‘Tis the season to give back, and no one deserves more gratitude and support than teachers. Educators shape the future of individual learners and society at large through their daily words and actions.
How can you support your child’s teacher?
Whether you hope to help during the holidays or a different time of year, it all begins with empathy. Think about what your favorite educator wants and needs most, and you can’t go wrong. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Provide Classroom Treats
Some of the best things about this time of year are all the delectable treats. Teachers often spend a small fortune trying to make the season special for their students — contribute to the cause.
Depending on where you live, you might not want to don your Martha Stewart apron. Some states implemented regulations due to food allergies and won’t accept donations of homemade goods. Don’t let that dampen your enthusiasm —head to the store for prepackaged, clearly labeled treats. Contact your local district first to find out what you’re allowed to provide.
Teachers often rip their hair out this time of year trying to keep little minds focused on classwork. Many get as creative as they can, taking their classes outdoors for lessons or arranging for guest speakers. However, to do so, they often need help — in the form of extra supervision.
If you have time off work or you’re a stay-at-home parent, consider volunteering in your child’s classroom. Even if you don’t feel like you do a lot, you’ll likely have a blast. Plus, the presence of an extra adult often prompts better behavior overall.
3. Refill Their Supply Closet
Many teachers send out wish lists at the beginning of the school year. Unfortunately, their classroom coffers often run empty by October or November — right when cold and flu season starts. Make your favorite educator a gift basket of hand sanitizer and tissues for their classroom. Include some handy wipes and disinfectant spray for desks and doorknobs too.
4. Donate Items to Repurpose
Maybe you lack the disposable cash to give your fave teacher a gift. Look around your house with a critical eye as you perform your holiday cleaning. That stack of magazines you planned to recycle? The clippings make for perfect collage fodder. Those old t-shirts you planned to drop off at the thrift shop? They make great smocks for art classes and aprons for home economics classes.
5. Give the Gift of Your Knowledge
Are you a computer guru? If you notice that your child’s teacher’s website could use some work, why not offer to update it? Between lesson planning and grading papers, many educators run out of time for the extras.
Perhaps you have an exciting hobby — restoring old cars or growing food year-round in a greenhouse, for instance. Contact your child’s teacher and ask if you could share your knowledge with the class. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to engage students whose minds are already on vacation.
6. Have a Luncheon Catered
Many teachers eat lunch in their classrooms. If they do venture to the break room, they quickly nuke a TV dinner and get back to work. Why not treat your child’s educators to a catered lunch? Include everyone in the fun by paying attention to food allergies when you contact the caterer. Include dishes for those who embrace a vegan lifestyle as well as those who must avoid peanuts or gluten.
7. Attend Extracurricular Events
Think about how excited your child gets when they see you on the bleachers at soccer practice. Now, consider all the kids who don’t have a parent in the stands for any reason. Often, teachers turn up when nobody else does. Join their cheering squad by attending extracurricular events as often as possible. Educators appreciate the extra adult eyes, and the children adore more folks “oohing” and “aahing” over their talents.
8. Chaperone Field Trips
There’s nothing more frightening to a teacher than doing a headcount on the bus —and coming up one kiddo short. Many schools arrange for these excursions as the holidays approach, and educators need all the supervisory help they can get. If you have the time, offer to chaperone the trip. The more responsible eyes, the less chance something will go wrong.
9. Advocate for Positive Change
Finally, even if you typically stay out of politics,realize that your child’s teacher can’t enjoy the same luxury. Legislatures and local school boards dictate their salary schedules and class sizes. In some areas of the country, educators have to make ends meet by driving for Uber or bagging groceries after hours instead of grading. Yes, they can advocate for themselves — but without community support, their pleas for help often fall on deaf ears.
Call your elected representative. Write letters to the editors of local papers. Make it clear that you believe teachers deserve better.
This Holiday, Help Support Your Child’s Teacher
The holidays are the perfect time to show your child’s teacher you care. This season, take these tips and delight the dedicated educator in your life.
Jennifer Landis is the founder of Mindfulness Mama, a blog where she talks all things #momlife, marriage, mindfulness, and everything in between. A thirty-something mom of two, Jennifer spends her limited free time practicing yoga and pilates, sipping tea, and reading with her littles. You can find more from Jennifer on Twitter, @JenniferELandis.
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