While I personally believe in finding creative ways to show appreciation for teachers ALL throughout the year (see #9), the end of the school year often correlates with teacher appreciation time. Here are 8 teacher appreciation ideas for gifts that will be truly valued, not buried in a closet.
1. Handwritten thank-you notes: Online communications are fantastic – we here at MemberHub know that just about as well as anyone! – but for heartfelt teacher thank-yous that will be cherished for years to come, nothing beats a handwritten note. Even if your children are young, they can tell you what they want to say and you can write it for them, with the child adding his or her own signature or drawing.
2. Gift cards: It can be easy even for grown-ups to forget sometimes that teachers are people, too, with full and busy lives and interests outside of school. Gift cards to a favorite store are always appreciated. Even if you don’t know a teacher well, a credit at a local (or online) bookstore or coffee shop is a safe bet that certainly won’t go to waste.
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3. Cash: Granted, it can be a little awkward if you try to slip the teacher a crisp, covert $20 bill, like you’re angling for a better table at a Vegas nightclub. But a coordinated class gift of money can be a thoughtful and much-appreciated gesture, especially if it’s accompanied by a handwritten note (see #1, above). The underlying message should be that the class wants the teacher to treat him- or herself to something really special.
4. Something for the classroom: If your teacher has been hankering all year for, say, a 3-D printer for classroom projects, a class gift of the coveted item will both help the teacher out and make him or her smile for years to come, thinking about the special class that made it possible. For something like this, talk to the teacher first – best to get it right and sacrifice the surprise aspect.
5. A theatrical or musical presentation: Kids, as you well know, can be born performers. A class song or skit in the teacher’s honor can be a fun, meaningful, and one-of-a-kind way to honor a special educator.
6. “Summer in a box”: Teachers enjoy summer break almost as much as kids do (okay, maybe even more, sometimes). So go ahead and bundle up a beach chair, towel, sunhat, lemonade mix, etc., and present all in a themed box or beach bag.
7. A special class book: Buy a copy of a book the class studied that year and have each student write handwritten notes and well-wishes in it – sure to become a treasured keepsake for the teacher.
8. Anything handmade by the kids: Whether as a gift from an individual family or a coordinated gift from the whole class, teachers like nothing better than hand-crafted expressions of love and appreciation made by the kids themselves. That’s the whole reason they do what they do, day in and day out.
9. Show appreciation all year long: Okay this isn’t really a gift idea as much as it is a strategy. This past school year at my child’s elementary school we did something that really helped everyone celebrate teachers and staff all year long. In Wake County, we have about 4-5 early release days throughout the year. These are days where schools end a few hours early and students go home around lunch time. What we did was have a teacher appreciation day on every early release day. In other words, parents and the PTA found amazing ways to show our appreciation for our teachers multiple times throughout the year. It really worked well and it was obvious how showered our teachers felt on those early release days.
Happy summer to all the hard-working teachers out there!