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Saying Thanks to Your Child's Teacher

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By GreatSchools Staff

Pamper the Teacher

Summer is a time for pampering the teacher, a number of parents say. "Several times from preschool through third grade I have collected money from every willing parent to purchase a spa/massage package for the teacher," an Ohio mom writes. "People would give $5-$10. This would give the teacher a peaceful relaxing start to their summer. They always LOVE it!"

Pool your resources: "My daughter was in the fourth grade last year in Redding, California," one mom writes. "And all the students (30) as well as the parents, pitched in $5 each and bought the teacher a spa day at the local day spa. She was thrilled. When you add it all up you can really give a nice gift and it is affordable for the families."

Don't forget the rest of the staff: Here's how one mom describes the way parents at her school honor the school staff:  "We have a very small high school and in order to make sure that no teacher or staff person is left out, we collect money from every parent and make a luncheon around the holidays with table cloths, flowers and catered food. Then, at the end of the year, we take whatever money is left from our collecting and buy gift cards, usually from a bookstore chain, for each staff person including maintenance. The teachers feel really special at the luncheon and are very appreciative of the gift cards, no matter how small."

And Now a Word From the Teachers

There is no gift that's perfect for every teacher, as comments from these teachers show:

No more coffee mugs!  "I am a teacher so I have plenty of knowledge on this topic. Please stop sending teacher mugs and such. You really can have only so many. Gift cards are a beautiful thing. But also restaurant, movie, grocery or other store certificates are all really great gifts. Flowers are also a nice gesture."

Personal messages are everlasting:  "As a 30-year veteran high school teacher, I have an immediate answer for what I would like as a gift from parents and students. What would mean the most to me is a nice card with a handwritten note that expresses a parent's or student's sincere thoughts about the teacher, or thanks for the teacher's inspiration, hard work, concern, etc. By the time students enter high school, we receive so little positive feedback from parents that we truly hold on to every note, card and email that we receive. If parents only knew how much such small gestures mean to teachers! Save your money and just spend a few minutes with a piece of paper and a pen!

Another teacher notes: "I teach (and have taught for over 20 years) in a very poor school district. While I've received quite a few trinkets and mementos, the things I've kept are the notes of appreciation from the parents and letters from the children. They are worth more than any gift and are reread whenever I'm feeling down, underappreciated or overworked."

"My favorite gift of all time," says another, "was a book of personal notes from my students telling me about their favorite memories/activities from the year (that a parent had organized). It was a gift that all students could be a part of, and it gave me insight into what my students were enjoying about the year."

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. "