Teacher gifts are a common occurrence on Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Day, but should you give a gift on the first day of school?
Gifts not a must
Georgia mom Cindy M. thinks that first day of school gifts are unusual. “I don't know how I feel about beginning of the year gifts, it feels almost like a bribe," she says. "We have this huge list of supplies we have to get together for both of the kids and send on the first day. That always breaks my pocketbook.”
Gift-giving moms who feel uncomfortable sending a personal gift to a new teacher may opt to stick to classroom gifts instead. “I don't do back-to-school gifts, but I know how much money teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies, so I do get things off their wish lists for the classroom,” says Crys Melton, mom to two school-age kids in Arizona.
Small gift, big encouragement
A growing number of moms look forward to gifting their child’s teacher with a surprise on the first day of school. Katie R. from Colorado gives a first day of school gift every year. “I make a little survival kit that my kids bring on the first day. I include a pack of gum, breath mints, a couple chocolate bars, $5 Starbucks card, some organic lotion, some hard candies and a little note of encouragement letting her know I will be praying for her and her class throughout the year.“
Katie says it’s not about trying to be teacher’s pet. "I don't do it so she likes my kid better, I simply enjoy giving and like to make someone's day," she says.
What do teachers think?
“I don't think a first day gift is necessary at all!” says first grade teacher Whitney Dean. “When you are a teacher, you are already super excited on the first day of school. The kids are the gifts.” Dean says that gifts are more common after a child gets to know his or her teacher, and often are given as a thank you on Teacher Appreciation Day, or at the end of the school year.
Back-to-school gift ideas
A first day of school gift may not be expected, but if you feel weird about sending your child back to school empty-handed, here are some gift ideas any teacher will appreciate:
- Baked goods – Baked gifts are a sweet and inexpensive way to show a teacher you care, and they can easily be shared with the class or among the other teachers.
- Classroom consumables – Schools are facing constant budget cuts, and dedicated teachers are more frequently using their own funds to supply the classroom. School supplies like crayons and construction paper are always in demand, and basic consumables like Kleenex and hand sanitizer are usually in short supply.
- Gift cards – If you aren’t sure what to get your child’s teacher, consider a gift card to an office supply or craft store. That way the teacher will have money to spend on supplies when classroom budgets run dry later in the year.
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