Whilst some might argue that teaching is a job much the same as any other, most parents would agree that voluntarily spending time with a class of children is one that requires a big heart and a true vocational calling.
So with the end of the summer term almost upon us, we take a look at how to say farewell to your child's teacher and thank them for their efforts during the long, hot summer term.
Do you send your teacher a gift at the end of term? Do you feel pressured to do so, or do feel its just their job? ... If you have an opinion you want to share add your comment below!
So how best to show your gratitude? Here are our top tips for gifts and for the etiquette surrounding the class ‘whip round’.
What not to buy
- Candles - a good candle is a true joy, but unless you are quite sure on the teacher’s preference for scents – steer clear. Teachers, like most people, like to choose how their home smells for themselves
- Scented lotions, shower and bath gels – yes, it’s that scent issue again
- Home décor – not sure of his/her taste? Then avoid photo frames and vases
- Stuffed animals – JUST. NO.
- Anything that reads ‘World’s Greatest Teacher’. Trust us, any teacher worth their salt has a cupboard stuffed full of these items. In fact, just avoid anything that screams ‘clutter’ (fridge magnets – we are looking at you)!
- Food and drink items – unless you are sure that your teacher LOVES said item, it will end up on the coffee table in the staff room (with a post-it note saying ‘please help yourself’) 20 minutes after the last child departs. Consider also that eating home-made items prepared in a strange kitchen is not for everyone. Lastly, given our location, alcohol is a definite no-no too.
Ok, so we have just rubbished all your ideas, what’s left that’s good?
What teachers love to receive
- A personal note with a few words about the impact their hard work has had on your child. Refer to any funny or memorable events and get your child to draw something on the front for that added personal touch. A warm and thoughtful note is small, easily stored and a memento to look back upon in the future
- Gift cards/vouchers. Unsentimental? Well, maybe, but look upon it as a day out with the opportunity to buy exactly the special treat they want. What could be better? Get together with other parents to raise some real spending power (but to read on to consider the issues around class collections).
- Stationery. Beautiful notebooks and pens will always be used and will save your teacher from spending their own hard earned cash on essentials
- Your time. The end of term is often an intensely busy time for teachers, as they write reports, continue to teach and to prepare resources and plans for the next year. Offering to clear out a cupboard or sort through and repair their collection of books will be more helpful than you might imagine
The class collection: to contribute or not to contribute?
Some parents will feel tremendously grateful to the parent who offers to take charge of the collection and gift buying. One less job on your to do list!
That said, many parents report feeling pressurised to contribute an unaffordable amount of cash. This is a particular issue in nurseries, where higher staff:child ratios can mean that there are four or more members of staff in your child’s class. Add to that the nurse, the admin and management teams – the figures can quickly become unmanageable... and do spare a though for families with two or more children!
The prevalence of parent’s WhatsApp groups (where everyone can see your response!) serves only to increase the pressure to contribute. Rather than fretting about this, we recommend being direct, polite and FIRM! A simple “No, thank you” is a more than adequate response to pleas for cash that you can’t afford to spend.
However the social pressures make you feel, the vast majority of teachers really do join the profession for the simple joy of working with children. Your ongoing support, feedback and thanks throughout the nursery year is more appreciated than any gift.
To gift or not to gift, plus what is there too much? Have your say on Facebook!