Teacher Appreciation Week :: Think Outside the Box


It’s the beginning of May, and that means Teacher Appreciation Week is upon us. It’s a time to show our children’s teachers how much we really appreciate what they do. And, with the events of the past two years, teachers need to feel appreciated now more than ever

Each year, when this special week approaches, the big question is, “What do I buy my child’s teacher as a gift?” There are so many options! It can be hard to know what to buy. Gift cards are always an option, of course, but there are also many other ideas. Today, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week. And as a teacher myself, I’m going to help you do just that!

1. ALL teachers deserve to be appreciated.

When it comes to teacher appreciation, I feel like most of the attention gets put on elementary school teachers. But it’s important to remember our middle school and high school teachers as well. They work equally as hard and deserve recognition too. And, let’s not forget related arts teachers either. Those teaching our children Art, Band, Orchestra, Drama, Dance, STEM, ALERT, and foreign languages deserve to be shown appreciation as well. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “You expect me to buy a gift for ALL of my kids’ middle school and high school teachers? That’s a lot!” With elementary school, it is a lot easier because your child only has one teacher. Maybe two if there is an aide in the class. But in middle and high school, they have at least six teachers, if not more. So, how can you navigate getting gifts for them? 

If you are financially able, then go ahead and bless all of them with a small gift. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. But, if you are not able, then ask your child(ren) to pick maybe two of their teachers to whom they would like to give a small gift. That way, you don’t have to break the bank or worry about buying for all of their teachers, but you are still able to bless some of them. That’s better than not giving to any of them at all. 

2. Practical items are totally acceptable gifts.

Have you ever wondered why your child’s elementary school teachers always ask parents to donate Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and other such practical supplies for the school year? It’s because we go through them like candy! Even as a middle school teacher, my students are constantly in need of such items. I always have a supply of Kleenex, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, disposable face masks, and bottled water on hand for my students. These are items the school does not supply, but students are ALWAYS in need of. So, I buy them for my classroom all year long. 

I would greatly appreciate it if I were given a gift basket of these supplies for Teacher Appreciation Week. I would not balk at it one bit. It may seem like a boring idea, but it’s very practical and helps save your child’s teachers some money. We spend our own money on these items; the school does not provide them. And, as we all know, teachers don’t make a lot of money. So every little way we can save helps a lot. 

3. Gift cards

We all know gift cards are a great gift. But, I encourage you to be careful about which gift cards you purchase. Unless you know for a FACT that your child’s teacher likes a specific fast food place, donut shop, restaurant, or coffee shop, you will want to avoid buying food-specific gift cards. Even ones like Starbucks. Believe it or not, not everyone drinks coffee, and not everyone likes Starbucks. 

The best kind of gift card you can give is a Visa gift card. it will allow the teacher to use it on anything they like. Yes, getting gift cards to specific stores like Target and Walmart are good, but again, unless you know for sure where they like to shop, it’s best to avoid those. Your best bet is a simple Visa gift card that they are able to use anywhere on anything. 

4. Be cautious of giving food and candy.

Many people will give gifts like boxes of chocolate, donuts, cookies, trail mix, candy, and the like. But, again, unless you know for sure what your child’s teacher specifically likes, it may be better to avoid these items.

For example, while that box of chocolates may look delicious, what you may not know is that your teacher could have a food allergy to one of the ingredients. Or they may have a child with a food allergy, and they may not want to eat it. Maybe the teacher has a gluten intolerance, or it could just be that they don’t like a certain food item. 

If you’d like to give a special food item as a gift for teacher appreciation, I suggest asking your child’s teacher what special treats they like. That will ensure you are buying something that will truly be enjoyed and appreciated. 

5. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or even any money at all.

Being a teacher is very difficult. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. There have been so many days when I’ve asked myself why I’m even in this profession. I question my choice to be a teacher because of how frustrating, heartbreaking, overwhelming and exhausting it can be. 

But do you know what makes me feel better? It’s the little things … like when students stop by my classroom just to say hi and give me a hug. Or when a co-worker leaves me an encouraging note. But the one thing that encourages me and picks me up more than anything else, is a note of thanks from my students and/or their parents.

Nothing compares to receiving a note from a student saying thank you to me for helping them and encouraging them each day. It makes my day when parents send me an email telling me how much their child is enjoying my class and that they have seen a positive change in their child as a result of what they are learning. Those encouraging words are what help keep teachers going. So, encourage your child(ren) to write a note of thanks to their teacher. And also write one yourself. It may seem more important for your child’s teacher receives a note from them, but teachers also value notes of thanks from parents. 

6. Ask your child’s teacher what you can do for them.

Sometimes teachers just need some extra help. But we all know it can be hard to ask for help at times. So, why not beat them to the punch? Ask the teacher if they need parent volunteers in the classroom. If there is a special event coming up, maybe the teacher needs help organizing the event, or with providing a special snack for the class. Maybe you can come in one day and help them with making copies of materials, or setting out supplies for a project. Perhaps they just need someone to sit and chat with them for a few minutes to help relieve the stress of the day. 

If you’re able to help financially, see if there are any supplies they are running low on. Teachers can always use items like post-it notes, pens, pencils, index cards, scotch tape, and the aforementioned Kleenex and such. You could also find out if they have an Amazon wish list for their classroom, and purchase an item from that list. 

Anything you do for your child’s teacher will be greatly appreciated! Whether you give a traditional gift or one that’s more outside the box, the important part is that you show them how much they are appreciated for the way in which they educate our children. 

What items would you add to this list?


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