It's almost time for school to end! Some of you moms are not looking forward to the "Oh, I'm bored" complaints, and other moms aren't looking forward to paying for Summer camp. No matter what your Summer situation — for vacation or planning to go crazy — let's not forget to honor the men and women who took care of your kids all yearlong this year: your child's teacher!
I remember my teaching days fondly, and I was used to getting little gifts from my little ones and their parents either at the holidays or the end of the year. Sure, I loved the Starbucks and Barnes & Noble gift cards, but those weren't the gifts or things I remembered the most. Breaking the bank to say thank you to your kid's teacher is not necessary, but taking a moment to let this person know you appreciated him or her is, as long as he or she was a good teacher! So before you panic about setting aside money for a big old gift for the teacher, check out these ideas.
The Milestone Calendar
Instead of just a note saying, "Thanks for being an amazing teacher," why not have you and your child make a handwritten and -designed monthly calendar (you don't need to write in the numbered days) that lists the milestones your child achieved thanks to his or her teacher. For example, under November, you could list, "Read his first sight-word book," or "Learned how to multiply by 10s." At the end of this little school-yearlong journey, your teacher will visually see all of the wonderful things he or she helped your child achieve. I guarantee this is a gift that will really touch the teacher and help her or him see how much has happened for your child in a year's time!
If your child's teacher is a preschool teacher, this is an idea that will go far. Why not offer to come in and host an end-of-the-year party to celebrate the teacher, or perhaps offer to come in and teach a lesson or read a book to give the teacher time to sit down and relax? This is not only a cheap option, but it will give your child's teacher a little break and show some appreciation. This is best done in the preschool setting where schools have more flexibility. If you plan on throwing a party, ask other parents to chip in, and if you really feel your teacher needs a present to open, why not ask the other parents to join in on a large classroom gift card? That's a supersweet gift any teacher will love!
The Happiness Portfolio
Was your kiddo's teacher an absolute all-star and joy to have this year? Make a scrapbook with photos of your happy child, and underneath each picture share a happy comment, happening, or event that your child experienced either with or thanks to this teacher. A whole book full of smiles is worth more than a bath-and-body lotion set!
When You're Not Creative
If you're about as creative as a blank wall and pressed for time, there are gift cards that will really wow a teacher. Many teachers shell out money from their own pockets to help with supplies in the classroom. Gift cards from Target, Barnes & Noble, craft stores, etc., are truly appreciated and can be used for the teacher's new class in the Fall. To help really alleviate that burden, wrangle up some other parents to donate to one gift card to say, "Thanks for being so snazzy, Teach!"
Just Say No to Candles and Lotion
Look, I love a nice body lotion and candle just as much as the next woman, but I used to get so much body lotion and candles that I was wondering if the parents thought I ran a massage parlor at night. Wink.
Small gifts that make an impact are chocolates (I don't trust anyone who doesn't like chocolate but definitely check to see if the teacher has any allergies) or a coffee gift card, even if it's just for five bucks. Trust me, money is tight for a lot of people, and teachers aren't expecting handouts or anything at all, so your effort will be appreciated.
Why not get your kid on camera to say a sweet goodbye to a special teacher? Send it via email, so Teach can keep it forever and ever!
Want to get all the kids in on the action? Ask your child's classmates' parents to see who would like to get in on a class-wide special send-off for the teacher! Now that's a classy and sentimental way to give back some love to the person who cared for your kid day in and day out!
If You're Comfortable
If you're comfortable financially and like to show it, why not pamper the teacher with a spa gift card? Trust me, after dealing with kids for the entire school year, the teacher could use a little R & R. If it's a male teacher and you feel a little odd saying, "Hey man, here's a gift card for a massage," you could always set him up with a day at the local brewery. Hey, as long as the school year's done, teachers deserve to have as much fun until September rolls around.
This idea takes some tech and writing skills! Make a class blog (be sure to keep last names and other personal details private since this is the Internet, folks!) where all the kids and parents can post a memory or special milestone or situation in which this teacher really showed how great he or she was for the kids! This takes effort to collaborate, but just about anyone can make a blog on WordPress and it doesn't need to be fancy — and hey, it's free!
Lunch on Me!
Depending on classroom and school policy, why not invite the teacher over for a homemade lunch and have your little one be the chef and server? The effort put into a lunch like this would be something any teacher would remember forever! You can even have your child make a homemade invitation to ask him or her to stop on by for lunch and ask what he or she prefers to eat.
The Apple of Your Kid's Eye
No matter how you say "gracias" to the teacher this year, be sure to take a moment to recognize his or her efforts. So many people think that a teacher's job ends when the bell rings for dismissal, but it doesn't. A great teacher worries, thinks, plans, and preps for each of their pupils. It's not just a job that requires the brain, but it's also one that requires the heart. Give back some of that love to a teacher that really made school a second home for your child.