Your children's teachers do so much more than just teach. Teachers comfort children who are scared or sad, they resolve conflicts, engage and excite children who are shy or timid and encourage children who struggle. Along with all of that work, they teach children who have needs ranging from struggling to advanced. That is no small feat for one person to accomplish.
No teacher goes into teaching for the money or the praise. However, everyone deserves a little appreciation for their hard work.
Here are 5 ways to give back to the people who give so much.
1. Give the gift of time: Ask your child’s teacher how you can help out in the classroom. At the end of the school year, some teachers may need help taking down bulletin boards, organizing their classroom or getting things ready for the following school year.
The end of the year is also a time when field trips are planned. If you have time available, ask to chaperone a field trip. The more hands on deck, the better for field trips. Your child’s teacher might need help with other things like washing classroom art smocks, washing desks, helping with recess duty, correcting papers or making copies.
2. Give the gift of talent: Think about what skills you have to offer. Are you crafty? Good at computer graphics? Great at organizing? Do you like to read to children? Your talents can be put to good use in the classroom.
If you are crafty, you might consider making something from you and your child for the teacher. Gifts from the heart are truly special.
3. Give the gift of your treasure: If you would like to buy something for your child’s teacher, here are some tips. I always tell parents to look around their child’s room – the decorations, the posters, the name plates – everything that makes a classroom appealing. All of those colorful additions to the classroom are likely bought out of your teacher’s personal funds. School districts rarely provide funds to decorate the classroom.
That's why a gift certificate to a teacher supply store, a general store that has school supplies, a crafting store or a learning store would be greatly appreciated and put to good use!
4. Be creative: After a whole school year, you might know something special or personal about your child’s teacher. Maybe she loves dogs, has a passion for gardening or is taking a trip over the summer. A personalized gift is very thoughtful.
5. Please don't: There are some things that are better to stay away from unless you know for certain the teacher's preferences. For example, stay away from coffee mugs. If a teacher gets three coffee mugs a year and she has been teaching for 20 years – well, that’s a lot of mugs. Other things to stay away from are candy, scented lotions and any apple or #1 teacher decorations.
However you choose to show your appreciation, don’t forget to include a note or a card from your child. Adding a picture or a written note about a favorite memory or a special learning moment will add a special touch to your gift.
Tracy Christman is a psychologist with Milwaukee Public School and mom to two boys.