K-State instructors discuss appropriate gifts for teachers
By Amber Haag
When it comes to your child's teacher, giving gifts that are simple and from the heart may be the most appreciated and appropriate, according to two elementary education experts at Kansas State University.
Diane DeNoon, instructor of elementary education at K-State, taught at the elementary level for 32 years. She said she often received gifts at holidays and the end of the year but that the best gifts came every day.
"There are students whose gifts could be as simple as saying, 'I really like you. You are an awesome teacher,'" DeNoon said. "Those gifts are probably the most memorable ones and usually start at the beginning of the year."
DeNoon said she thinks children usually give their teachers gifts when they have built a good relationship with them.
Laurie Curtis, instructor of elementary education at K-State, agrees. She taught preschool, kindergarten and first and second grades for 17 years.
"Teachers don't expect gifts from their students," Curtis said. "It is always a surprise, and children and their parents should not feel like they have to give teachers gifts. It's usually in appreciation for the extra mile a teacher has gone with their kids."
Curtis also said she most appreciated the personalized gifts her students gave her over the years.
"The best ones are personalized items, such as letters, cards, scrapbooks and framed pictures of the child. Those meant more to me than any other thing," Curtis said. "Other gifts that are really nice are gift certificates to teacher supply stores or book stores or gifts that can be used for the whole class, such as a book. Because we spend so much of our own money on the classroom, it's nice to have a gift you can use for the class."
Although neither DeNoon nor Curtis said they have ever received an inappropriate gift from a child or parent, Curtis said there are some things parents should remember when their children want to give gifts.
"First of all, a parent should check the school's gift policy because some schools do not allow parents and students to give gifts to teachers," Curtis said. "This is a way to keep children who can't give gifts from feeling left out.
"Also, parents should make sure their children understand the teacher may not open the gift in front of the class," Curtis said. "I didn't because I didn't want to make the children who didn't bring gifts feel bad or feel like they should have brought me something. I never expected a gift.
"The child should also actually be involved in the process of getting the gift," Curtis said. "The child should have some input into the gift. Sometimes I've gotten gifts and the child wanted me to open it so they could see what it was."
DeNoon and Curtis agree that receiving gifts from students, especially personal gifts such a letters and cards, has meant more than anything else to them as teachers. Although a gift is never expected, they said, parents and children can make a special teacher feel appreciated with a thoughtful gift.