Life, Simply Led

Teacher Presents – Good Idea Or Bane Of Your Life?

It’s that time of year again. The school gates open and our children stream out, laughing in the hazy heat* of a summer’s day, free for several long, lazy weeks. I remember grabbing my pump bag (PE shoes for those of you not from The Midlands) and running all the way home without a backward glance. I don’t think I even said goodbye to my teachers for the summer never mind giving them a thoughtful gift.

These days the teacher gift seems to be a competitive parental nightmare. When I was teaching I would stagger home in July and again at Christmas weighed down with flowers, maltesers (which I foolishly admitted to liking once, I received so many boxes I can no longer eat them!) bits of china, large cuddly toys etc all gratefully received but slightly overwhelming.

I then wrote thank you letters to each and every child painfully conscious that this probably encouraged them further when many of their families really couldn’t afford a gift and I didn’t need one. It was lovely that they wanted to do this but I got so much more joy from seeing them develop and learn over the year I was privileged to have them. The thank you letters they had made themselves were the things which pulled at my heartstrings and I still have some of them fifteen years on long after the china has gone to charity and the maltesers have been eaten.

Now, as a mother myself I am faced with The Present Dilemma. I have given boxes of biscuits, chocolates, wine and flowers over the years and I have seen bouquets get bigger and bigger as people compete to show their gratitude and stand out from the crowd. I have also seen the less well off parents apologising for their meagre offerings and that is just not right.

I made a decision about five years ago that I wouldn’t join in anymore, knowing that the teachers wouldn’t mind a bit. However, my children did. We decided between us that we would give the whole class a gift as they left it (and again at Christmas) and this has been such fun. We have given adopted animal kits and provided school kits to children in other countries. When Bonus Boy left nursery last year we gave bird feeders for the garden he had enjoyed playing in so much.

Yesterday he trotted into school to say goodbye to his reception teacher clutching in his hand a bunch of the sweet peas he grew from seed in toilet roll tubes and some of the lavender he loves. He wandered around the garden with his scissors and put together a little posy. He thought it was perfect. So did she.

Do you give gifts to teachers? Do you do it out of a sense of duty/obligation? Would you really rather not? Have you found the answer to The Present Dilemma?

*I know it is raining but that doesn’t conjure up the image I wanted. I have used poetic license and shall be singing a sunshine song with Bonus Boy later on to blast away the clouds and bring on Summer!

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24 Comments

  1. Some great ideas, Chris. I’ll make a mental note for next year. The photograph of BB with the posy he made himself brought a tear to my eye x

    • He was so pleased with it! A neighbour stopped us for a chat on the way to school and asked if they were from our garden and he nearly burst with pride as he nodded ‘Yes’!

  2. I really love the fact he made that himself! They look wonderful, I would love to get a posy like that!

    • I secretly wanted him to give it to me! He’s a sweetheart.

  3. Aww what a truly wonderful gift. I just gave chocolates to his nursery teachers never thought of anything like that. What great ideas, thank you x

  4. As a teacher, all gifts were gratefully received – smelly things, chocolate, whatever. I really didn’t have to be big or expensive. I viewed it as an appreciation from the parents rather than a competition. Now that DD is in nursery, one mother collected a modest sum of money from us all and bought presents for each the staff at Passover. At the end of the year they are each getting a gift certificate from a shop like M&S. Two pounds per family would give your teacher 60 pounds to spend in M&S – who wouldn’t love that?

    • That’s lovely indeed although I would still feel uncomfortable I think. Also, it does put pressure on everyone to contribute even if, maybe, they’d really rather not. I always gratefully received any gifts and I know it is important to teach them to say thank you but I really do think that something which has come from them (a card or something they have made) and a spoken thank you from parents is enough. x

  5. I think gift-giving to teachers should follow the same rules as gift-giving for anyone else: if you think the person deserves a gift to show appreciation then why not? I think the pupils enjoy the moment more than the staff member concerned to be honest.

    The thorny issue at my kids’ first school was their classes worked as a unit, so my kids didn’t have one teacher but three (plus one or two ETAs). That kind of had a bearing on what we bought.

    • It gets out of hand when you start buying for all the assistants too…I had a present as a parent helper once which is very flattering but also too much. Of course kids should be allowed to show their appreciation, it is when it becomes competitive and all about the parents that I object.

  6. Now, this is interesting because I’ve just written a post about how for the first time ever in 10 years of teaching I have not received a single present or card from anyone in the school. I am absolutely gutted and so very upset. It’s not what the present is, it’s the fact that they wanted to say ‘thank you’.

    • I have read your post (and we have had a little DM chat) and I am sorry you feel undervalued and unappreciated, not nice :-(

  7. We just make cake and take it in. The children have made cards. I’ve already dropped a clanger as Missy says that the HLTA in her class is not in tomorrow. Arrgh.

    • I think cake is great and cards are fab! I have bought/made gifts on many occasions for people who are not at work on that day!

  8. That’s a lovely pot. Your son sounds like a sweetheart. I bed his teachers loved having him in their class and were really pleased with his gift as it was from him. Love the bird feeder idea as well.

    • He is!! Thank you! The bird feeders went down really well :-)

  9. Interesting post! At our school there are groans about competition, but we don’t compete — wejust give small tokens to show our gratitude. This time we gave small boxes of chocolates (Lidl, £2 max) to each teacher/assistant — I doubt our teachers want huge boxes, they have so many. Last term we gave tiny, scented candles — they cost about 50p each but smelled nice, and the kids always drop in a note or picture which I let them write/draw themselves.

    • Small gifts are great, what matters is that appreciation and ‘thank you’. The pictures and notes are what stay in teachers’ minds. :-)

  10. Over the past twenty years I have avoided buying presents for teachers ‘en masse’, it just didn’t feel right to be part of something that was so competetive. The only concessions I ever made were when my boys left school.Both sons had two teachers who were absolutely marvellous, going above and beyond the realms of their remit. I sent them both a personal note and two cinema tickets. I think they were appreciated.

  11. Oooh I love the idea of giving the whole class something – ie. something that many benefit from! And the home grown flowers are adorable! We are not yet in the “gift giving stage”… but if it happens, we will be baking cookies. We love baking and I think most people appreciate something homemade :-)

    Maggy

  12. We only ever give something the boys have made. I do not feel that I have to give them something, but I do write them a letter to say thankyou for teaching my child through the year. This year duw to illness they just got a hand drawn card.

  13. That’s so sweet!! My children have been fortunate enough to have some really wonderful teachers over the years and I’ve always tried to show my appreciation to them with at least a thank you card at the end of the year. Sometimes I’ve included a gift card or cute summer survival kit if I know they have kids themselves.

  14. Okay, I will be really frank here but I actually find the idea of giving your teacher a gift absolutely ludicrous!! Why? Teachers get a salary don’t they?! Parental competing for who’s given the best gift is showing a really bad example to the children. Nothing wrong with a bit of competition at all, but when it comes to who has the best present, that’s just appalling. I sent a thank you card to the staff at Amy’s last school (she left on Thursday) and I honestly wish I hadn’t bothered. I have a blog post scheduled to publish tomorrow on the subject of teacher/parent relationships which left me particularly sad about it all.

    Sorry for being so blunt! It’s the new me – opinionated, lol.
    CJ xx

  15. We made cakes this year. Have foubd that the children have so many people in the school who have made an impact on them that a big batch of chocolate fudge cakes & a thank you card for all the staff keeps everyone – and my purse – happy!!

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