Thursday, 4 July 2013

End of term tactics

Next September my eldest will start Junior School. It feels like a significant step – and one where I can take stock of her achievements and developments since that very first day in the ‘big’ school playground (when I was trying very hard not to cry!). She leaves behind her a teacher she’s had for both Years 1 and 2, a lady she has really bonded with.
It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you're a teacher (maybe?)
I hold her teacher in high regard too – summarising her approach to her charges (and yes, even the grown-ups who try to monopolise parents' evening!) as ‘firm but fair’. She suits my girl’s understanding of the world perfectly – rules are rules and those that break them should – and are – given short shrift. Mrs S isn’t afraid to tackle those few disrupting the class but never does so at the expense of the attentive majority. She seems to have an arsenal of interesting ways to help children overcome everything from shyness to incessant fidgeting. She could certainly give all those parenting gurus a run for their money!
So I’d like to buy her something to show that I appreciate her job is far from easy – and that my daughter really has blossomed under her care. I want something original but useful, something that simply says ‘thank you’! What I don’t want to do is get involved in some crazy ‘one-upmumship’, where parents feel they have to go large or go home. Or give the poor woman diabetes by handing over the 30th box of chocs she’s received that day (that would freak me out if I was her as I’d eat every last one of them, even if I made myself sick…).
So, just in case you find yourself in a similar conundrum (admit it, you can’t read that word without hearing the Countdown tune) – I’ve had a little poke about the Internet to seek out alternatives to the bog-standard biscuits, chocolates and wine.  I should add, for the purposes of editorial transparency, I did not receive any of the items below free from friendly PR people (yeah, I know, must try harder next time…).
Drink up!

Scrabble mugs from Graham and Green
While it always feels a bit wrong to take alcohol into the classroom, I’m pretty sure teachers (must need to) drink a fair amount of coffee and tea to make it through the school day. So, scoring high on the practicality front, a decent mug must surely be a suitable gift? And there are plenty of sophisticated options. Try the Scrabble Mug from Graham and Green, or if your budget is a little lower the matching coasters. For slightly more ‘educational’ mugs try Pedlars, it offers drinking vessels decorated with the Greek alphabet, a weights and measures chart and the periodic table. Alternatively get a personalised mug (here and here) and spare your teacher the staff room sink mix ups! The Handpicked Collection also does a fetching Tap Water Bottle for just £4.95 if your teacher is immune to the lure of caffeine.
Tap water bottle from The Handpicked Collection

Desktop distractions
Is it just me, or is there nothing quite like new stationary to fill that gaping hole in your life? By definition teachers need a desk – so why not add a little cheer to their day with functional yet funny items like the ‘Stampler’ (half stamp half stapler – kids would love that!), some tasty Tetris style sticky notes and highlighter pens disguised as nail varnish. Suck UK do a stunning rainbow and cloud pencil tidy, a giant pencil sharpener pen pot and a hole punch that leaves behind hearts – bringing some extra joy to those Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. And the fun doesn’t stop there, pencils can look like drumsticks, pens can look like lipsticks and a tiny army of rubber soldiers can help you in the ‘war against error’! Or for a touch of luxury, why not buy teacher a velvet pencil case? Beautiful and practical.
Rainbow and cloud pencil tidy from SUCK UK

Dig a little deeper
Outside of school teachers are just like regular people (shock!!) – which means they have a variety of hobbies. It’s gifting gold when you uncover a piece of personal info about a teacher – be it that they are a keen gardener, own a dog or that they collect tiny mirrors. If you do find out what your child’s teacher gets up to at the weekend make it work for you! For some beautiful gardening gifts head over to NotOnTheHighStreet, where you can source everything from pleasing pots and delightful outdoorsy decorations to a monthly seed subscription. Maybe your teacher is also a dab hand in the kitchen? Then head over to Lakeland for everything from guitar-shaped spatulas and potholders masquerading as vinyl to beautiful bakeware. Or perhaps they spend their school holidays on the road? Then look no further than the Travelogue notebook from Firebox.

Monthly seed sub from Notonthehighstreet

And finally, don’t forget that what the teacher really needs is a thank you from the heart. Luckily, children often aren’t quite so uncomfortable with telling people how they feel, so as well as proffering a gift on the last day of term, my little lady will be writing a card to her teacher, to let her know how much she will be missed.
How do you feel about teacher gifts? Do you have any ideas you can share with us in the comment box below? Perhaps you are against the idea altogether – or are hoping someone will organise a whip-round? Let me know by adding a comment…


  1. Some nice ideas Vanessa! As a group, we tend to go down the gift voucher route, which is safe but not very thoughtful!

    1. I think a voucher is good though - you get one big pressie then!

  2. Very nice blog! We used to get our teachers rubber stamps saying things like 'great work' or 'excellent' so they could stamp their pupil's work! It was nice for the teachers, and the kids loved them!

  3. It's really hard because it's not just their form teacher - it's the teaching assistants and the teacher that takes them for maths and the one that takes them for English..... So many involved and how do you thank them all?? Some great ideas there though - I love the water bottle!

    1. And the swimming teacher, and the ballet teacher...I know. The admin staff at school do loads too...