By Lexi Walters Wright
Want to thank teachers or specialists for going the extra mile to help your child? Skip the thank-you mug and scented soap! Instead, consider these simple ideas to show you appreciate their dedication and skill.
A handwritten card or letter still goes a long way. Try to be specific about what the teacher or specialist did that was so exceptional for your child. For example, you might write: “Because of the way you took the time to read before school with Amy this year, she’s so much more excited about books now.” You may also want to note how the teacher helped you: “I always felt like you had my back in IEP meetings.”
Encourage your child write or draw her thanks. Use paper or note cards, or try an unexpected canvas: a plain tote bag, for example, or blank cardboard coasters. (Your child can decorate the bag and the coasters with permanent markers.)
Work with other parents to create a custom photo book full of pictures and messages. Consider including the students in your child’s social skills group, for example, or her peers from adapted physical ed. (Just make sure you get parents’ permission to use their child’s photo.)
Give class supplies that teachers tend to run out of each year. Those might include permanent markers, dry-erase pens and pencil grips. You may also want to consider getting your child’s teacher a set of monogrammed pencils. Supplies are less likely to disappear from a teacher’s classroom if they are clearly marked with her name or initials.
Does your child’s teacher love to garden? Give her a new pair of gardening gloves with some seed packets tucked inside. Is your child’s reading specialist a dog lover? Her pooch will appreciate a new Frisbee or chew toy. These kinds of gifts show you care about these people as much as they care about your child.
Go in with another parent or two to buy a gift certificate for a soothing massage or a pedicure. Get a gift card for a movie theater or bookstore. Another nice option is to give your child’s teacher a membership card for a local museum.
Bring in a pan of your famous lasagna with instructions on how to reheat or freeze. Or deliver breakfast to the classroom when you drop your child off in the morning. (You just need to know of any food allergies or restrictions beforehand.) Or purchase a gift certificate for a local restaurant, café or drive-through.
A gift card for stores like Whole Foods or Target can buy essentials (groceries, toiletries, home items) as well as goodies (cheese, wine, sweet treats). Another option is an online retailer like Amazon. Teachers can choose from digital music, books and lots of other items.
Find out if your child’s school has rules that prevent teachers from accepting gifts over a certain value. That goes for group gifts, too. But the rules might not apply to items donated for the classroom, such as new books or materials. Check with your board of education or state ethics commission for teacher gift regulations.
Schools offer a range of services to support students with learning and attention issues. Supports can take the form of people, places, things and actions. Use these questions to make the teacher an ally in getting help for your child.
Most teachers expect and welcome communication via email. But you should be careful about what you say and how you say it in the email.
Lexi Walters Wright is veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.
Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.
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