Teacher Appreciation Week is just around the corner. Yes, I get a whole week. Be jealous. In addition to this, the end of the school year is fast approaching. Unless you were buried in Snowmageddon at some point this summer, in which case you have a few months to go. Whatever the reason, the desire to give a gift to your child's teacher make suddenly strike you. But what on earth should you give them?
First, please know that this is not expected and you don't need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on your child's teacher. I know money is tight and things get hectic. It's very rare for me to get a gift from my students considering the population that I serve. Honestly, a nice email or phone call from a parent would mean the world to me and other teachers if you don't have the cash for a gift. With that said, if you want to give a gift, here are some ideas.
Pens/Pencils - Your kids might be well stocked, but not every kid is. I spend a lot of money every year on writing utensils for my students and very rarely get them back. While decorated pencils are cute, they often clog up the pencil sharpener, so plain pencils are best. In the younger grades, crayons and markers are also appreciated.
Paper - Whatever paper is used for your child's grade, from tablet to college rule, is beneficial. Like writing utensils, I spend a freakish amount of money every year on looseleaf for my students. Think in the hundreds. Yes, really.
Stickers - Kids love stickers. Even my 16 year old sophomores go nuts for stickers. Every teacher can find a use for stickers.
Classroom Library Books - I have a few hundred classroom library books, most of which I bought myself. Even in younger grades, teachers are in need of new and interesting books for students.
Post Its - I can never have enough. I like fun ones, but basic yellow is fine, too. Basically every size is used.
Mugs - I can never have enough mugs. Seriously. Most teachers drink some kind of hot beverage, be it tea or coffee. I'm also taking them home on accident or stuck with a dirty mug. Travel and regular mugs are appreciated.
Notepads - I send notes to parents and students. Yes, even in this digital age. If you have the time and inclination to get a nice notepad, personalized or not, for your child's teacher, it will definitely be used.
Water bottle/Cup - I drink freakish amounts of water. Those cute plastic cups with straws and tops are a big trend amount teachers right now. Most teachers spend a lot of time talking and keeping your throat well hydrated is very important.
Hand Sanitizer - I go through buckets of this. I love your little angels, but they have a lot of germs.
The Gift Card Route
Store Closest to School - See what store is closest to your school and choose a card from there. I never shop of Meijer normally, but it's right down the street from school. A gift card there would work the best because it's literally minutes from school for me. See what's close to your school.
Organize It - If you have the time and inclination, see if you can organize a card from any parents that want to chip in. Maybe you were going to give $10 and another was going to give $25 and a third wanted to give $20, but the three of you combined can get an easy to use single card instead of three separate cards.
Restaurant - If you find out what restaurant your child's teacher enjoys the most, this is a nice, thoughtful gift. If you're not sure on their favorite restaurant, go back to a store card. Store cards can be used on personal purchases or classroom purchases. A restaurant card won't work for every teacher. I don't have the time to go out with my own kids and busy teaching and coaching schedule, so a store card would work better for me.
Individual Snacks - Things like granola bars are a huge hit. They're portable and have a decent shelf life. Individual snacks are great for teachers because we often get 20 minute lunches and sometimes don't even get to eat during then. A quick snack during class change is great for us.
Candy! - I freaking love candy. Remember smaller is better. I've gone through a huge 1lb bag of chocolate before. I have no self control, so a smaller package is better.
Hot Beverages - Find out how your child's teacher gets their caffeine or hot pick me up. Maybe they like tea or coffee. Maybe they have a Keurig or a traditional coffee pot. Whatever way they take their hot beverage, they always need more.
Homemade - I'm always down for your homemade Chocolate Zucchini Bread or whatever. Bring it on! Just remember dietary restrictions and let us know if it's been around peanuts or whatever.
Whatever you decide on, you can't go wrong by showing your child's teacher that you thought of them. I'm always grateful no matter what gift I get!
Emilie is a high school English teacher with two children. She holds a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Secondary Education. After completing student teaching at an urban, Persistently Low Achieving (PLA) school, she was placed at another PLA school in the same school district. Her Ask a Teacher column can also be found over at Teaching Ain't for Heroes.