Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - December 2013

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Gifts that get an "A" Holiday presents any teacher will love By ASHLEY TALMADGE Most teachers light up when talking about the "words of wisdom" they've collected from students. T he holiday season is here, and you'd like to give your child's classroom teacher a special gift. But what do teachers really want? I was a teacher for several years before having my own children, and I've spoken to countless other teachers. Yes, most will graciously accept yet another "World's Greatest Teacher" mug or a mini school bus ornament. But unless the teacher is collecting such items to use in a career-long assemblage project, they are best left on the store shelves. The following are some "can't go wrong" teacher gift ideas. (And be sure to check school policies, as many districts limit the value and type of gifts received by their employees.) Personal notes A hand-written note, along with a card made by your child, is one of the best-loved teacher gifts. Most teachers light up when talking about the "words of wisdom" they've collected from students. These are keepsakes, cherished and saved for years to come. If you are writing a letter to your child's teacher, be specific about what she is doing well. Instead of writing, "You're a great teacher!" try "I love how you nurture Lucy's excitement for science with lots of hands-on activities. She always looks forward to writing status notes in the 'Guinea Pig Log' when it's her turn to care for them." Food gifts being in his teacher's class. For instance, cut some construction paper into snowflakes. Attach a word or phrase to each one that describes a favorite classroom experience or teacher trait. Stuff an envelope with several snowflakes and a small (wallet-sized) signed photo of your child. Gift cards Although parents often say this feels like an impersonal gift, teachers love gift cards. They can choose what they want to buy and when. It's a sad fact that most teachers spend more than $500 of their own money annually in purchasing classroom materials. Thus, gift cards to Creative lists If your child is young or does not enjoy writing, there are many clever ways to list what he loves about 28 Hudson Valley Parent n Target, Staples, and Barnes & Noble are universally appreciated. Unless you know the teacher's diet and habits well, take care in giving gift cards for food and personal services. Most teachers would welcome a Starbuck's card, but some might not be as enthused about trying the new hotspot in raw foods cuisine. December 2013 While teachers often enjoy edible gifts, food items should be non-perishable and healthy. Energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit are at a premium, because they can be stored and used for quick snacks. A teacher often receives so many homemade cookies and coffee cakes that much is thrown away. And many don't want to sabotage a diet with an influx of caramel candy. Class gifts Although it takes a bit more planning, there are many benefits to presenting a gift from the whole group. Such a gift can show off the class's personality, reduce the financial expenditure for individual families, and avoid any pretenses of favoritism. If the group decides to go in on a gift card, the teacher can be presented with much greater buying power. (At only $5 a head, a class of 25 could give a $125 gift card, without violating most district policies.) When coordinating such efforts, it is important that the gift be presented from all students, whether or not they contributed financially, and all students should have a chance to sign the group card. Ashley Talmadge is a freelance writer

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