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…….!
I wore corduroy’s every day from 5th grade through high school. it was totally my style!
I think it is good, actually. As someone with a kindergartner, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had a uniform policy. Girls especially are little witches to each other for the most random things, even in kindergarten. If everyone has similar clothes that removes one possible opportunity for bullying. That being said, they should get one day a week or month to dress however they want so that individualism isn’t quashed in the name of protecting the kids who can’t afford flashy clothes or whose parents dress them inappropriately for school…it I have sons so I can’t really relate to not wanting to wear the same thing over and over again (as log as it has either Lego, star wars, or Lego star wars characters involved…).
As much as I totally understand what you are saying, especially knowing N and her awesome style (Lily has own unique style as well, just a little less glam!), I went to parochial school from 3rd to 8th grade and wore a plaid uniform and light blue button down collar shirt. Although I wasn’t so sure at first, I loved it so much eventually that I wore it even on picture day (I know, it’s kind of embarrassing really)!!! It was nice taking the stress away of deciding what to wear every day (other than ironing the pleated uniform- hated that), and removing the competition of “coolness” in the classroom. There were plenty of other opportunities to dress how I wanted and show my “style” (or lack thereof in my case!!). Anyway, I think uniforms are cool 🙂
Thanks everyone for the comments. The uniform issue has made me realize that I enjoy N’s outfits as much as she does. Fashion is a fun hobby for me, and for N too. She and I share the enjoyment of putting together a cute outfit in the morning, flipping through fashion magazines or playing with her magnetic dress-up dolls. It’s just something we share as mother and daughter.
That said — I try to send the right messages about appearance. Our family is not “trendy” and I make it clear that we do not obsess over clothes or how we look. I emphasize that we should spend our time thinking about the important things every day — learning, getting along with others, exercising and eating healthy, etc. — not our appearance (or anyone else’s).
I understand that not every parent is sending their kids the right messages. I just feel that the blanket policy punishes even those families who are handling the issue in a positive way.
In any case, from all the feedback I have received, it sounds like I’m in the minority on this one!! Ha ha.