by Stephanie Berenbaum – June 4th 2012
A Private School Lesson In Giving
It’s the end of the school year, which means every mom is talking about what to give her children’s teachers as a year-end thank you gift. The CliffsNotes version of our thoughts: teacher’s gifts are one area where we stress being fabulous – and not frugal!
Now we’re not saying to give a gift you can’t afford, but keep in mind these are the people who do everything from wipe your kids’ butts to help correct your parenting errors. If there was ever a time to splurge, this is it!
Cash Is King
While every school differs in policy – and many public schools deter parents from giving teachers cash at all – in the private school sector, cash is still king. In our survey of private school teachers, one message came through loud and clear: the most appreciated gift of all is CASH, or a cash equivalent, like a gift card. Teachers are woefully underpaid and are uber appreciative for the supplement of these year end gifts. If you are going the gift card route, go for something like an Amex gift card that can be used anywhere, as opposed to a “Candle Emporium” card. Seriously…
Hey all you private school moms, now that you know you should give cash, the question is: how much? The norm among our friends polled (who generally live in urban areas) seems to be anywhere from $50-$100 for the lead teacher, and $25-50 for assistant teachers. And yes, obviously this varies given a family’s personal situation. But if you are someone who has been known to spend $500 on a pair of shoes from time to time, we’re thinking the person who taught your child about the wonders of Macchu Picchu is worth a few extra bucks as well…
Lately there has been a trend of giving group gifts. While this can be a great alternative for parents who are not allowed to give individual cash gifts, it should not be used as a way for you to spend less than you’d planned. Our advice is this: if you were planning on giving your child’s teacher $50, and then you get an email asking each family to contribute $25 towards a group gift – you should still give the extra $25 to the teacher on your own. Don’t use group gift giving as a chance to save money - that kind of thinking deserves an “F!”
Though we know your little one is a budding Picasso, the truth is, your teacher probably needs another pair of child made ceramic candlesticks like she needs another snotty nose to wipe. Ever wondered where teachers put all the tchotchke gifts they get? If you guessed the garbage, you’re probably right…
We think the best solution is to have your little one make a handmade card to go with your cash gift or gift card. Teachers we know actually do keep the handmade cards – they are easy to store and much appreciated – especially when accompanied by a little green!