Teacher Appreciation Day is May 2, and Teacher Appreciation Week is May 8-12. Wondering how to recognize the educators in your family’s life?
We asked teachers what gifts they love getting, and have the scoop (plus links) below—including free things you can do that’ll mean a lot.
Free Ways to Show Gratitude
- Notes go a long way: The teachers we asked said thank you notes mean more than you might think. Show your gratitude with a simple email or handwritten thank you note that tells them you notice what they’re doing and you appreciate them. Consider encouraging your child to write one, too, or—depending on their age—to draw a picture. Plus, it can be a fun family project one night after dinner.
- Take it a step further: Write an email to the board of education, and CC the school’s principal or administrative staff, as well as the teacher. Not sure what to say? Here’s an example you can customize:
Dear Members of the Grand Rapids Public School District Board of Education,
My child is a third grader at Congress Elementary School. I’m writing to express my gratitude for his teacher, Mary Fletcher.
Since starting the third grade, Matthew has become more confident at school, which is a result of Ms. Fletcher’s community building in her classroom. Over the past few years, Matthew has struggled with reading, but Ms. Fletcher has taken the time to help him learn reading skills in new ways, and I’m already seeing an improvement in his grades and abilities.
Matthew and I both feel fortunate to have such a dedicated teacher in his classroom.
- Donate items from home: Got a kid who’s left the nest, but their “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” collection is still on your shelves? Have a Scrabble game you’re never going to use? Donate it to the classroom. Your child’s teacher will appreciate the added resource, and you’ll have a little less clutter.
A few more supplies teachers can always use, which may be taking up space at home: Hats, mittens, and other winter gear for kids who forget theirs or don’t have their own, socks, period products, office supplies, arts and crafts items, calculators, and water bottles.
Gift Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank
- Gift cards: If you’ve got a little flexibility in your spending budget this month, teachers can always use gift cards. They may feel boring or impersonal to you, but the teachers we talked to said they can make all the difference on a tough day. Five or ten bucks to spend at a coffee shop? That’s enough to put a smile on a teacher’s face as they head into school. Other popular suggestions were Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble. Here’s an inside tip: TeachersPayTeachers.com. It’s a site where educators can share their lesson plans and activities with each other, often for a few cents or dollars each. It’s an extremely useful resource, and you can get gift cards starting at just $5.
- Supplies: Teachers told us to skip the cute mugs (they get tons) and spend that money on classroom supplies.
On average, elementary teachers get about $11 per student from their schools’ budgets, and have to spend an additional $33 out of pocket on each student during the academic year just to keep up with classroom resource needs.
Want to help? Here’s what teachers buy the most: Dry-erase markers, notecards, cleaning supplies, snacks for hungry kids, pencils, paper, notebooks, ring binders, organizing bins, tissues, and soap.
If You Can Afford to Spend a Little More
Here are some $20+ gifts that would make a teacher’s day:
- Board games for indoor recess
- Their own personal laminator
- Good pens
- Flair pens for grading (like these)
- A box of #2 pencils with this sharpener, which is quiet (!)
- A new rug for circle and story time
- A wireless speaker for the classroom (like this one)
- A portable charger (like this one)
- Subscriptions they’d never indulge in for themselves (like coffee, books, chocolates, and magazines)