Back-to-school presents for teachers? I'm raising the nope flag

Aug 24, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Image: Wolfgang Förster/EyeEm/Getty Images

First-day-of-school teacher presents? Really?

Don’t get me wrong, back-to-school season is happy and fun. I love the excitement of seeing new adventures through the eyes of my children. I love their enthusiasm for new crayons and new backpacks, although my enthusiasm doesn’t extend to the metric ton of glue sticks that are required to attend elementary school. I also love that my kids are out of my house for approximately seven hours a day and that I don’t have to endure whining about being bored and constant door-slamming. Let’s be real.

I love going to meet-your-teacher night. I love seeing all the cute first-day-of-school pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds.

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I don’t love the moms in our midst who are taking back-to-school to a new level of crazy. I’m talking about first-day-of-school teacher gifts.

I have great respect for teachers; let’s just get that out of the way. Teachers genuinely love and care for my children and want the best for them. They’re criticized more than they’re praised, and goodness knows they’re not in it to make bank.

I appreciate my kids' teachers specifically. I give a small gift at Christmas and a handwritten thank-you at the end of the school year. Those things are from the heart, and I don’t need anyone to prompt me to do them. But last school year, I noticed things were getting a little crazy. My kids brought home numerous notes asking me to send in packaged snacks for Teacher Appreciation Days. The room mom from one of my boys’ classrooms took up a collection to get the teacher an end-of-year gift from the parents (which ended up being a triple-digit cash gift card) and another collection to give the class an end-of-year party on top of the end-of-year party the school put on that cost nothing.

But the latest excuse to out-Pinterest one another running through my news feed is just too much.

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We are out of control.

This is "bring your teacher a shiny red apple" on steroids. There’s no reason to add “craft the perfect back-to-school present for the teacher” to the long-ass list of things I have to do to get my kids ready for school. I just spent over $200 on school supplies, and I haven’t even bought everything on the list. I haven’t been shopping for school clothes or taken my kids to get haircuts. The amount of money flying out of my bank account makes me cringe. I have a to-do list that’s scary long, and I’m spending a crap-ton of money to get my kids ready for public education.

I’m raising the “nope” flag. Enough.

I'm not going to say that teachers don't appreciate your presents, because I'm sure they do. Who doesn't like presents? But teachers don't expect a gift for teaching your child. A child who brings a gift on the first day doesn't get treated any better than the child who doesn't. And remember what I said about teachers genuinely loving and caring for children? It's true. Seriously, I bet "I know the pay isn't great, but there are all those tea bags and notepads I get on the first day of school" isn't said by... well, it probably isn't said by any teacher.

If it’s in your heart to give your child’s teacher a gift to celebrate the first day of school, rock on. She will probably accept it with a smile and a thank-you. But don’t do it because it’s the next new thing social media is guilting you into or because you’re afraid you’ll be one-upped by another overachieving Pinterest freak.

Don’t do it.

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Do go to meet-the-teacher night. Smile. Tell her you’re glad to meet her, and mean it. Put the metric ton of school supplies into the cubby, and don’t make a snide remark about the shitload of glue sticks. Make a point to say "hello" on the first day of school. Smile, and wish her well. If you have time to give, ask her what she needs, and follow through. Be nice. Be interested.

But no to the presents.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

funny notes left for teachers
Image: SheKnows