It’s the most wonderful time of the year… time for Christmas lights, winter hats and holiday shopping. But what should you get for the toughest person on your list — your child’s classroom teacher? Many parents send their children in to school with gifts of fruit baskets, ornaments and other fairly useless trinkets. If teachers could write out Christmas lists to the parents of their students, what would they ask for? Here are five useful gift ideas that will keep teachers smiling long after the holidays are over.
1. Age-appropriate books for the classroom library. Many teachers use their own money to keep their classroom libraries well-stocked with books for book reports and free reading time. Take your child to your local bookstore or Barnes & Noble and let him or her pick out several books to give to the teacher and one to take home. You can even place customized bookplates inside the front cover to ensure that your generous gift will be remembered and appreciated for years to come.
2. School supplies: dry-erase markers, pencils, pens, markers, etc. You’d be amazed at how quickly those dry-erase markers dry up! Supply closets at many schools are not well-stocked and teachers often have trouble hunting down the tools that they need for a functional classroom. Make a quick stop at Staples or Office Depot and pick up some of the essentials to make a colorful, much-needed gift basket of school supplies.
3. Gently-used or new winter clothing. Even in the most affluent communities, there are students who don’t have a warm coat or pair of boots to wear to school in the winter. Round up the items your kids have outgrown or stop by Target to pick up some cute new gear for a child in need. Pass these items on to your child’s classroom teacher, and she’ll make sure that they will be put to good use keeping your kid’s friends and classmates warm.
4. Personal hygiene products. Everyone knows that classrooms are the perfect breeding ground for germs, especially during winter when kids’ immune systems are already compromised and they’re cooped up inside for much of the day. A classroom stockpile of tissues and hand sanitizer will go a long way toward keeping classroom sniffles to a minimum during cold and flu season.
5. Your time and expertise. With so many school districts facing budget cuts, teachers often lose their aides and don’t get the kind of classroom support that they need. Volunteer to help out in the classroom once a week or once a month — however often you can. Chaperone field trips, coordinate holiday parties, or just help wrangle a reading group. If you have some sort of expertise that fits into your child’s curriculum, volunteer to come in for an hour or two to speak to the class and impart some of your knowledge. Teachers are always looking for ways to expose kids to new ideas, and your child will be thrilled to see you up front leading the class.
Photo Credit: Sheila Scarborough