions. Some teacher's don't often know how much of an impact they are really making until someone takes time to go back and say 'Thank You' in a special way. There is nothing like knowing that you have made an impact after everything is said and done!"
"I haven't done this yet, but I plan to. I'm going to create a different poster for each of my daughter's daycare teachers that says 'I'll miss you TEACHER'S NAME.' Then I'm going to take a picture of my daughter holding each one outside the school on a weekend. Then I'm going to order a photo gift for each teacher with their specific good-bye message on it for my daughter's last year at daycare. "
"I never gave a teacher a gift as a child and i don't think I did as a parent. It is a nice idea, especially when a child will miss a teacher and wants to express a thank you. I like the use of 'express a thank you' and don't like the words 'give a gift'. I think many parents do not have money to give anything and feel bad to think they might be expected to do so. If you were to suggest making a card, decorated, and with the child's (and maybe the parent's) appreciation on it, this should be enough. And without the words: 'give a gift'."
"As the wife of a teacher and busy mother of four in a small hourse, I like to give gifts that are ment to be used up by the teacher and not clutter their lives with more stuff. Mugs, apples things and ornaments are certainly cute, but a teacher can only really use so much of those after teaching for many years. There is guilt associated with throwing out those things, but you can't keep them forever. Homemade goodies are always appreciated and show you spend time on someone else. Kids of all ages can help make a large batch of cookies, hot chocolate mix, friendship tea, chocolate spoons, white chocolate popcorn or fudge put in a cute bag or tin. Also items like Things-To-Do magnetic pads for the frig and little note cards from the dollar store, can be all decorated cute with ribbon and wrapped by the kids. Don't forget, items used up in the classroom like red pens, post it notes or office suppy and craft gift cards. Keep it simple, even a well written note of praise ! to the teacher, or better yet their boss, is always good and is worth way more than a mug!!"
"We paint pottery for our teachers. We do vases with flowers, sometimes plates or plaques with poems, and baseballs for the coach. The teachers love them!"
"I am the art docent for my son's fourth grade class. As an end of the year gift, the children grouped up and wrote skits, rap songs, cheers and poems about their teacher. We included props and costumes. The children's messages were heart felt. I video taped it all, transfered it to DVD and we will present it to her during the class party on the last day of school. The kids had a great time making it and I know their teacher will love it."
"For my son's teacher and assistant I bought a large picture frame from the dollar store. He painted the frame himself inside on a piece of construction paper taped a picture of him and one teacher together then he wrote a special message (WRITTEN BY HIMSELF) then for his Teacher we also bought a ribbon saying Worlds Best Teacher taped that next to photo. Turned wrapping papper inside out and he made his own wrapping paper. The teachers LOVED it!!"
"My wife and I want to give a gift to the whole high school teaching staff for their outstanding support of us and our son during a difficult year. One idea we had was for a subscription to a really great magazine geared toward educators that could be placed in the teacher's lounge. Any suggestions for a great magazine???"
"I agree no more mugs! No more bath soaps and lotions! I am a teacher and I have plenty of mugs! I also have many kinds of bath soaps and lotions. I have sensitive skin and fragrence they end up being put in the back of my linen closet until my husband wants me to clean them out and they end up at the church donation baskets! Also, many of us do not get into the 'teachery' style gifts...take a look at your teacher; if they aren't too cutesy...they probably don't get into the gift and paraphanalia that are usually associated with teaching; like signs, bracelets, pins, etc. Save your money; gift cards are the best! We always love some pampering coffee gift cards, manicures, or best yet...ask! One of mine just asked if I would like something and it was something that I had wanted!"
"The comment from the 30-yr veteran high school teacher was really interesting and encouraging as a parent to see it is important to stay in communication with the teachers even as our children our going through high school. I really do appreciate the high school teachers and have not communicated it as much as I used to to the childrens elementary teachers. "
"For the past three years my daughter and I have given her teachers a plain canvas tote bag and a set of fabric markers. The idea is for each child to sign the bag at the end of the last day. We give this, a thank you card and a gift certificate. Always a big hit and it doesn't break the bank! "
"I really enjoy reading all the feedback from other people and thank you for all the suggestions to buy or make the teachers presents. I have three children in school and what we starting doing from pre-k is that we give the teachers their favorite coffee with the coffee mug and I will include a gift card from office max or a book store. My children have not one but two or more teachers and we include the librarian, art teacher, physical education teacher and the after school teachers too. It can get a little costly, but we appreciate all the hard work and dedication to teach and educate are children. Thank you so very much to all the teachers that work very hard to make the difference in children lives."
"This is a great help! I have 6 children and the budget is very tight. My children always want to give to their teachers and I find it hard trying to get something for everyone. Then I feel guilty if I leave someone out. We are going for more 'crafty' items this year. I find that something more personal means much more. Its a great way to save money and spend time with the kids making it!"
"I think that all of these ideas are just wonderful! I just wanted to add one idea, if you have a regular hair stylist or nail tech. that is aware of your gratitude towards a teacher why not ask them to donate a gift cert. for a pro bono service. This gives your wallet a break and gives your stylist a potentially new client and a tax deduction, who could say 'NO'? "
"Our school PTO like many others had all the parents bring a casserole for Teacher Appreciation Day...I realized how much the teachers were looking forward to this day so along with the gift that we had already purchased for my daughters teacher...I cooked up an entire meal that she would only have to warm up when she got home. As a mother of three I know how difficult a little task can become and I always appreciate it when someone gives me a break from my daily to do list. She greatly appreciated it and was totally surprised by the gesture. I ralized that the teachers families also sacrifice their family time when their mothers or fathers are bringing home papers to grade or to prepare for a project and it was a nice way to thank them for that as well.... "
"Do you have any suggestions for high school teachers? & remember, there are 6 of them!"
"This year the head of our pta came up with a great idea...she had all the teachers fill out a small survey on their favorite food,snack,flower,color,animal,music,author,candy,activity and any extra info they would like to add...then she made copies and posted them in the front by the office. It's going to make picking a gift much easier this year."
"When I can attend a school function--such as the Fall or Spring party--I try to take lots of pictures. Not just of my child but of all the children and the teachers. Then I give a copy of the photos to the teacher as a gift! She can hang some in the classroom for the kids to look at, or use them in a personal scrapbook. And, usually, a 'second set' of pics is free or relatively cheap!"
"I think that my daughter, a 3rd grader, teachers have planted a very positive seed in her life. She had a difficult time adjusting to the third grade because of the heavy workload, but through their patience and love for teaching, she has turned out to be a straight A student. I couldn't have done that without the help of her teachers. To have the ability to teach is a special talent. Not just anyone can teach and it takes a lot of patience. You'll have some slow learners that will require someone with patience and then you'll have the fast learners that catches on the first time. In saying this, I think that teachers deserve a very special gift from the heart."
"Would be nice though if teachers could also take the time to say 'Thank You' when they receive a gift. With 3 children and the oldest now in grade 6 only about half of their teachers over the years have bothered to say anything."
" I admire the patience and love of teaching each of the teachers that we have,I think they need to be paid more,be rewarded for and because that usually don't happen, it is just right that as parent we need to think how to give back to our children's teachers.I love volunteering in my children's class throughout the year as a way of thanking the teachers and offer to buy the class needed items along the way. We should remember teachers are not well compensated of their hard labors in educating future leaders of our nation.They deserve something special from their students. "
"A different View posted by a teacher was so touching. She has a good heart to appreciate whatever each child gives & don't see the monetary value of the gift. Thats how a good teacher will be. I really don't like the way the other teacher commented on saying 'No more coffee mugs'. Kids gets excited when they pick gifts for their teachers. A good teacher is one who will appreciate the love each child shows by giving her a gift which the child had picked with such luv and care, even it is the 500th coffee mug that she receives..... Teachers make such an impression in a childs life forever & this is a small way of saying 'Thanks you & we care about you' from each child & his/her family."
"i am thankful for the teachers of my grandchildren at campbell elementary school........i am so glad that these young girls are doing so good in school.....and i know the school and the faculty is a lot of the reason why......i am so thankful for this........sanangel"
"I'm the mother of 2 boys in elementary school and besides a nice gift at Christmas and school year end, I make sure to get the teachers e-mails. Then my boys send their 'old' teachers greetings during holidays and vacations and attach photos. The teachers really appreciate that their former students keep in touch and think it is fun to follow their progress."
"A teacher getting married is a no-brainer. If you collect money, buy something special from wherever she is registered. Also, a very nice bracelet, earings or necklace from a good jewelry store. I think the best thing is to find out something about the teacher--what she likes to do in her free time, or favorite things, etc. and work off of that. "