Compared to other countries, U.S. teachers rank 10th in pay, falling below such places as South Korea, England and Singapore, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Yet, they’re so generous of heart. CNN Money reports that 97 percent of teachers in America purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Information like this may inspire you to rethink the annual end-of-year gift to your child’s teacher. Sure, they appreciate any acknowledgment, but don’t they deserve something truly thoughtful?
In an article for Teaching Community, educator Tom DeRosa lists classroom supplies as the No. 1 gift teachers would love to receive. Anything from a box of pencils to a package of Sharpie pens would be a great show of appreciation. Avoid expensive items like nice pen and pencil sets. Teachers are notorious for loaning items to kids and never getting them back. Consider the grade and age of children the teacher works with and purchase basic supplies accordingly. Keep in mind that your teacher may be registered at Donorschoose.org which will make gift giving even easier.
Something to Eat
Teachers are busy and rarely have time to break for lunch. Help them stay nourished with fruit baskets, an assortment of protein bars, a batch of homemade cookies or a gift certificate to the sandwich shop next to campus.
A Gift From the Group
Collecting money for a group gift does take a little organization, but giving your child’s teacher one fabulous item instead of several small ones is worth the extra effort for a special teacher. Speak to someone who knows the teacher and ask what they might enjoy such as a day at the spa, an eReader or another special item that’s too much of a splurge for any one parent.
A Gift Card
If you’re absolutely stumped and the school policy allows it, purchase a gift card. A gift card can be seen as a little impersonal, but unless you’re good friends with the teacher, an impersonal gift is actually pretty appropriate. Think of your kid’s teacher and purchase a card that might be most useful to them, such a gift card to the bookstore, the gas station, the school supply store or one to a place like Amazon.com where the teacher can purchase almost anything.
Who doesn’t look forward to seeing a few summer blockbusters? A booklet of movie tickets will ensure your favorite teacher has some traditional summer fun without spending much money. Many theaters sell “bucks” that can be used for movie admission as well as at the concession stand. Just make sure you choose a theater that’s close to the teacher’s home for extra convenience.
It may sound cliché, but your time really is the most precious gift. If you can’t volunteer in the classroom give the teacher a homemade “gift certificate” for an hour of yard work, pet setting or baby sitting over the summer.
Of course you’re busy too, and to make sure you don’t waste any of your own limited time organizing a group gift or shopping for something check with your child’s school about their policy for gift giving. Some schools don’t allow teachers to accept cash or gift cards. The worst mistake you can make is to rush out and purchase a “No. 1 Teacher” mug or some other kitschy item because you feel obligated to get a gift. Your child’s teacher already has all the trinkets they can use.