It may only be April, but before you know it, it will be the end of the school year. For parents of younger children, this often means trying to figure out what kind of goodbye gift to give a teacher.
This conundrum seems to be a relatively new development in children's school lives. Yes, I do remember giving gifts to my teachers at the end of the school year when I was a little girl, but they were not something anyone sweated over. My mom had a full flower garden, so I'd pick some flowers before the beginning of the last day of school, then tie them into a posey and Mom would wrap the bottom in wet paper towels and plastic wrap. The teachers always seemed to like them.
Nowadays, I hear young mothers worry over what is the just-right gift to give a teacher. What's too much? Is candy okay? Is a gift card too impersonal? What about a single gift from the whole class?
There are no perfect answers to any of those questions. But I decided to do a little research to find out what gifts teachers really can use. It seems most teachers do like gift cards. They can buy whatever they want with them, and everyone likes that. And they especially like gift cards from office supply stores, because, as you probably know, teachers have to buy supplies for the classroom out of their own pockets. So that is an excellent option.
What about all of those nifty homemade gifts in mason jars? Or the spa treatments in a tote bag? Or the cool personalized candy bags you can make? Those are all fun projects, and might be perfect for someone you know very well, but maybe your teacher is watching her weight or is allergic to the perfumes in spa treatments or doesn't have room anywhere for a mason because her home is filled with gifts already? (I'm using the female pronoun here, because most elementary school teachers are women, but I suspect male teachers have similar problems with different kinds of gifts.)
Just save creative gift energies for families and friends, because every source I checked out on the subject of teacher gifts had one theme: They love personal, handmade cards from their students. Yep, a funny little scrawled, misspelled, awkward note from a little student, or a more eloquent card from an older student, means more than anything else they might receive. It costs next to nothing, but is worth far more than anything money can buy.
This simple gift doesn't have to stop with one teacher. Your child can make them for the classroom paraprofessional, the music teacher and even the bus driver. Show just a little appreciation with a few words, and many days can be brightened.
There's one thing parents can do to really help any teacher who has provided a good experience for your child: Send a note of appreciation about the teacher to the principal. This is a great way to get a worthy professional a career boost. You can even just send an email. It costs nothing, but can reap major benefits.
What most people in any profession want is to know they've helped the people they serve. So break out some paper and crayons, type up an email, and give a priceless gift from the heart.
If you'd like to share your own home memories or tips (or recipes), send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can write me via traditional mail at The Farmer's Exchange, P.O. Box 45, New Paris, IN 46553.