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Choosing a Gift
Over the years I have collected a lot of mugs. Each is adorned with accolades such as World's Best Teacher, #1 Teacher, and Teachers Rule. While I appreciate the sentiment behind each and every one of these, there are only so many mugs that a person needs. So, this article is designed to give you a teacher's perspective on where we most appreciate the time or money that parents invest in saying thank you. There are ideas for male and female teachers here, and all are guaranteed to be hits with the teacher in your lives.
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Without a doubt, one of the most popular gifts from parents has to be gift cards. The flexibility and choice that they offer are hard to match, and almost all teachers appreciate the opportunity to choose something themselves. If you do not know the teacher on a personal basis, stick to gift cards from popular restaurants, book stores, or large grocery/department stores in the area, because most teachers love to read, have little time to cook, or would love to save money on their weekly grocery bills. If you know your child's teacher a little better then you may want to consider a more niche gift card. If they are in the process of moving house, for instance, consider a gift card for a home improvement store. If they are a keen gardener, why not get a gift certificate for a local garden center.
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Letters of Recommendation
Letters of thanks to the principal are among the least used, but are often the most appreciated, gifts from parents. They require nothing more than a little time, but the impact that they have is always great. If you know a teacher who has really worked hard to improve the personal and academic growth of your child, then one of the best things you can do is let their principal know. You may be surprised at how little recognition we sometimes get for the job that we do. Working days are long, weekends are stolen from us, and the pay is often not what we might hope for, so a short letter of gratitude to the principal goes a very long way.
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Many school libraries are under-equipped, but if there is one thing that most classrooms are crying out for, it is good reading material. Visit a local bookstore, or browse on Amazon, to see what popular children's books are available. If you want to be sure not to duplicate a book that the classroom already has, get your child to look for it in class, or ask the teacher if they have any on their wish list that they would appreciate as a gift. You could also consider a subscription to an age appropriate magazine like Sports Illustrated for Kids, or the National Geographic Kids magazine. These types of magazines are great teacher gift ideas because they are educational and last the whole year round.
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The Personal Touch
Personal gifts are often great teacher gift ideas as they show that you have an interest in the teacher as a person, as well as for the job they are being paid to do. So, if you know that your teacher is going on vacation this year, why not pack up a small gift basket with sun tan lotion, beach towels or some reading materials. If the teacher is a known chocoholic, and let's face it, who isn't (ahem), then a collection of hand picked chocolate bars would be perfect. Even if you don't know the teacher very well, the chances are that your child does, because elementary teachers are know for imparting their personality, likes and dislikes into their teaching. Home baked good are also well received, as are plants, and popular classroom supplies like pens, markers, pencils, glue, scissors, etc.
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The Collaborative Approach
Some parents prefer to join together when they are looking for gifts for teachers. This can be done in small groups, or as a whole class. In some classes I have known, parents have been known to form a small committee to collect donations from all parents willing to contribute, and then using that money to buy a variety of gifts like those listed above. This helps keep individual costs down, and can help with the thinking process too. For collaborative ideas you may want to consider themed baskets like a movie night theme with popcorn, DVDs, and drinks, a spa basket with lotions and gift vouchers, or a sports themed basket filled with sports memorabilia of a favorite team or sport.
There are many great teacher gift ideas to choose from, but regardless of what you finally decide upon, you can rest assured that each and everyone is appreciated for the thought and effort that went into choosing it. For teachers, seeing the faces of the students when you open their gift is often reward enough.