Teachers are a godsend. Once your child is in kindergarten, it is very likely that they’ll see that teacher for more time each weekday than they see you. Teachers nurture our children’s emotional, social and academic wellbeing, and they often do it with little resources.
Here are 5 truly meaningful ways you can support your child’s teacher:
1. Shop their Wish List
Most teachers curate wish lists of classroom supplies either on Amazon or using sticky notes at the classroom door. If they don’t, here are a few things they always need:
- copy paper
- disinfecting wipes
- functioning pencil sharpeners
- non-perishable snacks (protein bars, granola bars, fruit snacks, pre-packaged Goldfish)
Instead of dropping off bags full of these goods during open house in the fall, wait until around October and check in again in February to see what they are running low on. Most teachers will be very open and appreciative of not having to restock using their own money.
2. Warm Meals
Consider taking an extended lunch break from work to pick up and deliver a meal for your teacher, then eat lunch with your own child. Teachers don’t usually get to leave campus for lunch, so the treat of a warm, freshly prepared meal is going to be a game changer for their day. Otherwise they may have a cold lunchbox meal or a Lean Cuisine straight from the lounge microwave. Coordinate in advance and get their exact order.
3. Gift Cards
Don’t make your teacher a mug or buy them candles, tote bags and throw blankets. Can you imagine how many of these they have? Try to think instead of what things you could get them that would make their lives easier. Maybe restaurant gift cards or gift cards to their favorite retail shop. Most teachers are honestly thrilled with Amazon gift cards because, let’s face it, they are going to spend their money on supply restocks so you may as well try to take some of that financial hit for them.
We aren’t all able to contribute financially to our children’s education. What you lack in cash you can make up for by being physically present, especially for younger kids. Consider talking with your child’s teacher about coming in to help sort take-home folders each week, or to be a reading buddy. Volunteer to chaperone field trips. Being physically present creates rapport and improves relationships with teachers. Making yourself available makes it easier for teachers to communicate with you in any circumstance, and knowing you see what happens inside the classroom helps build empathy for some of their daily challenges.
5. Consider Joining or Supporting the PTA
A school’s parent organization is able to fundraise and support school staff in ways individuals often can’t. They can fund catered lunches for professional development seminars; they can host extracurricular activities that boost school community. They can apply for grants to pay for campus enhancements. But they can’t do any of this without an active parent population. Even in communities where PTAs are hard-pressed for cash, the ability of parents to coordinate support can be a game changer for the school environment.
If you live in a wealthier area, it is likely your school already has a PTA. If you are in a Title 1 school, it is less likely your school has a PTA chapter. If that’s the case I would strongly consider starting one. There are so many grants that can help fund any initiatives, especially for economically-disadvantaged communities. Get creative if you must, but get connected.