Ask the Teacher

I always struggle to come up with good gift ideas for my children’s teachers at the end of the year. What kinds of presents do teachers enjoy most?

Teachers certainly do not expect to receive end-of-the-year presents, but those gestures of thanks go a long way in helping them feel appreciated. A gift does not have to be extravagant to express your gratitude.

As you select the gift, consider whether the teacher is new or has been teaching for a while. Someone with several years in the profession likely has a cupboard full of “Favorite Teacher” mugs, but someone who is just getting started would probably enjoy receiving a special mug or plaque to decorate her classroom.

Teachers typically incur a great deal of out-of-pocket expenses, so providing something for the classroom will not only show your appreciation, but also can help offset some of those costs. Buy a new game or two for the indoor recess closet, or purchase books for the classroom library.

Gift cards for a coffee splurge, a trip to the book store or lunch at a local restaurant are great ways to say thanks as well. A freezer meal given a week before school is out might also be a very welcomed gift! During such a frantic time, receiving a night off from cooking supper could be a wonderful present.


My first grade daughter has shared several stories about a girl in her class who she considers a friend, but who is often mean to her. Rather than being mad at the girl, my daughter usually explains away the bad behavior. On one hand, I am happy to see her be so forgiving. But I am worried that this approach may lead to my daughter being victimized later on. How do I keep that from happening?

Begin by role-playing some scenarios in which your daughter plays the friend who is sometimes hurtful. You play your daughter. Use some simple yet very direct statements that make it very clear that the mean behavior is not acceptable. (For example, “I do not like it when….”, “I feel sad when…” or “I will be happy to play with you again when…”) Be sure to keep your tone soft but firm. Reverse roles so that your daughter can practice making her feelings known and understood by her friend.

Invite the friend over for a play date. Stay close to the action so that you can hear the specific conversations that take place between the two girls. Don’t hesitate to interject with guidelines about acceptable play at your house.

If the two girls continue to spend a great deal of time together with the same kinds of difficulties surfacing regularly, consider sitting down with the two of them to write out what makes a good friend, using their input. Brainstorm with them about how to treat friends considerately and appropriate ways to apologize when things don’t go well between them.

Should these struggles continue, help your daughter turn her focus to other, kinder children. This does not need to require an overt alienation of the other friend – you can certainly still include her along with others. Perhaps being part of a larger group will help eliminate hurtful comments that come up in a one-on-one situation. As the friend observes the kind interactions between the other girls, her own behavior may be positively influenced.


A student in my son’s class is moving a few weeks before the school year ends. My son and a few of his friends would like to get him some kind of mementobut their funds are limited. Is there something meaningful they could get that wouldn’t cost too much?

Your son’s classmate will certainly be moved by any gesture of friendship his school friends are making. How great that they initiated doing something in recognition of their classmate’s move! Here are several simple ideas that would be meaningful.

Local department stores often carry t-shirts with the school logo on them at a very reasonable price. Have classmates write their names on the back of the t-shirt.

A lightweight fleece blanket can become a great keepsake. An adult can mark off sections of the blanket using a permanent marker, then each of the classmates can write a good-luck message in the blocks.

Even with just a short amount of lead-time, a volunteer can take a picture of the class and then put it in an inexpensive frame. Someone can type the names of the classmates in the order that they appear in the picture and attach it to the back of the frame so that even years from now, the friend will be able to tell who was who in the picture.


Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and InstructionDeb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]


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