This morning I took N to register at her “big girl school” where she will start kindergarten in the fall. After we completed our reams of paperwork, the administrator handed me a note from the principal stating that the school has a uniform dress code policy.
Stunned, I read the list of acceptable clothing items for girls: white, light blue or yellow polo or button-down shirts with navy or khaki pants, skirts or shorts, or the “designated plaid” skirts. On Assembly Days girls must wear a red tie or scarf.
I’m sure anyone who knows my daughter can easily imagine how much she will hate this. N absolutely loves being able to dress herself in her own “style.” She’ll come downstairs in a thin dress on a cold day; when I tell her it’s too cold and she needs to put on something warmer, she says stubbornly, “But Mom! This is MY style!”
If the outfit is warm enough, I don’t interfere with her clothing selections — even if she’s dressed (as she was this morning) in a purple polka dot shirt under a navy blue dress with brown polka dot tights and pink cowgirl boots. For accessories, she chose a costume pearl necklace with a coral-colored headband. She comes up with some crazy outfits — but she’s proud of herself for getting dressed on her own.
And I’m proud of her too. I happen love her crazy outfits. So when I received this note, it practically broke my heart. I didn’t have to wear a uniform to school — and I really, really don’t want to force her to wear the same brown, navy and plaid clothes every day. She will absolutely hate it. That’s not the way I want her to feel about school.
I understand that there are sound reasons for a uniform dress code. Of course you want kids paying attention to their education, not what everyone is wearing. And our neighborhood school is extremely diverse — at registration this morning I heard 4 different languages (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Italian) being spoken by other families. A uniform dress code is one way to encourage school unity rather than the formation of ethnic cliques.
Still, it really bothers me.
In the fine print at the bottom of the note, there’s a ray of hope: exemption forms are available in the office. Is it reasonable to request an exemption for a “budding fashionista”?? How about an exemption “to encourage my daughter’s independence and love of learning”? It’s worth a try…….!