By Cari Young
When you have an exceptional teacher, you want to honor him or her in an extraordinary way. Anyone who has been teaching for a few years already has an extensive collection of assorted items decorated with apples. If you really appreciate your child's teacher, you want to go above and beyond the ordinary gift. Here are a few creative ideas.
- Words from the Heart: Many teachers say that the most precious gift they ever received was a heartfelt note from a parent about how the teacher impacted a child's life. This costs nothing but can be priceless to the teacher who receives it. Try to think of specific things the teacher said or did that helped your child to learn more or to become a better person. Put them in a handwritten letter and deliver it to your child's teacher.
- Scrapbooks: I have seen tough teachers cry when presented with a well-made scrapbook. Assemble pictures of each child, class parties and field trips. Collect thank you notes from each student, and put them together with the photos in a pre-made photo album or scrapbook. Not only can the teacher remember a special year, she can also share the scrapbook with her friends and family, to show them the significance of her work.
- Dinner: Do you think that your child's teacher is exhausted at the end of the day? Do you think that when she gets home, no matter how tired she is, her kids are asking what's for dinner, just like your kids do? Give a teacher a break with either a home-cooked meal or a restaurant gift certificate.
- Magazines: All teachers want to encourage students to read more. Often they stretch their own paycheck to buy books and other reading materials to have on hand for students who finish work early or need extra reading practice. There are many educational magazines that a teacher would love to receive for the classroom (Arthur, Ranger Rick, Kids Discover, or National Geographic Kids, to name a few). And this gift keeps giving for a whole school year.
- Treat a Day: Over the course of a week, put a small treat with a note in your teacher's box each day. She'll have a surprise to look forward to each morning! Monday: a Payday candy bar with a note: "Thought you could use an extra payday." Tuesday: Junior Mints, or any other mint candy with a note: "You mint so much to us this year." Wednesday: A package of nuts with a note: "We're nuts about our teacher." Thursday: Hershey's Hugs with a note: "Hugs for our favorite teacher." Friday: A candle with a note: "You have brightened our child's life."
- Shirts: This teacher gift will never collect dust because it will be worn again and again. For one day a week, your favorite teacher's morning routine will go more quickly because she will not have to think about what to wear to school. Many companies make teacher shirts with colorful graphics and pro-teacher messages in a variety of styles and colors.
- Public Praise: The difficult work that teachers do often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the wonderful things that your favorite teacher does for his students. Not only will the teacher enjoy the letter (especially the copy you put in his box at school), but he will probably receive congratulations from others in your community who read the letter!
- Books: Almost every teacher loves books and reading. There are many types of books which make great teacher appreciation gifts: inspirational teacher books, picture books about special teachers, humorous school stories, and collections of poems about school. A teacher can look back on a gift book throughout the year when she needs encouragement on a tough day.
- World Changers: Many organizations sell gifts which can change the world. You can adopt a zoo animal or donate a chicken to a third world family, all in the name of your child's teacher. Often these organizations will provide certificates and newsletters to the teacher, adding educational value to a gift that's already heartwarming.
- Wild Ideas: For the teacher who has absolutely everything, try something wild and crazy to let him know how much you appreciate him. Put a bright pink flamingo in his front yard, with a sign around the flamingo's neck saying: "We were tickled pink to have Mr. Smith for a teacher this year." Won't that be a great Monday morning surprise?
Cari Young is a mom and former teacher, who is working to transform education through teacher appreciation, with creative teacher appreciation events and exceptional teacher gift ideas at http://www.classroom-teacher-gifts.com.