We asked, and they told us! We polled teachers and ECEs to find out which gifts have stood out for them over the years. The result: this list of thoughtful, useful, and sure-to-be-treasured ideas for your child’s teacher or caregiver.
All teachers loved when parents took the time to remember something unique to the teacher and gave a gift accordingly. For example, one teacher appreciated a frog-shaped bike bell—the parent knew the teacher rode to work, and the bell fit her quirky sense of style.
Homemade (Kid-Made) Crafts
Many teachers appreciated crafts made by children, even if they had an abundance of them already. The time and effort put into these gifts made them special.
Classroom libraries can always use more books. Look for beyond-the-norm books unlikely to be on the shelf already. Something educational, artistic, or a new book just published are good options.
Teachers were divided on edible gifts: Some loved them—one teacher recalled a cocoa lover’s gift package complete with various toppings. But others were less thrilled with baked goods from parents they barely knew or who weren’t aware of an allergy or food sensitivity. The thought was still appreciated, but the gift was not enjoyed.
If you decide to go the food-gift route, packaged goodies are generally a better idea. And if you’re opting for chocolate, a few chocolates from a quality chocolatier are generally better than larger quantities of the cheap stuff.
If you have a good eye and take note of the educator’s style, an accessory like earrings, a scarf, or a tie can be winners. For example, one of our teacher friends has a colleague who likes to entertain the kids by having socks for every occasion!
And teachers have to dress for those school spirit days, too, so consider an item in the school colours or a fun accessory for holidays or popular spirit-day themes.
A gift card always fits. You may think it’s impersonal, but most teachers we asked appreciated gift cards in any amount, no matter how small. Teachers mentioned buying classroom supplies with gifts cards or treating themselves to a book, a night at the movies, or something else they wouldn’t normally buy. Popular choices were Starbucks, Winners, Cineplex, Chapters/Indigo, and pre-paid Visa gift cards.
Make a donation in lieu of a gift to an education-based or child-advocacy non-profit like People for Education, PC CHildren’s Charity, or Youthlink — or to a school-specific fundraiser for field trips or facilities upgrades.
You don’t need to spend money to make a gesture. Hands-down, the teachers we asked said what they treasure most is a thank-you. Write a heartfelt note in a card or on nice stationery to them know how they have made a difference for your child and include a thank-you (or a drawing) from your child as well.