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How Parents Can Show Gratitude for Their Child’s Educator Every Day

Showing our appreciation of teachers.

Sam’s parents were discussing an end-of-COVID-year appreciation gift for his teacher at the family dinner.

Dad: “She’s been terrific for Sam, helping him manage his shyness without singling him out; not to mention her mediation skills in his squabbles with Maisy.”

Mom: “She is so tolerant of his out-of-the-blue Disney soundtrack renditions, and I know they can be annoying. That woman is so patient.”

Listening intently, Sam asked what a ‘preciation’ was, got clarification, and after a moment’s reflection asked, “Can’t we ‘preciate’ my teacher every day?”

Sam’s grandmother, a former preschool teacher, chimed in: “Absolutely, Sam. Every day works just fine for teachers. Your mom and dad should write down those things they just said in a hand-written note. Those details are like little mini presents.”

Despite a subtle eye roll from her son-in-law, she kept going.

“Being a preschool teacher can be its own reward. I spent time watching those children discover the world more than their parents usually did. To be there when they figure something out for the first time and watch them own it is a privilege. Kids that age are incredibly entertaining and brutally honest. I didn’t need notes or presents to feel appreciated, but I never turned them down.”

Sam was inspired by his family’s ‘preciation’ of his beloved teacher and suggested that he get a big sheet of drawing paper and everyone could draw a picture of him doing something with her. For good measure, he also included a dad-recorded video of his belting out a few Disney soundtrack samples, “because my teacher loves when I do that.”

Here are some valued goods and services that can help parents show their appreciation for their child’s teachers any day of the year:

  1. Volunteer to help in the classroom. Teachers never have quite enough help, and they love getting to know you on their turf, and vice versa.
  2. Gift a spa-like treatment such as a pedicure or manicure. Teachers may feel it is too self-indulgent to pay for a treatment themselves. They work hard and deserve to feel pampered.
  3. Pool cash contributions with other parents and go for a bigger-ticket item. Teachers deeply appreciate the logistics this requires. Don’t be surprised, however, if he or she spends it on school supplies.
  4. Get a gift card to such retailers as Target or Amazon. Gift cards may seem short on creativity or imagination, but the convenience of saving time for teachers – especially those who are parents themselves – is hard to beat.
  5. Write a personal and meaningful note. My own mother, also a teacher, would show me an occasional hand-written note from a parent or child who had touched her so deeply it became a ‘treasure.’ She would save her favorites in a drawer and thumb through them periodically, especially at the end of the year or a particularly hard day. On one such occasion, I heard her tell my father, “I teach for this, not the money.”
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