Never heard of National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day? Not on our watch! It’s every year, the last Friday before Mother’s Day, so it’s coming up. Consider yourself warned. Do your homework and organize something for your child’s child care provider or preschool teacher.
There are quite a few tongue-in-cheek “appreciation days” out there. Today, for example, is Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you! But you really should take this Friday seriously: Besides family members, your child care provider is probably the single most important person in your child’s life.
The truth is that early childhood educators often over-deliver and are under-appreciated for doing so. Here are 7 ideas to help you even up the score on child care provider appreciation day:
A personal note
The chances are pretty good that your child care provider is not hungry for fame or fortune, even though both may be deserved. Gift certificates, “stuff,” and money will all go a long way but personal notes are what get remembered (and kept) for a lifetime. If your child learned a word, developed an interest, or simply had a brighter day thanks to his provider, have him put it in writing. It will mean a lot. If you need inspiration for a cute thank you card, here is a funny one (and here’s another one!)
Starbucks is always a safe choice. (Can anyone take care of kids without coffee?) Amazon is another one, you can buy an e-gift card to send immediately (we’ve all been there, buying a present at the last minute!) Or, if you plan at least 1 or 2 days in advance, you can get one of the gift cards nested inside a nice gift box. Another wonderful idea for busy child care providers is a gift card to Style Seat, a website that helps you find and book beauty and wellness professionals near you! Otherwise you can ask other parents at your child care center to try to figure out if she has a favorite restaurant, etc.
Make it a group effort
If you’d like to purchase a gift, you can put more money towards any one single idea (from this list or not) if everyone from your child’s class pitches in. Talk to the other parents at your child care center or home daycare and organize it. It’s also a good way to figure out what type of things a particular caregiver likes or does in her free time.
A subscription service
Everyone likes getting a box of new, cool stuff every month. For coffee drinkers there are subscription services that send you new varieties to taste, like Craft Coffee. If cookies is his guilty pleasure (who doesn’t love cookies?!), offer him a subscription to Cravory Cookies and for the beauty maven on a budget, Ipsy will send a collection of products she’ll be able to find at her local store if she loves it. Figure out what your child’s preschool director or teacher is into and see if there is a service for it!
Something for the classroom
You’d be surprised how much preschool directors and teachers spend out of their own pockets for their classroom. There may be a particular item that fits so well with next week’s project, for example, that waiting around for budget approval from the daycare center management wouldn’t make sense. You probably don’t want to guess what your provider needs, though, so just ask directly. Some examples that will surely be a hit include a Washable Finger Paint Set, or this 1,000 piece Arts & Craft kit!
Depending on your preschool, you may be able to organize some extra (paid) time off for your child care provider. A Friday afternoon head-start on the weekend can be more valuable than the “sum of its parts.”
Be careful with gifts of food unless you know the teacher pretty well. It seems like everyone is on this or that diet these days. You can hit a real home run, though, if you get it right. Paleo cheesecake, anyone? Or, you can place a safe bet on a one-time order of those Cravory Cookies we mentioned earlier.
And just to finish, here’s one thing to avoid: mugs! It seems to be the one gift that teachers love to hate. So, for child care provider appreciation day, just offer the coffee instead 😉
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