Teacher Gifts: A Lesson in Meaningful Spending

Thank You for being my teacher cropWithin a few weeks, the school bells will be ringing out for the last time before summer holidays, and it will be time to bid adieu to another school year.

Invariably, the end of the school year brings with it numerous school concerts, plays, presentations and chances for reflection. My personal favourite was the year my son’s class tried to stage a butterfly release ceremony.  Mother Nature intervened, and what was meant to be a touching moment, turned into a bit of a chaotic comedy sideshow, complete with soggy six-year-olds. My son’s unflappable teacher not only reined them all in, but had the crowd laughing at the end.

That said, this is also the time of year to show your child’s appreciation for their teacher’s hard work throughout the school year. However, for many, these gifts are a worry point- both in terms of finding something that is appropriate and affordable.

It really is the “Thought that Counts”

I count a number of teachers among my circle of friends, and I assure you, their choice to teach has very little to do with the end of the year loot. They teach because they have something to share and because they derive tremendous satisfaction from investing their time in children. By the same token, use this as a guide when coming up with a way in which to express your appreciation.  Teachers play a major role in your child’s day, every day. It is about acknowledging that role, rather than showering them with expensive gifts.

Invite Your Child to Participate

Teachers want to know that the hours they have spent through the year with your child were appreciated and noticed, not just by you, but by your child. Have your child compile a list with a theme (i.e. most fun moments, times you encouraged me, what I will remember about grade three, etc.) and build a scrapbook, write a story or draw a series of pictures to represent the year.  This is inexpensive and heartfelt.

Meaningful Gifts

Buying another knick-knack, mug or box of chocolates to add to the teacher’s growing pile, although bought with honourable intentions, does very little to express the personal thanks that are really behind the gift. While this may seem like an easy fix, you, as the gift-giver, are incurring an unnecessary expense and the teacher is not really receiving the message that you are trying to send.

As a rule of thumb, teachers often do appreciate gifts that serve a function in their lives, whether for a hobby, an indulgence or for their own families. Some teachers even encourage donations to a charity or cause that matters to them.

Initiate a Group Gift

They say that there is strength in numbers, and that adage holds particularly true in this instance.  Rather than spending a large sum on something, stretching yourself thin, band together a group of parents to each contribute a reasonable sum to go towards a gift certificate for a favourite restaurant, sporting event, spa or store. Not only will your more budget-friendly contribution carry more purchase power when added with others, the other parents will be grateful that you have solved their gift dilemma for them.

Plan Ahead  

We apply budgets against time all year round, so why shouldn’t this be the same? Send a note to the teacher here and there celebrating small moments throughout the year, with a small token, like a coffee card. Not only is this more supportive of a standard month-to-month budget, your note of thanks carries extra weight because it is unexpected and uniquely genuine.