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Should Teachers Get Back-to-School Presents?

Rebecca Eckler September 6, 2016
Should Teachers Get Back-to-School Presents

It’s my son’s first day of Junior Kindergarten and I already feel like a failure as a parent.

No, I didn’t forget to pack snacks, or forget, um, to send him in clothes.

But there seems to be a trend nowadays of buying your children’s teacher’s gifts…on the first day of school.

Scrolling down my Facebook feed, I couldn’t believe the number of parent’s sending gifts with their children to give to their teachers on the first day of school. The gifts ranged from flowers, to cool water bottles, to, yes, even gift baskets! I’m not judging here. While I don’t try and keep up with the Joneses, I really had no idea this was a thing that parents did. Now I’m left wondering if the teacher hates me already!

Presents before the holidays? Absolutely! Presents at the end of the school year? Absolutely! I have given pregnant teachers, about to take maternity leave, a gift for their soon-to-be-baby, not only because it’s a nice thing to do, but these teacher’s usually miss either the holiday present or the end-of-school-year present.

So why are mothers now buying presents for teachers on Day One?

Did I fall asleep under a rock for the last couple of years and missed whatever memo is going around the parenting world about sending your child to school, not only with lunch, snacks, and extra clothes, but a present for the teachers too?

Depending on your sensibilities, First Day Teacher Presents are either a very thoughtful gesture, or could also be looked upon like, ‘Oh, yes. They’ll remember MY child because, after all, I brought them a box of chocolates…on the first day! They’re going to love my kids all year long! WOOT!’

To be fair, I also didn’t know that in some cultures, bringing flowers to teachers on a first day is a tradition. One post on Facebook showed two gorgeous children, each holding flowers, for their respective children’s teachers. Their father is Russian and as the mother explained to me, ‘On the first day of school, they would always bring flowers for the teachers. All the kids in the school would bring flowers, whether it was wild flowers from the forest or garden…it didn’t necessarily need to be purchased from a store.’ This mother loves the tradition that means a lot to her husband (and, actually, so do I.)

As this mother explained it to me, ‘It’s such a lovely little way to say thanks for all they do.’

Fair enough, and yes, I believe that teachers rarely get the humongous ‘thanks you’s!’ they deserve, not just at the holidays or end of the year, but anytime.

But, cultural traditions aside, how did other mother’s know, or even have it in their brains, to buy a gift for a teacher on the first day?

Is it a good or bad thing to send gifts to teachers on the first day? One mother, who sent her kids to school with a note and gift certificate to Starbucks, told me that she did it (for the first time this year) so her children could learn respect and appreciation for teachers, while hoping to set a happy tone for the rest of the year.

As it turns out, I have sort of been in a coma. After searching ‘Back to School Gifts for Teachers’, hundreds upon hundreds of ideas popped up, including lip balms, gift cards, relaxing candles, cute paper and pen sets, journals, and on and on.

My favourite? Homemade cards telling teachers how much they look forward to learning and being in their class. The thought, which is such a nice thought, especially for the people who will be spending the majority of the day with your children, is a sweet gesture that may also help your children get mentally prepared for school.

I can’t imagine teachers NOT being thrilled to receive gifts on the first day of school. After all, who doesn’t like to be appreciated? Am I the only one who didn’t think about this at all, because I was too busy getting back-to-school shoes and back-to-school haircuts and back-to-school orthodontist appointments? Did you know this was a ‘thing’?

Back-to-school gifts for teachers: A good trend? A little sucky-uppy? What are your thoughts?

Is there something a trend called ‘Second Day Back to School Gift?’

I could possibly manage that.

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