Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bribing teachers, yeah or nay?

Today's blurb from the good people* at Proctor and Gamble via their Home Made Simple website and email.
Get the school year off to a good start and surprise teachers with one of our 16 simple handmade gift ideas.
Honestly, I never thought of giving anything at the start of the school year with the exception of one or two items from the teacher's wishlist sent home with the student early in the school year.  The district is chronically short on funds and I don't think teachers should shoulder the cost of equipping a classroom.  We buy Costco-sized quantities of some of the items on the list so it is no problem to send a subset of it to school with my child.

But personal gifts at the .beginning. of the school year just seem too blatant for my taste.

I really do want to know what you think.  I am especially interested in customs and social norms outside of the United States.  So what do you think?
  • Is it appropriate to give a gift at the start of school? 
  • Or would you wait until the  end of school** (as I do)?  
  • Or skip it altogether? 
  • Or would you stick to the teacher's published "wishlist" of office & classroom supplies? 
* I don't mean that facetiously. I think that P&G is one of the better companies out there. At least, they publish their ingredient lists--though you have to do some digging around in their website to find them. Did you know that, since the 1980s, manufacturers of household chemicals are .not. required to tell you what is in your formulations? If your household cleaners contained toxins, carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) or endocrine disruptors (synthetic hormone-like chemicals), wouldn't you want to know?

** I've blogged about making teachers' gifts many times previously.  Most recently, I transformed some boxy math meet t-shirts into a more fitted and feminine style for several of the math teachers who volunteered their time to mentor the team.  When the Pattern Magic book came out in English, I purchased them again and gave the Japanese language edition to the teacher that teaches both Geometry  .and. Japanese.


  1. As an aide, it is always nice to get something--but the first day does seem odd. By something, I am as excited about a handmade card, drawing, or fresh baked muffin as a purchased gift.

    Any classroom supplies are also so awesome. It is amazing how many kids have no supplies by the end of the year--I still haven't figured out where they go.

    First day gifts sometime feel like bribes.

  2. In Russia this is a tradition to bring a bouquet of flowers for your teacher at the first day of school. And I love this tradition (even though I was not so enthusiastic about it as a middle schooler lol), since it really makes this day special for teachers. But again - the first day of school is a big deal, and much more festive than in US. Since the school starts everywhere at the same day - September 1, this is an official "Day of Knowledge", and the day starts with all the kids lining up outside (or in a cafeteria if the weather is not cooperating), with a few speeches and a first bell for the first graders (we start the school at the first grade there), given by one of them.
    I must confess that I missed this "special-ness" of the first day of school when my daughter started kindergarden. Somehow sending her off in a bus did not match my feelings.
    However, I am not sure I would send an actual gift to a teacher. And as much as I love hand- made stuff, so far the gift cards to Starbucks or bookstores were best received. :)

  3. My Mom was a teacher, and I don't remember her ever getting a beginning of the year gift.

    We won't be picking up that practice! We give gifts at Christmas and when a kid moves up a classroom- so once we start elementary school, I suppose at the end of the year.

  4. @IrkaDblrka
    Flowers sounds like a charming tradition that I would be happy to adopt. I'll pick some up tomorrow for TFN to bring to school the next day.

    BTW, congrats on earning tenure!


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