Monday, 16 July 2012

Presents for teachers - salt dough or Swarovski??

I have a rather sore neck from packing gift bags. 30 gift bags for the children in the class I teach once a week. I hope they like them - its probably not what they imagine in their wildest dreams, but I wanted to get them a token of my affection after the year we have spent toether.

I tend to try and make something for the children - gingerbread glittery Christmas trees for Christmas, shredded wheat Easter egg nests at ... Easter and last Summer I watercoloured portraits on book marks which I laminated.

Apologies for the awful photo.

I don't spend lots of money on these things, but I do take time and care. It made my day today to see one of last year's boys using the bookmark I made him a year on.

I am so fortunate each year that children and parents give me gifts too. Part of me feels very embarrassed to receive them, after all - how many people are given gifts for just doing their job? Another part of me, and this is the larger part, feels very grateful and incredibly touched that people take the time and effort to think of me and give me a gift. I am not the teacher after all, but the T.A and although I think I do a decent job I am definitely the oily rag as opposed to the mechanic!!

I certainly don't expect it and am usually pretty gobsmacked to be given anything. I feel bad that parents these days sometimes feel that they have to give. Its certainly not the case for me and I would rather people didn't spend money on gifts - although who would say its not lovely to receive them?

To be honest I appreciate the small things more than the extravagant. I am so touched to be given a hand made card by a child, a Christmas decoration made from salt dough - something that will always remind me of that particular child. Something that I know they have spent time on for me. I have a special box filled with cards and drawings from over the years and I could tell you who gave me every little ornament or picture.

I know some people get quite cross at the thought that they are expected to give presents to teachers and teaching assistants. I would feel cross too if I felt it was expected. I would hate anyone to feel that way and my advice to any parent would be that you shouldn't feel that way. No teacher or T.A I work with expects anything. Why should we be bought gifts or vouchers?

I remember feeling quite stressed out when my boys were little. I had no money and coming up to Christmas the last thing I needed was to have to fork out for yet more presents. Some of the mums in the playground who obviously had more money than me seemed to think that putting £5 in the collection was reasonable. For me it was a point of extreme embarrassment as I couldn't afford it. I remember instead making a box which my son decorated and which I filled with homemade chocolates. I so wanted to show my appreciation for my sons' teachers and teaching assistants and I think that my gift ended up meaning a lot more than a fiver thrown in a collection.

Of course I might be wrong! It may well be that they preferred the John Lewis vouchers!! But I was always brought up to believe that its the thought and care that counts - not how much something cost.

Please don't feel you have to buy presents for school staff. Its a really lovely thing to do, but you will not be thought of badly if you don't. There should be no pressure. 


Mumofthreeboys said...

Aaw I wish you was a TA in my boys school. As a parent I want to buy presents for the teachers and the assistants but with 2 children in school it ends up costing a small fortune so this year we will be making star biscuits and writing messages on them, a personal touch. I am always telling my children that a homemade present and card mean so much more than a bought one. X

Natasha said...

Hi that's very sweet. I do get the teacher and the TA something but it is normally home made and not expensive. Last year hte kids gave a pot with a sunflower that they had grown from seed and hand made cards. The head teacher left this year and my husband carved out his name in wood - he was chuffed with it and will take pride of place in his new office. I'm making cupcakes this year and got lovely boxes for them and bags. Some people do a collection with a recommended donation of £5/£10! This is what it says on the slip - i though a donation meant you decide. I always opt out of that as think its impersonal but I do try not to give tat! great post x

Inkling said...

I think your gift ideas for your kids are lovely. Growing up, we didn't have any money to buy gifts either. My mom would make fudge, and we'd wrap it in wax paper and put it in a tin. I had so much fun giving those to my teachers every year. One of my favorite gifts from a former student was a packet of forget-me-not seeds in a tiny little pot and one of her school pictures. Meaningful and sweet. Then there was the boy who collected all his pennies and gave them to me because he knew I didn't make much money. I'm not sure how he knew, but that little ziploc bag of pennies will be remembered a long time. He's also the same little boy who invited his single uncle to have lunch with him, for the unspoken purpose of meeting me and trying to get us together. Adorable.

FarmWife said...

I love the bookmarks you made for your students. Such a lovely and thoughtful gift!

I usually make something for the FarmHands' teachers. Sometimes it's my floral jelly, sometimes a tin of cookies, and one year we made the salt dough ornaments (but forgot to warn Husband and he thought they were gingerbread men & tried to eat one when he got home from work).

I figure a person can only use so many candles or bottles of bodywash (the typical teacher gift in my neck of the woods).

Suzanne said...

What a lovely post and a thoroughly thoughtful TA you are! I just love the bookmarks, so personal to each child, a lovely touch. It does seem to have become 'expected' to buy the teacher a gift, which is a shame, I think. As you say, it's the thought that counts.

Nicki said...

I love this post. A while back, I did a post in response to a news article about an interview with a teacher. One teacher actually said, "Please, no more mugs, frames, or stuffed animals. A gift card to Starbucks or Staples would be more than enough. A thank-you note: even better." Although I know that this teacher was saying that a simple card is enough, I was so offended that she mentioned how ungrateful she was about the mugs, frames, and stuffed animals!! You sound like an incredibly grateful, appreciative, and gracious person! God Bless!!

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thanks for your comments!

Mumofthreeboys, I think your biscuits sound lovely - a really nice personal touch! Its always lovely to think that a family has worked together to make something yummy like that, licking the bowl, saving some for themselves and sharing some as gifts.I would love that!

Hi Natasha! I love your idea of the sunflowers too - might steal that one!!

Inkling your comment about the little boy with the pennies gave me a lump in my throat! How sweet is that??! And then you made me laugh with the thought of him setting you up with his uncle!! x

Hello Farm Wife! Again I think your gifts sound lovely. All it takes for any sort of gift is a bit of thought and care.I hope your husband didn't poison himself on the salt dough??!! I did think about making little salt dough Christmas ornaments this year - we'll see. x

Hi Suzanne! I'm glad you liked the book marks. I was chuffed with them and received some lovely comments.I hate the thought that parents feel they 'have' to get presents for us all. That's not right is it? x

Hi Nicki! That teacher would have made me cross too. How ungrateful! I remember an old teacher years ago saying a similar thing to me and I thought she was very rude.Some people are just so negative! x

Sarah xxx

Anne said...

This post and the comments have made me feel so happy. I took the children in to school today with their home made gifts and cards. The other children were sporting flowers and boxes of chocolates and I was thinking that maybe my gifts were not good enough. I thinking otherwise now, thanks.

sarah at secret housewife said...

Oh Anne, I am so glad! Sarah xx

Me, The Man & The Baby said...

That is so sweet!! Homemade gifts and the the small things really are usually the best! Those bookmarks are ace, I still use a bookmark which I made myself at school when I was a young girl :)

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hi Emma! Thank you! Glad you like the bookmarks - I was chuffed with them when I'd finished and I think both children and parents appreciated them.Love your blog btw !! Sarah x

BeeBopaLula said...

Agreed. I appreciate the personal touch and always created cards for my mum's birthday, mothering Sunday, etc. She was in a care home this spring and proudly showed my mothers day card to everybody for several days. Sadly, I didn't get to make her a birthday card last month as she died ten days before she would have been 87.

I make cards for other people sometimes but it's not the same reaction - mum was so pleased and proud of my efforts, however random. The little girl in me died with mum.

Gosh that's dramatic. The rest of me is alive and kicking!