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December 11, 2018

Child Care Staff Gifts: What They Really Want!

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Early childhood professionals share their best bets for child care staff presents.

Santa visits, craft projects, gift shopping and holiday gatherings can jam-pack a calendar. And families with young children face one other major holiday hurtle each year: sharing gratitude with the early ed pros who nurture our sons and daughters.

To make that task easier this year, we went straight to the source – early childhood and school-age professionals.

Below, you’ll find three kinds of gift-giving approaches that they recommend. But don’t forget that the most important gift you can give these superstars is your partnership in helping your child learn, grow and thrive!

A Gift that Pampers

Want to encourage a hard-working teacher to take a moment for herself? Consider giving a gift card or special treat based on how she renews herself. The best way to find out about that? Just ask! “Do you have any weekend plans?” and “Wow, I’m beat, I could use a massage. How do you treat yourself?” are both great ways to start a conversation about self-care strategies!

Here are a few ideas that teachers love:

  • Gift cards for a coffee shop or a jumbo pack of Keurig cups are hits for the caffeine-fueled caregiver.
  • A voucher for a massage or yoga class delights teachers who love to get limber.
  • Movie tickets, music, or bookstore certificate make media-loving program staff happy.
  • Hearty houseplants are ideal for teachers who make nature a regular part of their classroom plans.

A Gift that Helps Them Achieve Their Mission

Fun fact: Early childhood staff is incredibly committed to their work. And that means that they are often pay for classroom materials and activities themselves. While it can seem self-serving to some families to share resources that can be used with their own children, many staff love having a chance to invest more into their profession!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Many programs maintain a wish list for program materials – items from that can be great!
  • Gift cards might allow a teacher to split the spending between themselves and their students. Think big box stores with craft supplies, learning toys and maybe a treat for teachers.
  • A voucher for a team meal, if you’d like to give to the whole program – providers tend to get lots of treats around the holiday, but having a gift card for catering a team training or meeting can make their lives a little bit rosier throughout the year!
  • If you’re at a larger program, the director or another teacher may have an idea for a book that the teacher would love – don’t hesitate to ask!

A Gift from the Heart

More than anything else, our experts recommended one type of gift: things that reflect the impact of their work or the magic of their bond with children. Most early childhood educators work not for material rewards. Instead, they focus mostly on helping our youngest community members turn into tomorrow’s leaders.

So, when they have the chance to hear those who cherish their work, early childhood educators beam with joy. Plus, many say that they know how much great care costs families, so they don’t expect material gifts at all.

Here are a few ideas:

  • A drawing, painting, or other pieces of art created by your child! And if your child has enough words, it’s a great idea to include what he says he loves about his teacher.
  • Several teachers share that a heartfelt reflection from you about the impact of their work can mean the world to your child’s caregiver.
  • Have your child create an ornament or other craft to give to their teacher.
  • Anything else that expresses how much the teacher means to you. As one teacher shared, “In my world, those things meant more to me than anything.”

This holiday season, families don’t need to stress about creating a Pinterest-worthy gift for their child’s teachers and caregivers. Just make it personal and from the heart!

This post originally appeared on the Early Learning Indiana blog.

Build Your Child’s Brighter Future!

Want to dive deeper into social studies with your little one?
Check out our Play and Learning guidance about Social Studies, a topic that includes holidays, celebrations and understanding different jobs, for:

Kirsten Eamon-Shine
directs Early Learning Indiana’s communications efforts, including the Brighter Futures India
na website. She loves telling stories that help adults nurture the curiosity and potential of children. She spent over a decade in the youth development field at IUPUI, the Marion County Commission on Youth and Peace Learning Center, and has diverse experience as a digital communications manager and strategist with community-focused organizations and businesses. Kirsten holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Indiana University. She spends her free time reading children’s and grown-ups’ books, enjoying Indianapolis’ cultural and food scenes, and listening to music with her husband and son Emerson, who is somehow old enough to be in kindergarten.

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