At the end of the school and preschool year, many parents are keen to give a small gift to the teachers and carers who have supported their child.
But how can you be sure that the gift you buy for your child’s teacher will be one that they are pleased to receive?
Teacher and practical parenting educator Sonja Walker explains how to select teacher gifts that will be well-received.
Over the years, I’ve received some memorable gifts from students and parents. (The gold-plated Two-Up set that I received from a group of thoughtful boys when I got married is one of my favourite, albeit rarely used, presents of all time!)
If you’re looking for gifts for your child’s teacher or carer this year, may I make a couple of suggestions about what NOT to give?
Teacher gifts to avoid
Hand cream, body lotions and bath salts
They’re lovely…but teachers do get rather a lot of them. Instead of a pre-packaged gift set, may I suggest a gift voucher to a local store or shopping centre so that they can select their own products when they need them, or even when they’re marked down during the New Year sales?
Food treats are fabulous for teachers to share with family and friends over the holiday season, but can be a bit tricky if they have food allergies or have made an early start on their New Years’ resolution to lose a few kilos. Some teachers also take off on holidays when the term ends and may not be able to take your lovingly baked cookies or rum balls with them. If you really want to share home-made goodies with the teacher, make sure you know the teacher very well, or alternatively, present them with some high quality chocolate, coffee or gourmet tea that they can enjoy on their own or share with those they love.
Not every teacher drinks coffee or tea, and if they do, they probably already have a mug that sits in the staffroom with their name on it. Even if you have filled it with yummy sweets, the coffee mug you’ve spent time choosing is likely to sit in a box or be donated to charity… so may I suggest that you think of things they might not buy for themselves, but would get a kick out of using? For example, a selection of small groovy kitchen gadgets like an avocado or mango peeler from stores like Kmart or Howards Storage have a ‘wow, isn’t that clever’ or ‘I’ve always wanted one of those’ effect and are a good place to start.
Personally, I love a tipple…. but some teachers don’t and most schools and preschools have rules about having alcohol on the premises. So before you spend up big on a lovely bottle of wine or champagne, make sure that your child’s teacher actually drinks alcohol and that they are allowed to receive it. (The best source of information for this is probably the ladies who work in the school’s front office. They know almost everything there is to know about the school community and can probably point you in the right direction!)
Anything with the word ‘teacher’ printed on it
Teachers enjoy their work and are proud of what they do, but wearing tee-shirt, drinking from a coffee cup or wearing a hat with ‘Worlds’ Best Teacher’ printed on it is not something they’re likely to do anytime soon. You’re far better off giving your child’s teacher or carer a small value gift card, iTunes voucher or even movie tickets… at least these are likely to be used.
Gifts that teachers love to receive
You know what, many teachers don’t need more ‘things’ … but what they do appreciate is recognition.
Kind words on a card and an understanding of the role they have played in your child’s world mean so much.
Many teachers, like me, have a ‘treasure box’ in which they collect the meaningful messages they have received from the children and families they have supported over the years.
Why not add to those ‘treasures’ with a kind note at the end of this year?
Things teachers love to hear and read
Whatever your child’s teacher did.. however they helped… let them know.
- gave your child confidence,
- shared their time willingly,
- introduced your child to a new interest,
- exposed your child to enriching new experiences,
- matched your child up with a new friend or
- went the extra mile to provide you with information and support.
Knowing that they will be fondly remembered by you and your family is the best end of year gift that a teacher can ever receive.