Give your child's pre-k teacher a birthday present that shows how much you care.

Preschool Teacher Birthday Gift Etiquette

by Erica Loop

From providing care to teaching light-hearted lessons, your little learner's preschool teacher devotes her time and efforts to the kids in the class every day. When you think about all that the teacher does for your child, you might also consider how you can give back to her. Gifting the pre-k teacher with a birthday present is a seemingly small gesture that may have a big impact. Before hitting the mall or getting out your checkbook, take a look at proper gift-giving etiquette when it comes to choices for the preschool teacher.

1. School Policy

While it's easy to see the good intentions that gift giving involves, your child's pre-k may preclude this magnanimous gesture. If you want to surprise the teacher or don't feel comfortable asking directly, talk to the preschool's director or a parent who is in-the-know about the school's policies. Don't stop at finding out whether the school allows gifts to the teachers. You will also want to know the policies regarding the actual gifts themselves. For example, the school may allow parents to give gifts to teachers for birthdays and holidays but may have rules against monetary presents such as checks or cash.

2. Group Gifts

You probably aren't the only mom who has come up with the bright idea to give the teacher a birthday present. Although your gift-giving efforts are clearly a mark of your own generous nature and knowledge of proper etiquette, you may want to find out if a group effort is necessary. Some parents may feel that a group gift provides more options when it comes to buying a higher-priced present. Check with the other parents to see if a group gift idea is already in place. If one isn't, you can easily organize a group gift. Keep in mind that not every parent has the money or desire to contribute to the gift. Instead of confronting parents individually in person, send home a letter or write an e-mail. This method gives parents who can and want to contribute the chance to do so without offending, insulting or making the other parents feel badly.

3. Price

No etiquette guide will tell you the exact amount that you must spend on a preschool teacher's birthday gift. The act of gift giving in itself is often enough to make the teacher understand that you are thinking of and appreciative of her. While it's tempting to go overboard, avoid outlandish or clearly expensive gifts that may make the teacher -- or other parents -- feel uncomfortable. Instead, try to stay in a moderate price range that doesn't look like you are showing off or trying to flash your cash. For example, if you are giving your child's teacher a gift card to her favorite restaurant, go with the $25 version in lieu of the $100 one.

4. Store-Bought vs. Home-Made

You don't have to go out and actually buy a birthday gift for your child's pre-k teacher when looking to follow birthday present etiquette. Preschool teachers often get crafty with the kids during art activity time. This makes them, almost more so than anyone else, understanding and appreciative of hand-crafted gifts that come straight from little one's hearts and hands. While it's perfectly acceptable to buy a ready-made gift at a store, it's also equally as appropriate to have your child make a craft such as a hand-painted picture frame, fridge magnet or decorated keepsake box to give as a birthday present.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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