The Best Holiday Gift Ideas for Your                      Child's Teacher
    Teachers get enough mugs and would prefer something else.
As a long-time teacher, I have a good sense of what my fellow educators would like to be given this holiday season. While any gift is greatly appreciated as a token of your gratitude, some receive less favor: a mug (we get too many), a plate of cookies (we already battle enough high-calorie treats in the faculty room), an ornament made by your youngster (we love children's art but are surrounded by it at school), jewelry and clothes (it's unlikely to be our taste). The best presents are those that simply say to the teacher: “I see how hard you work. I see how you go the extra mile to make my child's experience at school a positive one. I know how much of your own money you spend on supplies. I see all that and I want to say thank you.” Here are 12 items that are greatly appreciated:
  • a gift card to a book store or school supply store
  • a gift certificate to a restaurant
  • a basket of healthy treats such as fruit, nuts, and protein bars
  • a gift certificate for a massage
  • a bouquet of fresh flowers or a live plant
  • a basket of teacher supplies: colored pencils, Sharpies, pens, markers, chalk, and stickers
  • movie tickets
  • a basket full of items for a luxurious bath: soaps, lotions, and candles
  • slippers or socks
  • books for the classroom
  • something the classroom needs (ask the teacher): pencil sharpener, boom box, CD's, paintbrushes, art supplies, a globe
  • something unique and personal that reflects the teacher's interests: a basket of dogs toys and treats, a cook book and cooking tools, a board game to play with her kids, a beach tote with a towel and sunscreen for her upcoming trip to Hawaii
Speaking from personal experience, I'd say the most cherished gift is a note explaining why you value the teacher. I suggest you and your youngster sit down and brainstorm all the amazing things—both big and small—that you appreciate about her, being as specific as possible. Include things that you like as a parent and your child likes as a student. Jot down 10 of them in a card. They might include:
  • I'm grateful that you let us have “Fun Fridays” when we can paint, color, and draw.
  • I'm grateful that you explain the math assignment slowly and clearly and help me with problems I don't understand.
  • I'm grateful that you're always available after school so parents can talk with you.
  • I'm grateful that you always make creative bulletin boards to display our work.
  • I'm grateful for your big welcoming smile on Monday mornings.
  • I'm grateful that you give rewards stickers.
  • I'm grateful that you read books with such passion.
  • I'm grateful you let me feed the class fish.
  • I'm grateful you let me read my stories out loud to the class.
  • I'm grateful that your parent-teacher conferences are organized and informative.
This means so very much to a teacher because, unfortunately, we hear more complaints from parents than compliments. Moms and Dads take too much for granted and don't make the effort to acknowledge all we do. I once taught kindergarten with an amazing young teacher named Maddie, who always went above and beyond for her students. She was the most energetic and creative educator I ever knew and a natural at it. She was born to teach.

Each year in March Maddie would celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday with her class by making green eggs and ham. One year a boy who was Jewish ate the ham. When his dad found out about this, he came storming into the classroom (I was next door) and started to rage at Maddie like nothing I had ever witnessed in my life. Maddie was worried for her physical safety as he swore, cursed, and accused her of “soiling” his son. No matter how many times she said “I'm sorry,” he kept berating her with his uncontrolled fury as I listened, ready to call the police.

I tell this story because I don't think most people today understand how badly teachers get treated. There was a time when education was a lofty profession, and those in it were admired and respected. But those days, unfortunately, have long since passed. More and more is expected of teachers now—preparing students for high-stakes testing, keeping them safe from school shootings, protecting them from online bullying, and being super vigilant about the warning signs of suicide.

After that horrific experience, Maddie was never the joyous teacher she once was and, at the end of the year, she left the profession for good. She had no problem securing a higher paying position in a tech company. She was replaced by a teacher who never did cooking projects, who never celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday, and who just stuck to the basics. We need parents to stand up for teachers and show their appreciation—during the holidays and throughout the year—or more Maddies will be gone.

Teachers are constantly battling sugary high caloric treats in the faculty room. They'd prefer something healthy like this fruit and nut tray over cookies or cake.

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