Most parents know about Teacher Appreciation Week in the first week of May every year. This is the week you send in a note, flowers, or a gift as a token of gratitude for teaching your child all year long. I love this tradition both as a parent and as a teacher. Nevertheless, your child’s teacher dedicates 8-14 hours a day to helping him/her become a global citizen and life-long learner. I hope to convince you that teaching is no small task and is worthy of receiving intentional and meaningful thoughtfulness all year long. Here are ten simple ways to show your child’s teacher appreciation all year long.
First of all, it is wonderful that you sign that homework folder every week, return permission slips, and show up for events, performances, family nights, PTO. You are among the few and the proud! However, I want to inspire you to go one step further and make meaningful connections with your child’s teacher.
A lot of parents agree with the ideology that a child will see the most success if you are on the same team as your child’s teacher. As an early elementary educator, I have met with hundreds of parents over the years. There are formal meetings such as Parent/Teacher conferences, and very informal social gatherings like the Winter Concert or International Night. In 10 years of teaching, I have had many supportive parents who invest in their child’s education, yet there were only a handful that strategically and meaningfully showed their appreciation on a daily basis.
Let me tell you a secret of most teachers: we expect hardly anything. Most teachers have very low expectations when it comes to gratitude. As a group of professionals, we work our behinds off with very little salary, very few resources, and not a lot of room for moving up the corporate ladder because we are passionate about engaging students to learn. We are overjoyed seeing a child learn to read, connect with an author, or conduct a successful experiment. Any seasoned teacher, if they are honest, will tell you that the simplest things make all the difference.
I urge you this year to be those parents who make the difference in a teacher’s day, week, month, or year. Below is a list of ways that will show a teacher your appreciation all year long (besides volunteering to be the room parent).
Regularly Send in Coffee and Chocolate
Make it a habit so your teacher looks forward to them. (Ex. the first of the month or Fridays). Popular favorites that are always a hit:
Homemade brownies are also a favorite, however, if you can’t or don’t bake, store-bought treats are still a kind gesture that will be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind, overachievers, not everything you send in has to be Instagram or Pinterest worthy…
Write a Personal Note
When your child comes home excited about a topic, a lesson, or an activity; take a few moments to write a note (even a post-it) and say “thank you for making my child’s day more enjoyable at school; it is greatly appreciated.” This is a big deal to teachers as email/text messages have taken over as normal communication. A good old- fashioned hand written note shows a very high level of appreciation.
Help the Class Celebrate for Special Holidays and Themes
Time is always an issue when a teacher wants to celebrate a special day. Sending in books/food/decorations on these days/weeks will be a huge help to your child’s teacher.
- September: Fall, Apples, Constitution Day, Hispanic Heritage Day, Labor Day, Grandparents Day
- October: Halloween, pumpkins, Columbus, International Day of Peace, Fire Prevention Week, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah,
- November: Thanksgiving, Election, Children’s Book Week, American Indian Heritage and Alaskan Week, Geography Awareness Week
- December: Winter, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Snowman, Santa Claus, Human Rights Day
- January: Winter, snowflakes, Martin Luther King decorations, Inauguration, 100th Day of School, Superbowl Sunday (NFL), World Braille Day
- February: Valentines cards (for kids who can’t afford them or forgot) and decorations, Black History, Groundhogs Day, Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year), Winter Olympic Games, Dental Health, Presidents Day, Mother Tongue Week,
- March- International Women’s Day, National Women’s Month, St. Patrick’s Day, Pi Day, Spring, Literacy Month, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, Purim, World Water Day
- April- April Fool’s Day, Easter, Poetry Month, Passover, Earth Day, World Book Day
- May- Cinco De Mayo, Physical Fitness Month, Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, Memorial Day, Africa Day
- June- D-Day, Flag Day, Father’s Day, Summer, Graduation
Send in a Copy of One of Your Child’s Favorite Books to Share.
Meaningful books are always welcomed to add to the classroom library. Be sure to write a note to the class or the teacher on the inside cover telling them why you love this cherished book.
Buy an Educational Magazine Subscription for the Class or the Teacher.
Younger Students: Ranger Rick Jr., Highlights, National Geographic Little Kids, ZooBooks
Older Students: American Scientist, Scholastic Action, The New York Times Upfront, Popular Science, Discover, Scholastic Math
Offer to Do the Grunt Work
Every teacher could always use help to cut/copy/glue/laminate/sort/file.
Sometimes the best help is the least glamorous. Offering to do paperwork can be a great help so your child’s teacher can focus on the students. You can come to school, or even more appealing, you can have the teacher send it home with your child and you can multi-task while watching Netflix.
Be a Guest Reader in the Class
This idea makes many parents nervous. If so, you can offer to read one-on-one to a student who is above or below grade level to help the teacher differentiate instruction. The teacher can make a suggestion for a read-aloud book that goes along with the thematic unit they are studying if you don’t have your own book. For older grades, pick a chapter book that you can read over the course of the semester. I guarantee the students will really look forward to this!
Bringing in flowers on the first day of school and your teacher’s birthday is a big hit. I learned this tradition while I was teaching in Eastern Europe. How wonderful would it be if the United States and other countries would follow suit?
You can use the list at the beginning of the year for ideas, but generally speaking; Clorox wipes, expo markers, lined paper or notebooks, pencils, and paper clips are always a need. Furthermore, your child’s teacher will be so grateful not to have to spend their hard earned salary on replacing these essential items all year round.
Teacher Appreciation Week
This is the more widely known time to show your child’s teacher some love, so here are great tips for EACH day of this week (remember, it’s not called Teacher Appreciation Day):
Monday-Personalized coffee cup (Include a personal, handwritten thank you note from you as parents and one from your child)
Thursday–Personalized Water Bottle (bonus, fill with individually sized drink mixes like Gatorade or Crystal Light)
Friday– End of the Year Teacher Survival Kit
The parent-teacher relationship is something to begin from the first day of school. Whether your child is 5 or 15, they are spending 185 days in a classroom with a person that needs your care and support, but also needs a smile when things get tough.
“Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted.” Dr. Seuss
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