4 memorable ways to appreciate your child’s teacher

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week in many schools, so we asked school and religious education teachers to reveal the most memorable gifts they’ve received to inspire your own shopping and DIY ideas.

Caia Image | Stocksy United

Outside of parents and family, teachers are the most important adults in our kids’ lives, which is why PTA Teacher Appreciation Week this week is so important. Our teachers—be they school teachers, music teachers, religious-ed teachers, dance teachers, or coaches—do more than teach us. They shape us. They help us become good people, and learn to manage expectations. Teachers help us succeed, help us fail, help us dream.

There are plenty of other ways to show our teachers just how much we value them as people and as influencers on our kids’ lives. We talked to several teachers and found out just what their favorite forms of appreciation are.

The practical

Though practical too often equals boring in our minds, giving a teacher a useful gift can be much loved.

For instance, once, while on a tight book-writing deadline, a friend gave me a Writers Survival Pack. I opened a small treasure chest to find two beautifully wrapped truffles, a bag of almonds, a tiny bottle of wine, a box of crayons, a note pad, and a few fresh pens. All designed to spark creativity, to give energy, and to, well, help end a night of writing successfully.

So I was delighted to discover that Teacher Survival Packs are also a thing. What a gift, to give a teacher some fun items to help them make it through the end of the year. One teacher reports getting a clear plastic shoe box (like the kids use for supplies) complete with candy and granola bars, a small bottle of her favorite water, trail mix, and an adult beverage (which might not actually have been allowed on school property—so do check first!). Also included were two movie gift cards for her and her husband to use when school was out.

Another practical but appreciated idea is giving stationery. Even with the ease and convenience of email, teachers still write a lot of notes. So, something like these fun and pretty personalized teacher stationery cards from Pear Tree ($11 for a 12-pack of minis) make a great gift—and make note-writing a bit more fun.

The personal

It’s important to remember teachers are people, too. And they have—believe it or not—interests outside of school. So, ask your kids: what do their teachers like? What sports do they play? What types of books do they read? How do they spend their weekends? It’s amazing what our kids know about their teachers. If they draw a blank, ask the teacher. And then, gift accordingly.

Perhaps you give tickets to a touring musical coming to your town. Perhaps a book of poetry or a classic jazz CD. Maybe it’s a piece of jewelry (even teacher related jewelry!), a collection of their favorite tea, or sleeve of fresh tennis balls. Give something that shows you know and care about who the teacher is outside of school.

Most teachers do say the last thing they need is another mug—or trinket. So, even if they love coffee, perhaps the better choice is those coffee beans from their favorite purveyor or from a fundraiser for a cause they care about.

The surprise

Though pulling off a school-day surprise may require a few clues and advance planning (with the teacher or administrators), treating your kids’ teacher (or working with the PTA or parents to treat all the teachers) to a surprise delivery of a favorite lunch or flowers or treats during the day let teachers know you value you them and help brighten their days.

Of course with tightened school security and various allergies and food-restrictions in the classroom, do check ahead what is permitted.

The written

Nearly every teacher I talked to, however, said as much as they appreciate gift cards and thoughtful gifts, the thing that makes a teacher feel most appreciated? A heart-felt note from students or parents. Though all gifts require time and thought, there is something about a note that touches our hearts—especially when the note is specific. In telling a teacher not only that you appreciate him or her but why you do, you affirm their calling and the importance of their role on your child’s life.

So, think of a way the teacher has been particularly important. Perhaps it’s her attitude or his encouragement. Maybe it’s the way the teacher pushed your student or helped your child dream big. Or, tell a story of a great day your student had in school, all thanks to the teacher. Even if it seems silly or simple, those moments are powerful to hear.

And of course, appreciating our teachers doesn’t have to stop with the teachers currently in our lives. Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time for grown-ups, long out of school, to think back to the teachers who were particularly important in our own lives and thank them with a kind note.

Kim Lampa, a high school English teacher, affirms the power of the belated thank you note.

“It’s always rewarding to receive thank you notes from former students who are successful in their college English class or who have decided to become teachers,” Lampa says. “Especially the ones who had to work hard to improve their literacy skills.”

Of course it’s rewarding! A note like that is proof positive of a job well done—the best kind of affirmation and appreciation. And if this note accompanies a practical, personal, or surprise gift? Gravy.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

Leave a comment: