Today’s teachers work hard for increasingly lower pay, putting in several hours a day after the final bell rings and selflessly using their time off to grade papers or tutor students. According to an educator writing for the Huffington Post, teachers “work in isolation for much of the day” and are “routinely observed and critiqued” by administrators. Few expect to receive gifts from either students or their parents. If you want to acknowledge your own or your child’s teacher, try one of these sincere and simple thank-you ideas:
1) The Gift of Shopping
A gift card can be just the push a hardworking teacher needs to carve out time for themselves and get some “me time.” This makes it a thoughtful gift whether you know your child’s teacher well or not, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re not sure of their interests, a gift card to the mall or a department store has options for everyone.
2) A Burst of Energy
Coffee, a smoothie, or even an ice-cold cola can be grabbed on the go or when you do your own beverage run and is much appreciated any time of day. If you want to get creative, there are plenty of resources online for making printable, personalized gift tags you can attach using string and a hole puncher.
3) Something Sweet
When it comes to gift-giving, you can never go wrong with a little sugar rush. Candy, a gourmet cupcake, or some pastries from your local bakery will brighten any teacher’s day. Sharable desserts or doughnuts are ideal for preschool teachers, where there is likely to be a lead and one or more assistant teacher in each room.
4) Something Savory
A hearty meal is a great way to show someone you care. Pizza and salad or a sub sandwich can be ordered and delivered to their classroom, but don’t be shy about bringing something in yourself. Anything that makes a teacher’s day easier is a great gift; let them know ahead of time and they’ll appreciate having one less thing to plan that week!
5) Spa or Golf Day
Local deals and group discount websites are a great source for spa gift certificates or golf passes, making it easy to treat someone to a day of relaxation even if you’ve never set foot in a country club. This is also a great idea for married couples who teach – they may see each other at work all day, but that’s not the same as genuine quality time.
6) Family Movie Night
If you know your child’s teacher is a parent themselves, remembering their little ones will touch them, even if it’s a small gift. Juggling their students and then their own son or daughter’s homework needs, it can start to seem like school is taking over. Tickets to the latest animated blockbuster or kid-friendly stage production means fun for the whole family, and helps them balance work and play.
Office and classroom supplies may seem a little redundant, but the truth is that most of America’s public schools are so underfunded that teachers depend on parent donations to stock their classrooms. Besides, professionals often take delight in new gadgets, fresh sticky notes, and matching organizer trays. Combining essential items with desk décor is both practical and personal.
After putting so much into their work, teachers need reminded it’s okay to put themselves first. Skin care and candles are obvious examples, but you don’t have to get fancy. Instead, fill a mug with a few tea bags and a calming essential oil; or, instead of flowers they’ll have to care for, try a low-maintenance potted plant and stones or crystals for a miniature Zen garden.
9) A Heartfelt Note
Sometimes it’s better to tell and not show. Mother and teacher Jessica Lahey says in the New York Times that while purchased gifts are nice, it’s the letters, poems, and drawings that teachers will keep and treasure for years to come. Hand-write a sincere thank-you note detailing how your child’s teacher has had an impact on their learning – and bring a tissue in case of tears.