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.