Since James started public school, we have worked closely with many people in school administration and in the classrooms. At the end of each year, in addition to the customary teacher gift, we’ve always given a little something to the nurse or the aide that helps take care of James’ type 1 diabetes. Because we’ve been at it for a little while, I have some thoughts about what has worked well for us.
First, you have to know that we have many educators in our family. My mom is a first grade teacher. Every Christmas and at the end of each school year, I see her with a mountain of gifts from her students! She really does appreciate all of them, but the sheer volume of gifts means that she can’t really use all of the things that she receives. She ends up donating lots of the items or giving them to other people. There are only so many mugs, teddy bears, and candles she can use, although she loves each one. Seeing her with her plethora of stuff has led me to come up with an approach to gifts for caregivers that I call “the triple threat.”
The triple threat is a combination of (naturally!) three things. First, I include a letter or artwork from my child. I try to help James to make it meaningful and to slow down and do his best work. Teachers and nurses love stuff from their pupils and charges. James is getting much better about understanding and expressing his thanks and appreciation.
Second, I include a letter. This is the easy part for me! I AM grateful for the conscientious care that James receives at the hands of his teachers and nurses! This appeals to a large proportion of educators. They get a lot of complaints throughout the year, so it’s nice to finally let these people know they are doing a GREAT job.
Finally, I include a gift card. It isn’t the most imaginative gift, but at least it’s small, practical, and can even be easily regifted. I try to pick someplace that I know the teacher or nurse loves, or a place that’s so large and varied that will allow them to find some use for the funds.
In my experience, these three things together make for a satisfying gift package for a teacher or a school nurse. They help me achieve my goal of letting these wonderful individuals that care for my kids all year long know how much I really appreciate them.
I also like to thank the other people that are there for James at school too. For example, the office manager at our school is responsible for James’ care in the rare event that the nurse is not available. She’s awesome, so sweet, and helpful. Even though she rarely cares for James, she has received all the training. I always get her something too. She makes my life — our lives — so much better. It’s easy enough to put together an extra one of my “triple threat” gifts, and I know it’s appreciated.
A final note about gifts for school staff: When we were new to school, I felt the need to buy REALLY fancy gifts for the teacher and the nurse. I sort of felt like because James’ care was more complicated than many other kids’, I “owed” them something fancier than what other kids were giving. I no longer feel that way. First of all, the educators that I know do not hold things against our children. They don’t feel inconvenienced by diabetes; they just want to do what’s best for our kids. So there really isn’t any need for a big present. They don’t need to be “bought.” Second, most people in education aren’t in it for the swag. It sounds cliché, but they’re in it because they care. Bottom line: A big gift won’t buy better care. If you really want to thank them, just make the note extra nice.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.