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PHOTO: DEAN SHARESKI/FLICKR CC
We asked, and they told us!
Teachers, ECEs and other child-care providers do so much for our children each day that it's hard to know what token could truly sum up our appreciation.
So we polled a bunch of teachers and ECEs to find out which gifts have stood out for them over the years. The result: this list of thoughtful, useful, and sure-to-be-treasured ideas for your child's teacher or caregiver.
All teachers loved when parents took the time to remember something unique to the teacher and gave a gift accordingly. For example, one teacher appreciated a frog-shaped bike bell—the parent knew the teacher rode to work and the bell fit her quirky sense of style.
Teachers were divided on edible gifts: Some loved them, and one teacher recalled a cocoa-lover's gift package complete with various toppings. But others were less thrilled with baked goods from parents they barely knew or who weren't aware of an allergy or food sensitivity. The gifts were still appreciated, but not enjoyed.
Many people aren’t keen on baked goods from someone they don’t know well, so packaged treats are generally a better idea. And if you're going for chocolate, a few chocolates from a quality chocolatier are generally better than a 1-pound bar of the cheap stuff.
You could also opt for herbs and spices or a basket of unusual packaged goodies from specialty stores.
Many teachers appreciated crafts make by children, even if they already had an abundance of them. The time and effort put into these gifts made them special.
Classroom libraries can always use more books. Look for beyond-the-norm books unlikely to be on the shelf already. Something educational, artistic, or a new book just published are good options.
If you have a good eye and take note of the educator's style throughout the year, an accessory like earrings, a scarf, a tie or even socks (we know one male teacher who likes to entertain the kids by having socks for every occasion) can be winners.
A gift card always fits! You may think it's impersonal, but most teachers we asked appreciated gift cards in any amount, no matter how small. Teachers mentioned buying classroom supplies with gifts cards or treating themselves to a book, a night at the movies, or something else they wouldn't normally buy. Popular choices were Starbucks, Target, Winners, Cineplex, Chapters/Indigo, and pre-paid Visa gift cards.
You don't need to spend money to make a gesture. Hands-down, the teachers we asked said what they treasure most is a thank-you. Write a heartfelt note in a card or on nice stationery to them know how they have made a difference for your child and include a thank-you (or a drawing) from your child as well.