8 Dec 2023

What should I gift my child's teacher?

From Nine To Noon, 9:40 am on 8 December 2023
Christmas present

Christmas present Photo: Glenda Wakeham

It's an end-of-the-year dilemma for many parents - how to say thank you to their child's teacher.

As the school year grinds to an end, what gifts are appropriate for the person who's been guiding your child along on their educational journey?

Maiana McCurdy, a teacher on Auckland's Hibiscus Coast, tells Kathryn Ryan that teachers are grateful to be thanked at the end of a long year.

“It's really nice to be appreciated. Teaching is a really hard job that you pour your heart and soul into. Those kids that you look after for the year, they become your kids, and you love them and appreciate them just like their parents do. So it's really nice just to have that little thank you at the end of the year.”

If you want to provide a present, McCurdy says wine is always popular (“doesn't matter what colour; bubbles, white, red…”) but the thought is what counts.

“Over and above everything else, just a thank you at the end of the year. Just somebody coming in and saying thank you tops the list for every single person that I've spoken to.”

By the same token, a handmade card or note is also gratefully received, McCurdy says.

“Nothing goes down better than a handmade card that shows that the kids have actually really appreciated what you've done for them throughout the year. Even just a handwritten note. I've had a couple in the past that have made me cry. So that's really appreciated as well.”

McCurdy says the parents’ seldom seen by teachers during the year (“they work, everybody’s busy”), often put the most effort into saying thank you.

“They’re the ones who write you some really, really special things, and it's nice that they've noticed the effort that you've put into looking after their child over the year.”

During the interview, teachers texted in to tell Kathryn about memorable presents they'd received, from slinky nightwear to recently-killed pet tucker.

"I was once given a wild goat’s leg shot by my student to feed my dog, fur and hoof left on and all but it's the thought that counts," one said.

"The nicest gifts are Christmas tree decorations," another said. "I remember the students when I put them on my tree."

Some presents are more appropriate than others – “I had a friend tell me all about the sheer nighty and matching G-string that she was given by one student,” McCurdy says – but adds that parents can’t go wrong with chocolate.

“My brothers are always very happy with their chocolate stash at the end of the year, thanks to the amount of chocolate that I get. But like I said before, every single gift that we receive is so appreciated. And ultimately at the end of the day, a teacher just wants a thank you.

“Teachers don't expect presents, but it is nice to feel appreciated.”