Don't think back to school time is stressful enough, what with trying to find those fine point pens (because really, is it so bad to have medium point) and coming thisclose to a brawl over the last pink plastic folder on the store shelves? Enter teacher gifts for the first day of school.
Never heard of 'em? Me neither. I just stumbled on this whole new way to feel inadequate as a parent this week, and it set my teeth on edge.
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Face it: you WANT the kid's teacher to like you. It's just easier for everyone that way. But there's being accommodating ... and then there is being a brown noser.
Buying the teacher gifts for the first day back? That's a trick straight out of the suck up playbook.
And it's completely unnecessary. There are ways to make the teacher like you from the get-go ... without making the other classroom parents hate you. I hit up my teacher friends for tips!
1. Buy the darn school supplies. Yes, it's expensive, and you can whine about it (I do! I do!), but government monies are tight, and if you don't buy 'em, that means the teacher is probably going to have to get the money out of her own wallet to pay for them. Not the best way to start the year.
2. Send extra supplies. This isn't necessary, but if you find a great deal on anti-bacterial wipes or pencils, it doesn't hurt to throw a few extras in the bag. At the very least, you won't get a letter home in December that says your kid has run through the supply already.
3. Supply your contact information. Several teachers said they appreciate a simple card from parents that lists the best way to reach them, especially their email address. As one third grade teacher noted, "It is important to become partners in the child's education, and that is a great first step."
4. Offer to help. Not every parent can volunteer in the classroom, but there are myriad ways to help out. Spell out your availability -- in writing -- and make a solid offer to the teacher. Can you send in fruit for holiday parties? Can you show up once a week? Once a month? Whatever it is, let her/him know in detail what you can do, and then, whatever you do, don't FLAKE.
5. Introduce yourself. It's not always possible to drive your kids to school on the first day, but if you can, it's worth it! Simply having a face to put with the name and showing the initiative to walk your kids into the classroom and shake a teacher's hand makes such a good impression. Do remember it's the first day, and the teacher is a bit frazzled, so she/he won't have much time to talk. But this is a good time to hand over that contact information card, letter offering help, any extra supplies, etc.
Still think you NEED to send a gift? One third grade teacher admitted that cookies NEVER get turned away from her classroom!
What do you do for the teacher on the first day of school?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr