Why you shouldn’t buy your child’s teacher a thank you present.

It’s probably too late by now but if you have small child at school you may well have bought the teacher (and the teaching assistant) a present to thank them for the time and energy they have expended teaching your child. It is a lovely thought and the reasons to do this are many but so are the reasons not to.

Here is my list of why you should not buy your child’s teacher a present.

Cost

Times are hard. Life is expensive enough with out the expectation that you have to buy your child’s teacher a present. If you have more than one child in different classes? Two or three presents. Individually, it may not be a huge outgoing but add it up over time and it could easily get expensive. Teachers are doing their job and it’s what they are paid for. It is not fair that an additional financial expectation is placed upon parents.

“Somehow we must be able to afford a ‘Best Teacher Ever’ branded keyring.
What if we don’t buy any food this week?”

Expectation

I think some parents get a bit competitive with what they get their child’s teacher which can put some parents in a really awkward position.  If all the other parents are getting big presents for the teacher, are you going to want to be the only one who doesn’t? No, so you spend money getting something big as well. That is not a fair expectation.

“This present for Little Johnny’s teacher? Oh no, it’s just something I picked up from Aldi. What did you get?”

Appropriateness

“For data protection reasons, we must keep these documents in this special filing cabinet.”

At one school we had to declare any end of term gifts from parents, presumably to offset any suggestion of children getting preferential treatment (although I’m sure that the lists we wrote went in the special filing cabinet labelled B.I.N.). While most of the gifts were things like bottle of wine, mug and pen, biscuits, it did feel inappropriate to be given money. Especially in one case when it was a solitary £5 note. That just made me feel like a small boy on his 10th birthday.

A caveat being, a teacher I know who works in a very posh school – who has taught the children of celebrities and minor royalty – was once given £200 in crisp £50 notes and a scarf by a parent. The teacher also got invited to the celebrity (who you have heard of)’s Christmas party at her house, where the children had their very own floor! In that case, where the parent appears to have slightly more money than sense, don’t worry too much about accepting their cash.

If you must give a teacher a financial gift, this is one of those times that a voucher (even if it is a £5 voucher), is more suitable.

Tat

I will be honest, a large percentage of the presents you get from parents are tat. While the biscuits and wine will be appreciated for the short duration before, during and after consumption (although I always seemed to get red wine, which I can’t stand), anything you’re thinking of getting with ‘Worlds Best Teacher’ printed on will ultimately find its way to the bin and the teacher will have to say thank you through a pained demonstration of appreciation.

One family, bless them, got me a sealed certificate saying ‘Best Teacher Award’, which didn’t stay in my possession for a long time. Similarly I’ve had numerous ‘Best Teacher Ever’ mugs, pens, pads, keyrings and pencils. The sentiment is lovely, but I will be the first to admit, I am not the best teacher ever. If I had used any of those things, I’d be nothing but a fraud.

“Thank you for your year of 60-70 hour weeks, pointless box ticking, relentless observation and mental exhaustion.”

The problem with things like that is that they’re not personal, they don’t remind you of the child and they don’t demonstrate why the child thinks you’re the best teacher ever.

So what should you do if you want to say thank you to your child’s teacher?

Let me be straight, as Scrooge-like as I sound today, getting you child’s teacher a present to say thank you is a lovely thing and your teacher will appreciate the sentiment and like the fact that their hard work has been recognised. However, if you want both the present and the child to be remembered, make that present something personal. It doesn’t have to be anything special or expensive, just personal.

Me and TricycleOne of the nicest things I got was a lump of clay that a girl from my class painted. It sort of resembled an ashtray and eventually fell to pieces but I loved it. I still have drawings that my first class made me on my wall. The drawing of me that I use as my ‘gravatar’? Done by a child in my first class.

And if you, as a grown up, really want to let your child’s teacher know that they have made a difference, write a note saying so. That’s worth much more than a £2.50 keyring saying ‘Worlds Greatest Teacher.’

Out of these presents, guess which one was the most appreciated and valued.
Out of these presents, guess which one was the most appreciated and valued.