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Looking for ways to show a teacher that you appreciate them?

Here are the top ten ways you can help a teacher today!

1. Classroom Supplies

Pencils, pens, paper, folders…and colored pencils, erasable markers, highlighters, modeling clay, small plastic cubes exactly one centimeter wide, cardboard tubes of any possible size, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Did you know that teachers are spending more than $500 on school supplies, per year?

Teachers are constantly running out of communal classroom supplies because we get so little funding for it, and a lot of our most engaging projects require more than just the basics to execute correctly. Even if we make a list of what your kids will need, there are always a few parents who can’t afford the basics. Do your teachers a favor and ask if they could use extra classroom supplies.

2. Books, Books, Books

A school without books is like a kitchen without food. Having extracurricular books in an educational environment is a crucial element to spark a true love of learning. Kids gravitate to ideas they feel that they’ve discovered on their own, and works of engaging fiction can help bring concepts in the classroom to life. Reading fiction can even raise your emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, many underfunded schools have little more than outdated textbooks for kids to peruse. If you have fond memories of books from your own childhood that caught your interest, donate a few copies to your school’s library or your teacher’s classroom. You could even start a book drive for your school.

3. Donate

Teachers lift up society, and they help us to understand ourselves and the world. Donating to teachers helps spread awareness about the need for financial assistance and motivate others to act in support of teachers. Teachers are the foundation for our youth and by empowering them to share their story, we can be the bridge that allows them to do more.

4. Make Your Voice Heard

Your help can only go so far in making sure your child has the best education possible. Many public schools are chronically underfunded, and teachers’ salaries shrink every year. Find out how you can advocate for more resources in your community with the Red for Ed(ucation) campaign from the National Education Association: http://neatoday.org/redfored/

5. Pampering

Being a teacher can be mentally stressful, but it’s also hard on the body. We walk and stand a lot, bend down to help kids, and lift heavy boxes of books and supplies. We’re not likely to splurge on pampering ourselves, so getting your kid’s teacher a spa day, massage, or mani-pedi is a great gesture that lulls the stress away.

6. Communicate With Your Teacher

As much as gifts for us are a nice thought, what we really want from every parent is for you to care about your kid’s education and help form a parent teacher relationship. The best way to do that is to keep in contact with your child’s teacher throughout the year. Set goals for your child’s progress with us and help find ways to make those goals a reality. Check your child’s backpack for take-homes and review your child’s data and grades if your school provides an online parent portal. Email us throughout the year with questions or concerns, or ask us about appropriate phone times if you prefer calling. Don’t just contact us when your kid is in trouble, but when they’re doing well. Keeping engaged with us can help your child succeed.

7. Volunteer Throughout the Year

From field trips to Field Day, we need parents and guardians at school. There are plenty of school events that could use extra hands and chaperones. If your school has a special outing, a dance or fair, or a school-wide event like Spirit Week, it’s easy to see where you could lend a hand. However, your teacher might be able to use some help even if it’s not a fun occasion. Big in-class projects or experiments may be a good time to see if your kid’s teacher could use a hand. Help with organizing the classroom could also be a boon to a busy teacher.

8. Gift Cards

There are some things everyone likes to get us as gifts that are more likely to be re-gifted than anything. Mugs are cute, but we already have a huge collection of objects that hold life-giving caffeine. Candy tends to get eaten by the kids before we have a chance to taste it. Scented candles are frankly a fire hazard. Oversized novelty pencils can disappear from the face of the earth. Chances are that we’re strapped for cash on our salaries and could use some help with the necessities. Gift cards for supermarkets, gas stations, or online stores can help us stock up on the things we really need, or be hoarded for the summer when a lot of us aren’t receiving paychecks.

9. A Real Thank-You Note

All teachers really want, deep down in our hearts, is to know that we’re helping a child and making a difference in someone’s life. That’s why we got into this gig! If your child loves us or you’ve seen them improve under our tutelage, let us know. We want to hear that we’ve helped, and we’ll treasure a note or a teacher appreciation letter telling us so forever.

10. Write to Past Teachers

Teachers plant seeds we know we’re not likely to see. That kid we teach about whales may grow up to be a marine biologist, but we might not know until we see them in scuba gear on The Discovery Channel. If a teacher has ever made a difference in your life, drop them a note. We love hearing from grateful students even years after they graduate.

11. A Free Lunch

Teachers have to eat, too! Many of us don’t get a real lunchtime since we’re so busy helping out kids even in the moments of downtime we get between classes. Events like Teacher Appreciation Week or administrative holidays (i.e. everyone gets the day off but us) are good opportunities to show how much you care about your teachers by giving us a chance to relax away from the kids in the middle of the day with some tasty treats. It doesn’t have to be fancy or catered; pizza, box lunches, or even simple sharing dishes like spaghetti can be a welcome respite and sustenance for us.