5 Ways to Thank Your Child's Teacher

Last Updated Jun 21, 2011 2:58 PM EDT

As the parent representative for my daughter's preschool class, one of my duties is to organize a group teacher appreciation gift. So a couple of weeks ago I sent out an email to the other families to gauge how much support I could drum up to thank the lovely women who so lovingly care for our toddlers. Much to my surprise, only a few were interested in participating. Was I wrong to ask folks to go in on a collective present? I called an etiquette expert to find out.

Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D, a director at The Emily Post Institute, believes it is appropriate for parents to thank their children's preschool and elementary school teachers at the end of the year. Families can either take part in a group effort or act on their own. But the main thing you want to remember is that the gift should be a token of your appreciation and not a supplement to income. In other words, don't think of this as a tip. The present should be inexpensive and accompanied by a thoughtful card.

It is also important to make sure you give the gift after the student evaluations and report cards are give out. And do check with the principal or director to see if there are any rules regarding gifts. Many elementary schools restrict how much the parents can spend.

Wondering what the most appropriate gifts are? Here are some ideas from Senning:

1. Gift Cards: Picking up a gift card for a book store or local coffee shop is always a great way to thank your child's teacher. Senning recommends keeping the amount to under $40 or $50.

2. Coffee Table Books: Another classic gift is a coffee table book. Just make sure to try and find one that matches the teacher's interests. Or, if the instructor is new to the area, you can always find one about your region of the country, says Senning.

3. Picture Frames: Who can't use another picture frame? To personalize this present, include a photo of your child and his teacher before you wrap it up.

4. Bowls: A bowl is another practical gift that can feel special if you fill it with cookies or muffins that your child helps bake.

5. Gift Baskets: If you aren't much of a baker, consider ordering a fruit or gourmet food basket.

As for group gifts, if you receive an email from someone like me and wish to participate, just give whatever small dollar amount you feel comfortable contributing. If money is a bit tight, just sign the card. A good class representative will make sure to keep the amount everyone donates a secret.

How will you thank your child's teacher this June?

Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Teacher Appreciation Week image courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.0.
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