Gifts to Warm the Hearts of Early Childhood Staff

 In Day Early Learning

Early Childhood Professionals Share Their Best Bets for Child Care Staff Presents

Between Santa visits and family craft projects, families with young children face one other major holiday hurtle each year: How to share appreciation and gratitude with the teachers and caregivers who nurture their sons and daughters.

To make that task easier this year, we went straight to the source – our own early childhood and school-age professionals. Though they help boost quality with programs and professionals across the state these days, a large number of our Early Learning Indiana HQ crew started their careers with babies, toddlers, preschoolers and schoolchildren. In other words, they are kind of experts on what will warm an educator’s heart.

Below, you’ll find three kinds of gift-giving approaches that our staff recommend, but don’t forget that the most important gift you can give child care, preschool and out-of-school staff is your partnership in helping your child learn, grow and thrive!

Gifts that Pamper

Want to encourage a hard-working teacher to take a moment for herself? Consider giving a gift card or special treat based on how you know that 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 our staff shared:

  • 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 delight teachers who love to get limber.
  • Movie ticket, 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.

Gifts that Help Them Achieve Their Mission

Fun fact: Early childhood staff are incredibly committed to their work. And that means that they are often in the habit of paying 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 appreciate having a chance to invest more into their profession!

Here are a few ideas that our staff shared:

  • 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 staff.
  • 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 a colleague may have an idea for an early childhood or youth development book that the teacher would love – don’t hesitate to ask!

Gifts 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. The reality is that most early childhood educators come to the field not for material rewards, but for a mix of talent and commitment to helping our youngest community members turn into tomorrow’s leaders.

So, when they have the chance to hear about how much families and children see the impact of their work, early childhood educators beam with joy. Plus, many of our staff said that they know how much great care costs families, so they don’t expect material gifts at all.

Here are a few ideas that our staff shared:

  • A drawing, painting or other piece 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 of our staff shared 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 our Manager of Family Support and Engagement Lenore Friedly 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!

Special thanks to our team members from our Partnerships for Early Learners and Child Care Answers staff for contributing to this post.

 

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