Should kids give gifts to teachers? As we approach the holiday season, it’s a time when some school districts remind teachers and families that gifts are off limits. Despite this type of board policy, many kids (and staff) exchange gifts informally. Some teacher’s desks are laden with goodies. Parents may drop off presents personally or give them to their kids to distribute. As someone who loves to give and receive gifts in other settings, I have been concerned about issues of gift-giving equity in a school environment. Not all families celebrate Christmas, can afford to give gifts, or even thinks it’s appropriate. Overall, I know teachers are increasingly aware of the diversity of the communities they teach. I do remember years past when teachers carefully opened every present in front of the class, hugging those who brought gifts. Even a casual observer could tell that by the quantity of gifts that not everyone in the room was getting a hug. I am REALLY opposed to that sort of nonsense.
On the other hand, for people who do celebrate Christmas and love gift giving, I think that there are inexpensive or personal ways of sharing their affection for teachers and staff. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep it private. Place the gift in the teacher’s mailbox if you can’t share the gift privately.
- Keep it personal. Consider photos of students, handmade cards, or something that reminds the teacher of that wonderful student. One special family gave me a hand-painted wooden box with words and phrases (written by the student) of the many fun things we had done at school. I’ll always treasure that! I regularly use a bookmark made from a student photo.
- Keep it inexpensive. I know from personal experience that even homemade baked goods can be costly (but a part of the expense and value for me is taking the time to make that gift).
- Consider a donation to a favorite charity in the teacher’s name.
Bottom line: Follow your heart and be sensitive of others.