Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Teacher's Gift

If your child is in school, you are undoubtedly pondering what to get his/her teacher(s) for Christmas. The traditional bath sets, candles, lotions, candy, ornaments, etc. are all nice gifts, and often you can find them at great prices. But what if you could give your child's teacher a gift that costs nothing more than (a little) time, paper, and ink; yet, it would probably be the most meaningful and useful present she/he receives all year?

I'm talking about a heart-felt thank you note. Candles and lotions are great, but there's nothing like a gift that lets a teacher know that her hard work is truly appreciated. Thank-you notes from children and parents also serve practical purposes for teachers. Teachers can use these notes in their portfolios for job reviews/applications and for National Boards, and the notes would be a great "pick-me-up" on rough days.

Here are a few tips to help parents write a great thank-you note that is also useful:

1) Write the note by hand. If you must type your note, use a script font so that it looks more personal.

2) Use non-holiday stationary. A note card is fine, but a larger sheet of paper is easier to put in a portfolio. Non-holiday stationary makes the note look more official.

3) Be specific. Instead of saying "Thanks for all you do," say thank you for the specific things the teacher has done to help your child. For example, "I really appreciate the extra time you have spent helping Ben understand long division." or "Thank you for listening to Brynn when she was coping with her friend's moving. Your compassion helped her to get through that tough time."

A few tips for thank-you notes from a child:

1) Allow him/her to actually write the note - misspellings and all. A perfectly written note with complex sentences would not be genuine coming from a first grader.

2) Encourage your child to be specific. He might want to tell Mrs. D. that she is his favorite teacher, but help him to come with a reason or two that she is his favorite.

Another great idea is to send a copy of the thank-you note(s) to the principal. Administration usually only gets complaints about teachers, so hearing good things about a teacher would be greatly appreciated by the principal. (And of course, it would help the teacher too!)

If you still feel like you have to spend money on the teacher, I recommend making a donation to a local children's charity or to a cause that the teacher supports. My son and I are making a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in honor of his teachers. The money that we are able to spend on a gift will go much further at St. Jude than it would in a store.

(BTW: I have been teaching for 9 years, and I frequently get out the thank-you notes that parents and students have written to me over the years.)


Lori said...

What wonderful tips. Last year I wrote a poem to go with the gifts for my son's daycare providers. I got positive comments back from each one of them about how much they loved the gift & the poem! Words can go a lot further than people might think!

Tonya said...

Wow, a poem?! That's a great idea!


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