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Moms Talk: What is Appropriate for End-of-Year Teacher Gifts?

Do you believe in more lavish rewards for your child's hard-working teacher? Or is this tradition ripe for abuse?

That nervous frenetic energy your children are putting off is a sure sign of what is to come: the last day of school.

That day, dedicated to the pursuit of freedom, often is also filled with goodbyes, thank yous, and the recognition of what students and the teachers that have guided them have accomplished.

But how do you recognize the dedication of a teacher? A gift? a note? Is it as simple as some baked treats, or as lavish as high-priced gift cards?

Is the bright smile of a child moving on to the next grade all the reward a teacher needs to feel their work has been recognized?

While teacher gifts are a regular part of the last day tradition, it is by no means uniform. Some districts are limited by , while others limit the dollar value themselves to avoid ethical dilemmas or political jockeying.

What do you think is appropriate for a teacher’s gift? What have you given in the past and why?

Our five-member Moms Council — including, , and —is ready to weigh in on the discussion this week and encourage you to share your thoughts as well.

Post your thoughts, advice or questions in the comments section below. Also, if you live in the area and are interested in joining our Moms Council, e-mail Editor David Henke at david.henke@patch.com.

Jodi Saari May 23, 2011 at 06:52 PM
My girls attend a daycare center, and we love all of the teachers. So we actively participated in "Teacher Appreciation Week." They make it easy by having days where each child brings their teacher a flower so that the teachers collect a varied bouquet. Or we could sign up to bring in something for a potluck lunch. Right now, the year never ends so we don't have to worry about end of school year gifts. I like the simple things though, and not necessarily at the end of the year. We gave flowers to my daughter's teacher on her birthday. The girls will draw pictures for their teacher, etc. I think a thoughtful gift can way outway a more expensive gift. And it's nice to show a teacher you appreciate them at all times of the year, not just when you think you have to.
Dyane Garvey May 25, 2011 at 07:59 PM
We've always given holiday gifts but not end of the year gifts. With my daughter graduating from primary school in three weeks, I'll have her write a personal letter to the teachers she's had and specific staff who've made a difference in her life. I suppose if you feel inclined to give an end-of-the-year gift, I suggest a gift certificate or gift card, especially if there is a classroom pet. It's usually a very busy time of year. Once the kids are out of the school for the summer, they have a very short period of time to close the classroom so they may appreciate a cup of coffee or lunch at a nearby eatery.
Kathee May 26, 2011 at 01:21 AM
In the past I have given a small gift card and a note telling them how much I have appreciated them being in my childrens lives. The last couple years I have not been able to afford the gift card, but I do tell them how much I enjoy them and their time. I know our school has a cap of $20.00 that can be accepted from a parent. So if anyone wants to give a gift, make sure to find out the schools "gifting" limits.
Sarah Herschbach May 27, 2011 at 01:08 PM
I would love to hear teachers comments on this! When my oldest child started elementary school and I started meeting other parents I was astounded at the staggering dollar amounts they were spending on end of year gifts. Suddenly I felt guilty for giving my measly Michaels gift card or pot of flowers. Although I have always given a well thought out gift, I have never spend over $20 on a teacher gift. Although in no way does it reflect the appreciation I have for their dedication throughout the year! I would give $100 if I could, and some teachers are so amazing they are simply priceless....

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