The school year is in full swing and the holidays are just around the corner. Now is the time we, as parents and caregivers, have started thinking of how to thank our children’s teachers and show our gratitude for taking care of our little ones. Thanks are due now more than ever because teaching during a pandemic has dramatically increased teachers’ workload.
Perhaps we play it safe and choose to give them a gift card or candle. Or, possibly, we opt for the personalized route with their very own magnet for their fridge! Ms. Nancy deserves a reminder of your child every time she reaches in for a snack, don’t you think?
As a former administrator and childcare provider, I know all too well what it’s like to receive a one-of-a-kind gift from your students. It’s made me feel special and helped to get me through those extra long days that are inevitable every now and then. Looking back, I remember the handwritten cards I received and the pride my students had about handing me something they got just for me.
But, if I’m being honest, I don’t remember a lot of gifts. I’m sure along the way I received some pretty nice, yet unusable gifts that were quickly forgotten or regifted.
Maybe, you’re like me, though, and you want to consider new, thoughtful ways to thank your child’s teacher. I know how hard it can be to choose the right gift or show your thanks. I also know the pressure parents can feel to spend extravagantly, hoping to make the right impression.
Enter, 10 Thoughtful Ways to Thank Your Child’s Teacher.
This list is meant to help you be mindful of what your teacher really wants (or needs), without causing you to break your brain or bank. In fact, many of these things are entirely free, but go a long way in helping to make your teacher’s days/weeks/year better!
1) “A Few of My Favorite Things” Worksheet
It can be really hard to get to know your child’s teacher under normal circumstances, but even more so now that the pandemic has forced many parents to interact on a limited, as-needed basis. As an opportunity to get to know my child’s teacher better, I emailed them a copy of the “A Few of My Favorite Things” worksheet and asked them to return it, giving me a little insight into what I can send to them throughout the year or during the holidays. Keeping that list on my phone and referring to it on an errand or grocery run is especially helpful! (Note: these worksheets are also helpful for employees, colleagues, or anyone else you might want to thank.)
2) Saying Thank You
This is probably the easiest one to do, and yet is forgotten during those busy pick-up and drop-offs. Making sure to thank your child’s teacher (and modeling that for your child, as well) is a great way to let them know you appreciate them. If you don’t see your child’s teacher in person, you can also send a friendly “just because” email their way!
3) Picking up and Dropping Off ON TIME
Speaking of pick-up/drop-off, one way parents can help teachers, afterschool providers, etc. feel cared for is by respecting pick-up and drop-off times. For example, back when I ran an afterschool program, I really appreciated when parents came a few minutes before the program ended because it allowed me a little time to chat with them or clean up for the day without rushing out the door or neglecting something important.
4) Sharing with Your Community
One easy way to show your thanks is by sharing your experience with other parents. Following the school on social media, commenting on a picture, or even reassuring another parent of their childcare choice can go a long way in keeping your childcare provider in business. This also makes a world of difference for the smaller, independent providers who don’t rely on the same types of support, marketing reach, or incentives to help keep them afloat.
5) Not Sending in Your Sick Child
It can be really hard to have your child home sick from school. Believe me, I’ve lived through those questionable days when I’m not sure if it’s just allergies or something more all while juggling a full workload. But, especially now, I recognize how easily a virus or something more severe can spread through my child’s preschool and how we must all do our part to help protect each other. During this Covid pandemic, this is so much more important. Helping keep my child’s school and teachers healthy is just one way I’m able to say, “I care about you.”
6) Advocating for the Future of Education
Child care and public school education/services are essential for American families. If you’ve ever attempted to find childcare for your infant or waded in the lottery pool that is “school choice” you know how hard it can be to get in anywhere, let alone the school you want. Organizations like your local PTA, school board, or children’s advocacy groups like “Let’s Grow Kids” help to familiarize parents with the issues and needs of your child’s school while also advocating for change at the local and state level. These groups always need parent volunteers.
7) Care Packages
Perhaps the holidays are just too busy for you (I know they are for me!) Or maybe you’re not sure what holidays your teacher celebrates and want to be inclusive of other world celebrations or holidays. Sending in care packages (cough, filled with your teacher’s favorite things, cough) is a nice token to let them know they are loved throughout the year.
8) Learning about Your School or Childcare Facility
Part of what goes into selecting an excellent childcare facility for my family is knowing how the staff is treated and supported. Listen closely to how the director or administrator speaks about their staff. Knowing how staff is allowed creative freedom in their classroom, hourly wages, and professional development opportunities are all things that give me confidence and let me know that the staff is treated properly and enjoy being there. (This might also take a bit of internet digging or reading reviews if the information isn’t obvious.)
9) Taking Advantage of Parent/Teacher Conferences and Events
Showing up to your child’s open house, back-to-school night, or family picnic are all ways to help encourage communication between yourself and your child’s teacher. In building this relationship with them, you make it easier for your child’s teacher to share any thoughts or concerns they might be having and/or just check in to soothe your worries. I find these events especially important nowadays when so much of our parent-teacher communication is done via email, leading to miscommunication or hurt feelings when read without the full context of emotion or inflection.
10) Don’t Forget About the Support Staff!
I didn’t want this list to end without acknowledging the amazing support staff who also deserve our gratitude. Although they might not be the person you see at pick up or the one writing the monthly newsletter, rest assured they have a vital role in supporting your child. I make sure to include my child’s assistant teacher and director in “My Favorite Things” but also thank anyone else I see when I can, too. Other support staff may also include custodians, lunch monitors, administrative assistants, principals, bus drivers, etc.
Remember: It’s ALWAYS a good time to say “Thank You.” Don’t let your calendar or your wallet dictate your gratitude! Sometimes the smallest, most inexpensive things go the longest way in showing your thanks to your child’s teacher.
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