As the end of the school year approaches, so does a special week that honors our children’s teachers – Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2 – 6). As a teacher and a parent, this week of celebration and recognition has always been close to my heart. Seeing a teacher’s job from both sides of the fence has been a very eye-opening experience for me. Having acted as both the giver and receiver of countless “expressions” of gratitude over the last 16 years, I have come to the conclusion that often times parents probably struggle with this question year after year … What can I do as a parent to effectively show how much I truly appreciate my children’s teachers?
Well, that is a very good question and hopefully this guide will give you “teacherly” insight (I know that’s not a word but it works), when deciding what celebratory act you will declare as the winner for this year. With the help of several educators, those who have taught my own children, are past or present coworkers, or are my friends, I have constructed what I’ll call a “road map to teacher euphoria.” Follow these guidelines and you are sure to make a significant and memorable impression.
Make It Personal
If there was one thing that stood out above all other responses, it would have to be that anything personal is a winner. When you think of a token of appreciation, think of the 3 H’s: heartfelt, homemade, and handwritten. Nearly all of the teachers that responded used one of these words in their descriptions of gifts that they have cherished over the years. Whether it is a letter, or a card written by a parent or child, something wonderfully created by a parent or child, or any thoughtful gift from the heart, the consensus is that these are the most memorable of all. Many teachers keep scrapbooks or memory boxes containing these items. They are great for a day when a teacher needs a quick pick-me-up or a reminder of just how much they are loved and valued.
Give Your Time
Find out the teacher’s needs by simply asking, or even step out on your own and take the initiative to give time in a way that you think will help the most. Having a few parents who will sit with a teacher’s class during lunch so the teacher can have a “duty” free lunch is one idea teacher’s absolutely love. While teachers love their students and their jobs, it’s nice to have break and enjoy a quiet lunch from time to time. Another would be volunteering to help with classroom activities or projects in whatever way fits the needs of the teacher. This could include helping with a messy activity in a kindergarten class, putting review packets together in another class, or even helping to organize materials. How ever you decide to give this gift, it will definitely be ranked as one of most appreciated gestures.
If all else fails, feed them. Think of the possibilities here … from their favorite candy bars, to desserts to take home to share with their families, to a surprise breakfast or lunch, or any other creative food idea that comes to mind. If you don’t know the teacher’s food favorites, ask your child. More than likely they will have some idea. If not, find a nearby coworker and have them do some investigating. There are lots of cute ideas on the internet on how to incorporate food for Teacher Appreciation Week (especially on a teacher favorite that you may have heard of called Pinterest).
Last but not least, gift cards also made the cut. Although I am positive any cards would be greatly coveted, most teachers I know, including myself, seem to have an affinity to Target, Starbucks and/or Walmart. Sticking with any of these choices is a shoo-in. Beyond cards, there were a few other unique ideas such as donating a favorite book to the class library, giving scrapbooks to store mementos from children, creating a photo book featuring pictures taken throughout the year, or even choosing a memorable Christmas ornament to remind the teacher of your child.
Teacher Appreciation Week is a time set aside to show teachers that they are loved, respected, and cherished for the ways they touch our children’s lives on a daily basis. In my mind, there really is no one thing I could do personally that would fully represent how much these men and women mean to us and our children. My hope this year is that through these tokens of gratitude, teachers will get a glimpse of the important impact that they have on this generation of children, and that they will feel loved and supported as much as they show our children that same love and support.