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Starting Kindergarten

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StartingFreshNow posted 7/28/2014 12:18 PM

Hi everyone!

My first child is about to start kindergarten in 4 weeks. I am completely panicked and excited about it.

I want to make sure I do it "right" - is it customary to give a gift to the teacher at the start of the school year? If so, any advice on ideas? I know pinterst probably has 10,000 but for those that have been there, done that - or for any teachers out there, what are some of the best/favorite ideas? If a gift card is suggested, how much do you put on it?

Thanks :)

suckstobeme posted 7/28/2014 13:06 PM

I feel like a crappy mom - I never got my kids' teachers a gift on the first day. In our area, I don't think that's customary. We give the teachers and bus drivers Christmas gifts - usually a cute ornament or gift card or a hot chocolate mix with a pretty mug. Some of the kids give gifts at the end of the year as well. Again, I'm probably a crappy mom, but with all the flurry that occurs at the end of the year with concerts and field trips and assemblies and field days, and then trying to figure out which kid goes where for the summer, I don't have time to get the teacher another gift.

I don't think doing it "right" necessarily means getting gifts. I would be interested to see what the SI teachers think about it, but I would bet that the gifts or lack thereof that are given throughout the year don't really help them form an opinion about the kid or the kids' parents.

I think doing it "right" means making sure the kids have what they need when they need it. Making sure you regularly go through the bags and the paperwork to help them learn to be on top of what needs to get done. Trying your best, taking work schedules and other responsibilities at home into account, to be involved with the little parties or the fund raisers or volunteering for a field trip. And, communicating with the teacher regarding any issues or problems that you are seeing at home, as well as any issues that the teacher is seeing in the classroom.

You're going to be great and it's a great time for your little one. Don't overthink it - just enjoy!

StartingFreshNow posted 7/28/2014 13:32 PM

I definitely have all intentions of being involved with the classroom, definitely helping with school work, ensuring assignments are done on time and things like that. The gift would be more a token of appreciation for the person that would be with my son for the next year.

You're not a crappy mom for not doing gifts - I just don't know what's customary and I'm sure it varies from place to place.

I think I'm just in that nervous/excited phase so my mind goes 100 miles a minute thinking of every scenario. Though it's a good distraction from my R problems :)

GabyBaby posted 7/28/2014 13:35 PM

I didn't do gifts at the beginning of the year, but I did do year end gifts.

I was always very active in my kids' classrooms, so their teachers (and many of the parents) knew me on a first name basis.

Give teacher your email/phone contact info and let her know (repeatedly) that you're available. She/he will likely take you up on it!

StartingFreshNow posted 7/28/2014 13:42 PM

Thanks, I'll be sure to do that!

musiclovingmom posted 7/28/2014 14:01 PM

As a teacher, I never received a beginning of the year gift.

As a parent, I send a Christmas gift and a gift during teacher appreciation week. For Christmas this last year, I did candles and a little bit of good quality chocolate. For teacher appreciation, a potted flower that could be transplanted into flower garden. I always try to steer clear of coffee cups because I got sooooooooo many when I was teaching.

Also, My child attends a small school - 24 staff and less than 180 students. I try to do something for the entire staff a couple of times a year. I made fresh cinnamon rolls once, brought in cookies a couple of times, put paper flowers on pencils and brought every teacher a 'bouquet'. And definitely offer your help whenever you can.
A snack or cup of coffee on conference day is always a nice treat since those days tend to be longer than normal days (many times 12+ hours).

Lionne posted 7/28/2014 14:02 PM

Gifts aren't necessary. But school supplies are always appreciated. Teachers spend a fortune of their own money on things like stickers, markers, small rewards, classrooms books, etc. Gift certificates to bookstores are helpful.

Making sure your child has necessary supplies is great! Also, things like hand sanitizer, tissues that aren't sandpaper (school issued boxes are awful!) and other similar things that all the kids can use are useful.

Teachers have mugs to spare. I never took count but I think I got at least three a year. Times 37 years...I still cherish ornaments with my students' names on them. And homemade goodies! The best!

Thanks for offering to help. Even parents who don't have free time to help during school hours often would give a few hours during the school year to cut out shapes or do preparation for an activity at home. That was golden!

Have a fun year! K and first graders are the best!

StartingFreshNow posted 7/28/2014 14:22 PM

Thank you so much - you have some great ideas there I can do in addition to volunteering. It's also nice to know a start of year gift isn't customary :)

jrc1963 posted 7/28/2014 14:38 PM

I must teach in the wrong school/place? I never get gifts from my kids/parents... nothing, nada, zip, zilch...

And... none of my kids ever have their own school supplies either.

Anything that they have to use in my class; pencils, notebooks, paper, scissors, hand sanitizer, kleenex... I have to supply myself, out of my own pocket.

That being said, I'm ok with not getting stuff... I don't need baked goods, I'm fat enough as it is... I don't need coffee mugs and I'm Jewish so Christmas Ornaments would be a big no-no for me.

And parents in the classroom can be as much a hinderance as a help...

I'd really love it if my students parents would spend their time and money on the actual student... you know, help them with homework, read to them, enforce rules and discipline, turn off the television, game system, computer just once...

So.... To sum up... No, I wouldn't get a start of the year gift for your new kindergartners teacher.

StartingFreshNow posted 7/28/2014 14:41 PM

I'm sorry your parents don't show you more appreciation :( Teachers are amazing people IMO and deserve to be thanked for what they do. Then again I have friends and relatives that are teachers so I see the work they put in outside of the classroom.

With our schools we have to provide school supplies to a point but I was also aware teachers have to provide a lot of things out of their own pockets so I'll definitely remember to consider that for gifts in the future.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 7/28/2014 15:00 PM

My kids elementary teachers always had a prize box. They fill those on their own. So I would save stuff like McDonalds prizes, cereal box toys, etc and donate them. Stuff like that is appreciated throughout the year.

Audrina posted 7/28/2014 17:21 PM

Never received a start of the year gift and don't expect one.

I have received gifts for Christmas and sometimes at the end of the year. I especially love when I get a nice bottle of wine at xmas.

Chrysalis123 posted 7/28/2014 22:16 PM

I am a kindergarten teacher.

I never received a first day gift.

I am vey aware and sensitive to the needs of parents sending away their first born to kinder. It is a big transition and very hard and emotional for some of them.

You know what I like? A surprise coffee or preferred drink out of the blue. That makes my day.

I also had one parent ask me what she could purchase for the class that would help. That was considerate and very useful.

[This message edited by Chrysalis123 at 10:17 PM, July 28th (Monday)]

Mack9512 posted 7/30/2014 12:38 PM

Welcome to being an elementary school Mom! We are all crazy but we have a lot of fun.

We also don't do first day of school gifts, however my DD8's kindergarten teacher was in her first year of teaching so I gave her a Staples giftcard so that she wouldn't get sticker shock from the cost of buying her own supplies. Teacher Appreciation day, Christmas and end-of-year presents are good but not a must. Last year by DD gave her 2nd grade teacher a mason jar filled with M&Ms (the teacher's favorite), along with the M&M poem. Christmas was another giftcard, but one for personal use and the end of the year the entire class got together and got her a "spa package".

My DD doesn't ride a bus but, for Christmas, we did give the crossing guard a Starbucks giftcard one year, last year was a hand designed mug with packet of my DD's favorite hot chocolate.

Lalagirl posted 7/30/2014 13:11 PM

No suggestion on the gifts, but wanted to congratulate you, and of course your little one, on starting Kindergarten!!

My grandson starts August 19...4 days after his new baby sister will be born.

hathnofury posted 7/30/2014 13:52 PM

My youngest just finished kindergarten. This is what I do:

I email the teacher with my contact info before school starts, ask him/her if he/she needs any help setting up the classroom or if there are specific supplies I could collect and contribute to the classroom. I have gotten taken up on the offer to help set up once, and supplies twice. It varies greatly with the school demographics and the individual teacher.

Last year I dropped off a big batch of pumpkin muffins I make with the kids the first day the teachers have to report back, before school opens, at the office for the teachers and staff. Of course I had three kids in the same school so it makes sense for me to try to do something for the whole staff, LOL. If you don't bake, coffee, donuts, bagels could work.

I have not given gifts on the first day of school. I have never heard of that, and I imagine in might be a bit overwhelming for the teacher to deal with that on the first day on top of everything else. If it is the culture there to do so, I would just do a gift card at an office or teacher supply, or maybe Starbucks. Otherwise I would wait to do such a gift on another day.

tushnurse posted 7/30/2014 14:36 PM

A present for the first day of school??? Really???
Um no. The present comes at Christmas, and the end of the year, and that's if they have done a super job, and/or tolerated the crazy shenanigans of your child for the year. With my first kiddo that was a real issue. He and his two best buddies lead to an early retirement for his KG teacher..... no really it did.

Personally, I always offered on open house night to be a room parent, and a helper when the kids were little. The Elementary school was just up the road from the house, and I still got many days off due to working weekends. The teachers esp in the younger grades love parent helpers that actually come in and help. Teacher friends tell me that is worth a heck of a lot more than a coffee cup/starbucks card/or other gift.

RippedSoul posted 7/31/2014 08:35 AM

Most teachers love books! If your school hosts a book fair, you could see if she/he has requested any books. Or buy a gift certificate to a book store. And always GC for school supply stores. Beginning-of-the-year "gift" is just semantics. I never bought a "gift" but always spent a fortune on the supplies teachers requested. :)

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